The president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nepal teamed up with the president of the Iowa-Missouri Conference in the United States for a 12-day trip to eastern Nepal to share Jesus and much-needed supplies with villagers still struggling after a massive earthquake rocked the country 10 months ago.
The evangelism meetings in the mountainous Udaipur region marked the culmination of months of Bible studies by local Bible workers and resulted in 59 baptisms, a significant increase for a remote area with about 500 members worshipping in nine Adventist churches.
“Jesus is coming soon, but these people do not want to go to heaven alone. They want to take their relatives and neighbors with them,” said Bhaju Ram Shrestha, a local church leader who accompanied Nepal Section president Umesh Pokharel; Iowa-Missouri Conference president Dean Coridan; and A.M. Puri, chaplain of the Adventist-operated Scheer Memorial Hospital, on the March 1-12 trip.
Nepal is still recovering after a 7.8-magnitude quake killed more than 8,500 people and left hundreds of thousands of others homeless on April 25, 2015. The Seventh-day Adventist Church and ADRA have been at the forefront of humanitarian aid efforts, and Pokharel personally led a relief team to a number of rural villages after the quake.
“We have been providing help to affected church members and their neighbors,” Pokharel told the Adventist Review on Friday. “We are rebuilding churches that were destroyed by the earthquake and helping Bible workers who lost their homes to rebuild. We are also helping with tin roofing, food, and educational support.”
More than 100 people packed the Adventist church in Naretar, about 350 miles (560 kilometers) east of the capital, Kathmandu, for evangelistic meetings during the first week of March. Many people traveled by bus and walked for miles to reach the meetings.
Among the 37 people baptized at the end of the meetings were the parents of one of the five Bible workers who had prepared the candidates for baptism.
“They said they did not want to be left out because all of their sons and daughters had become Seventh-day Adventists,” Shrestha said.
After the baptisms, the five Bible workers were ordained as elders during a ceremony led by Coridan, a longtime supporter of the Adventist work in Nepal.
The overall evangelism effort in east Nepal was coordinated by pastor Dhan lala Rai.
The four-member team also visited two villages led by pastor Kartic Chand and his brother Sudan Lal Rishidev on Nepal’s border with India. The impoverished area is inhabited by former migrants from India, many of whom don’t own their own property and work under conditions akin to bonded labor.
Pastor Chand himself became an Adventist several years ago after nearly dying from an illness that the local shaman and medical doctors couldn’t cure, Shrestha said. He came into contact with an Adventist who took him into his home for two weeks and prayed and cared for him.
“He got well, and his brothers and entire family accepted Jesus,” Shrestha said. “Today Kartic and his brother are very active sharing God’s love in the villages.”
Three people were baptized there last week. The visiting team also distributed rice, oil, and instant noodles to the villagers.
After several hours of driving, the team arrived at the village of Jante, which has a church led by pastor Jiwan Rai and a lifestyle center directed by Sandra Horner, a U.S. citizen affiliated with the Lay Institute for Global Health Training (LIGHT), a supporting ministry of the Adventist Church.
More than 100 people gathered at the church for the evangelistic meetings, and 15 people were baptized, including people from the lifestyle center.
The four-member team then headed toward the remote village of Manahari, located on the side of a steep mountain and a four-hour hike from the nearest road. The village, which learned about the Adventist Church from Adventist World Radio broadcasts, made a distress call to Pokharel after last year’s earthquake to report that all 30 of its closely packed houses had been damaged and no humanitarian aid was in sight. An Adventist team led by Pokherel was the first to arrive with supplies.
Last week, the team brought food and tin roofing to the villagers, who came down to a riverbed near the road to receive them.
“They were thankful to get the help,” Shrestha said. “They rolled up the roofing and carried them on their backs up the steep mountain. It was quite heartening to see their faces when they received the roofing.”
The 12-day trip ended with Pokharel and Coridan inaugurating a newly built church in Thumpakhar, a village about 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the Chinese border. The previous church was destroyed in the earthquake and the replacement was personally built by a South Korean pastor, HaeSeop Song. It is the fifth church that Song has built in Nepal in collaboration with the Nepal Section in recent months.