“Jaymasi” (Nepali Christian greeting meaning “Victory in Jesus Christ”.) We rejoice that the Lord opened a door of opportunity for us to visit Raymond and Naomi Burkholder (my wife’s sister) in Thailand and also to participate in a Macedonian Teaching Ministry conference with them. Thanks to the Burkholders for inviting us and serving as our guides. And praise be to God for the gifts of His grace and of health and safety for the full trip.
After spending about two and a half days in Thailand, we flew into Kathmandu, Nepal, on February 17. The next day we took a breath-taking trip through the high Himalaya foothills over the narrow snaking curves of the “Japanese Highway” (so-called because of the funding Japan had provided). After what seemed like an endless journey, we arrived at our small hotel in Phattepur in the Udayapur District of southeastern Nepal.
As we viewed the masses in both Thailand and Nepal and saw their shrines and altars, the statues of Buddha (who had been born in Nepal), and the people offering their morning sacrifice, I thought of Acts 17:16: “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” About 81.3 % of the Nepali people are Hindu, 9.0 % Buddhists, 4.4 % Muslim, 1.4 % Christian, 3.9 % folk or other (Wikipedia statistics). Being a Christian in a country where less than 2 % of the people are Christian is quite different from being a Christian in Lancaster County, PA, our home area.
We attended Sunday morning services at a church in the village of Bhorleni, about twenty-five minutes’ drive from our hotel. This village, where we held the Pastors and Leaders Conference from February 20 to 23, amazingly was 85 % Christian with a total of six churches. There was even a private school, founded by a Christian pastor for the purpose of a Christian witness in the community. However, the school had to be neutral in faith, and therefore, it included Hindu teachers and students, and it could not have devotions or Bible class. We met an 84 year-old Christian man who was converted from being a witch doctor only four years ago. Another man gave his testimony of how he was the first Christian in that village, having been converted by receiving Christian literature while in the hospital.
Bhorleoni Village Leadership Conference Group
Raymond shared topics about the “Godly Family,” which I supplemented with a book study on Philippians. Raymond noted there are two ways to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ: through evangelism and through the Christian family. About 120 men and women sat on the floor as is their custom and listened very attentively, followed after in their Bibles, and diligently took notes. They sang enthusiastically during times of worship. The conference reminded me of our first visit to Romania in 1991 while Christian Aid Ministries was sponsoring one of their first “Teaching Ministries Seminars” in Suceava area.
A group of women attendees was participating in 40 days of prayer and fasting for the spread of Christianity in Nepal. When the others took their lunch break, these women gathered in a circle and prayed, which reminded me of Lydia and her friends who gathered at the river to pray, a prayer meeting that impacted the beginning of the Philippian Church. We also enjoyed a Nepali Wednesday evening church service just a short walk from our hotel. The elderly pastor had been converted from Hinduism about fifteen years ago and had served that church about ten years.
On Friday, February 24, when returning to Kathmandu, we needed to bypass a section where the highway had literally fallen from the mountainside within hours after we passed over it a week before (click here to see photo). Furthermore, we passed through many attempted “roadblocks” set up by mischievous boys hoping for some Nepali rupees. This was their way of celebrating a Hindu “Mahashivaratri festival,” which occured that day. We were informed that in this festival at the Pashupati temple, over 4,000 Hindu preists/gurus will smear their naked bodies with ashes, smoke marijuana, and dance, singing praises to “Lord Shiva.” Multitudes joined them in this idolatrous worship, and we saw many of them filling the street as we neared our hotel in Kathmandu. May the Lord open the eyes and hearts of the Nepalese that they may see!
As American Christians we have experienced a long history of religious liberty (with a few exceptions) while Nepalese have received religious liberty through a constitutional change in 1990. We have had the Bible for centuries, but the entire Nepali Bible was only published in 1914. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48b).
The sounds of Nepal are memorable: screaming horns, crowing roosters, roaring motorcycles, and blaring music. The sights of Nepal were intriguing: women carrying loads on their heads, a variety of small three or four-wheeled taxis, breath-taking views from winding roads with minimal guards, goats, oxen, monkeys, and water buffalo. But most significant are the faces of God’s people in Nepal, friendly and hospitable, looking toward us for instruction and encouragement. We were greatly blessed by this experience and trust our efforts have not been in vain. “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Php 2:16).
Our oldest son Japheth and his wife Olivia picked us up at the JFK Airport. As we walked to the parking garage, I observed our four-year-old grandson eagerly walking behind his father and helping to pull the suitcase. And then I remembered another little boy in Kathmandu, also carefully following his father as he held to the back of his jacket . . . but that was walking around a Hindu shrine as the father burned incense. We pray for our children’s children, that godly families may continue to build the church, and we pray for the Light to shine in the hearts of the men, women, and children of Nepal.
Editor’s Note; The above article was written by James Nolt from Ephrata, PA USA. James has served as a school teacher and principal at Farmersville Mennonite School for about 32 years. James also serves as assistant editor of The Seed of Truth periodical, published by CAM. In past years James and Sarah Nolt have also served as missionaries in Romania for approximately five years. Thank you for your labor of love for the Lord among the Nepalese people.
Editor’s Note; The article below was submitted by our native Nepalese pastor & coordinator.
Pastors and Leaders Conference 2017 in Udaypur, Nepal. We had Pastors and Leaders conference in the mountain area of Udaypur district where mainly there were the people of Rai ethnicity. 122 pastors and leaders participated in the conference from 30 villages of that district. Our honourable pastor Raymond and James Nolt taught on a very important and effective topic from the bible. Pastor Raymond gave teaching on Godly family and Godly home. The teaching was very anointing. He taught on how the family should be. Brother James Nolt taught from the book of Philippines. All of them were very crystal clear from the book of Philippines on what it was trying to say. They also learnt on not doing the birth control. Children are the precious and valuable gift of God. We should greatly value the precious gift of God. They are the great warriors to fight against the Satan: to rise the Kingdom of God. Pastors and leaders gave feedback on how the conference was blessed and anointing. They said that they had never learnt such teaching from anyone, also they were very excited about the thing and lessons that they learnt on the conference. Praise the Lord for his glorious doing on an anointing conference. The pastors have welcomed us for such blessed teaching in the days ahead too.
In Christ your son