May 4, 2015

Adventists in Nepal Timidly Return to Church After Quake

, news editor, Adventist Review

With some trepidation, scores of Seventh-day Adventists across Nepal gathered inside — and outside — churches to worship on Sabbath, May 2, a week after a powerful earthquake devastated the country.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck during Sabbath services on April 25, destroying at least four Adventist churches and damaging others. No Adventists are known to be among the more than 7,000 people who were killed in the disaster.

“On Sabbath, the first week after the earthquake, our members were a little worried but they went to church with faith and thanked God,” said Umesh Pokharel, president of the Adventist Church in Nepal.

The main Gathaghar Central Church in the capital, Kathmandu, began worship services at 10 a.m. as usual, but the pastor decided as a precaution to meet on the ground floor instead of the customary larger hall on the second floor.

Seventy-eight people, including children, listened to the sermon preached by elder Bhaju Ram Shrestha, but some people ended up standing outside because of a lack of space, Pokharel said.

Pokharel himself preached at the Thankot church in the Kathmandu valley. Only 16 people attended.

“We didn't have Sabbath school, and after the church service we went to see our members who have been affected by the earthquake and are staying in tents,” Pokarel said. “We also visited other families who are not Christian.”

Pokarel, accompanied by his wife and young son, gave sacks of rice, boxes of instant noodles, and bottles drinking water to several families and prayed with them.

“We had supplies in our vehicle that we gave to them. They were very happy,” he said. “By the time we came home it was 5 o’clock.”

A Look at Some Other Churches

Among the other Adventist congregations that worshiped on Sabbath:

  • The Lubu church in the Kathmandu valley. Rakesh Lamicchane, treasurer of the Adventist Church in Nepal, preached to a congregation of 14 people at the Lubu church. Some members, fearful of another earthquake, did not attend. “It was a short church service,” Pokarel said. “They spent time in prayer, and some of our members gave testimonies.”
  • The Banepa church at Adventist-operated Scheer Memorial Hospital near Kathmandu. The worship service started as usual at 9 a.m. under the guidance of pastor Kumar Adhakari. Farandando Cardona, a doctor at the hospital, preached to an audience of around 80 people. Several people shared their testimonies, and church members met after the service to plan relief operations.
  • The Lele church. The local pastor reported that only a few people showed up. Lele members were among the hundreds of remotely located people who received aid from an Adventist Church relief team led by Pokarel last week.
  • The Balaju church. Worship services started at 10:30 a.m. but attendance was lower.
  • The Sanga church. Worship services started at 10 a.m. with Binod Dahal, accountant for the Adventist Church in Nepal, teaching Sabbath school and local pastor Ganesh Niroula preaching.
  • The Sindhupalchock district. All four Adventist churches in this district, which was severely affected by the earthquake, held worship services, but one church chose to meet outdoors. Attendance was as usual.

The Adventist Church has 8,859 members worshiping in 106 congregations in Nepal, according to the latest figures from the General Conference’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. The Hindu-dominated country has a population of about 28 million.

Video footage of ADRA’s relief work in Nepal. Without commentary. Video courtesy of ADRA Nepal

ADRA Rejoices Over a “Princess”

Meanwhile, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, which is distributing aid to the general population, saw the birth on Saturday of a great-granddaughter to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as an opportunity to rejoice over the rescue of a baby girl named Natini.

“Not every baby girl can be born a princess, but 4-month-old Natini is a survivor,” ADRA said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“Buried under the rubble for an hour after Nepal's tragic quake, she was limp and blue when people from her village dug her out,” ADRA said. “Her mother held her as villagers sprayed her with water, and her eventual cries were a joyful noise.”

One thing Natini has in common with the new royal baby is the fact that she is surrounded by people who adore her, it said.

“Our team couldn’t get enough!” it said, posting photos of ADRA workers cuddling the baby girl in their arms.

ADRA said it was distributing shelter supplies in Natini’s region of Nepal and renewed an appeal for donations. 

Read “ADRA Races to Hand Out Tents in Rainy Nepal”

The Adventist Church in Nepal also asked for donations on Sunday. 

“A crowd gathered when we reached the Malamchi area today, and they demanded that we help the community,” said Pokharel, who resumed an effort from last week to lead a church relief team to Adventists in remote villages. “We gave out rice, tents, and noodles to our believers as well as the community.”

But he said supplies were running low.

“There is so much need,” he said. “Other organizations and the government are also trying to reach remote areas, but it is not enough.”

He said his relief team planned to install a much-needed water-purification system in a village on Monday.

“We need blankets and more food,” he said. “Kindly remember us in your prayers.”

An Odd Quake in Michigan

In an odd development, a church in the U.S. state of Michigan was making a Sabbath worship appeal for Nepal donations when the unimaginable happened — an earthquake shook the building.

Read “Quake Shakes U.S. Church as Adventist Pastor Makes Nepal Appeal”

Video footage of Michael Taylor, pastor of the Paw Paw Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lawton, in southeast Michigan, shows the camera shake as he asks for funds for Nepal.

Taylor paused for a moment, telling church members to just “act natural,” before returning to his appeal.

Only later did church members learn that a 4.2-magnitude earthquake had shaken southern Michigan. No injuries or damages were reported.