May 21, 2015

Nepal’s Adventists Find New Source of Energy: Helping Others

, news editor, Adventist Review

The leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nepal has not slept a full night since a deadly earthquake devastated the country nearly a month ago.

Umesh Pokharel, president of the Nepal Section, part of the Southern Asia Division, has been on the move every day with a team of 10 other Adventist relief workers, delivering tents and food to church members and their neighbors.

The trips to remote areas of Nepal start early in the morning and can end late a night. Pokharel is sometimes jarred awake by aftershocks.

“I haven't slept properly after first earthquake hit the country,” he said. “Still I feel fresh and full of energy to travel between various villages.”

Pokharel said he has discovered a well of energy that he didn’t know existed before the earthquake, and he credited it to God.

“I have personally experienced that when we help people who are in desperate need, it gives us more strength and assurance that God is guiding us for His cause,” he said. “And all our members feel the same way.”

Pokharel spoke of the tireless efforts of his team members as they have cared for those left destitute by the April 25 earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people and a slightly less powerful earthquake that killed more than 100 people on May 12. None of the church’s 4,000 members were injured.

Here are the 10 team members, in the words of Pokharel:

  • Elder Bhaju Ram tells me that he is happy to give his time, talents, and money for the people in need. He is giving all his time for mission and to the members of the church.
  • Elder Rakesh Lamichhane, our treasurer, has been sleeping at the office and seemingly working day and night. He also feels that when he sees people suffering, he needs to be with them and help however possible.
  • Pastor Kuber Lamichhe, who seems to be working around the clock, tells me that he is renewed with strength when he visits earthquake victims.
  • Pastor Kumar Adhakari reminds me often that we need to do whatever we can to help others. He has spoken of gaining a feeling of satisfaction in helping people in need.
  • Binod Dahal, a courageous young man, has traveled to many villages, rescuing people trapped in rubble, helping clear destroyed homes, and building temporary shelters for our members.
  • Pukar Shretha is in the field, building tin-roofed shelters for two of our workers and a church in Sangachock in the Sindhuplachock district. Pukar has a helpful nature and tells me that he is always willing to go wherever he is needed.
  • Sunil Niroula, another young man, is available to assist at any time.
  • Bikram Shrestha, our driver, keeps reassuring me that he is happy to travel to any village to help.
  • Krishan Shrestha, another driver, says his heart breaks whenever he sees people suffering.
  • Ganesh Niroula tells me that he has to give his all whenever he visits earthquake victims.

As of this week, the team has distributed 550 sacks of rice, 500 boxes containing cups of instant noodles, 500 packs of cooking oil, 400 tents, and 500 boxes containing packages of biscuits.

Pokharel said much more aid is needed, especially mosquito nets, blankets, tents, tin roofs, and food, as the rainy season approaches.

Read “Adventist Leader in Nepal Calls for Prayer After New Quake”

The church has also installed water-purification systems in five villages and built a tin-roof house for Bible workers in Sangachock village. Construction work has started on two similar houses for Adventist believers in Sirubari village, and two temporary churches in Kaping and Thumpakhark.

Pokharel described making friends with non-Christian villagers during his frequent trips to remote areas. Eight families live in one village near Dolalgath, and all 10 local children recognize his car and run out to greet him when he approaches.“I have became a friend of the families, and the last time I was there, on May 18, I gave them some of the things that I had,” he said. “I promised to bring clothes next time.”

He praised God for giving him and the team strength to carry on and a better understanding of His loving nature.

“I want to share whatever I have with these people and with an open heart,” he said. “This gives me strength and peace of my mind.”

Umesh Pokharel giving a tent to a villager on April 13, the day after the second earthquake.