Report by Phil Tate, February 2019
I was privileged to visit our good friends and partners in the Gospel – Milan and Shusma for 9 days along with Dan Holland. I can only describe this as a truly amazing and inspiring experience, where I was able to gain so much from observing and serving among the Nepalese believers. The main focus of the trip was to speak at a conference in a region called Hetauda for around 200 Nepalese. The title was ‘Serving the Lord Joyfully in the Holy Spirit’ and let me tell you there was so much joy released through the gatherings of praise and worship. We also had the opportunity to visit some believers and speak at the Annandit Church in Kathmandu and at some of the newer church plants.
REFLECTIONS ON A GROWING CHURCH
The Nepalese Church at this time is absolutely flourishing and bursting into life in areas where people had never heard the good news of Jesus! Our friends Milan and Shusma who were trained in Ichthus in the early 2000’s, have themselves been involved in supporting a seventh church plant recently! God is so good! The preaching of the word is often confirmed by signs and miracles and Dan and I had the privilege of praying for many people, some of whom explained through interpretation how they had received healing instantly. One Elder we prayed for sent me a message almost twelve months later, just to encourage me he was still healed of a long term knee problem that was scheduled for hospital treatment before receiving prayer!
This supernatural church growth is excellent news for Christians everywhere to celebrate, pray for and to learn from. There are so many reflections I have from this trip that I would love to share with you, and here are a few of them:
1. Serious Prayer
The outstanding growth and miraculous growth being witnessed in Nepal and in other places, is directly linked to deep, fervent and consistent prayer. The two leaders I spent some time with in Kathmandu and Hetauda both had prayer towers – high places they spent regular time in to pray over the area, the church and nation. Spending time with believers who were gathering early to pray and fast was humbling, but clearly it is creating a spiritual momentum and life, which stimulates intimacy with Jesus and is key in seeing more salvations, growth and discipleship. Here, many of the churches are lifting up prayers for the nation, for one another, for salvation, and for healing all the time. Believers gather in small groups, sometimes as often as twice a day to pray and worship and intercede for the nation, growth of the church and personal issues. They are expecting and experiencing growth daily just like the early church!
2. Simple Church Life
Acts 2:42 “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
One of the striking things any observer from the West would make of the Nepalese church is the very simple nature of church life. In the villages especially, church buildings consist of a very basic construction made with easy to gather materials; think corrugated metal roofs and crudely finished walls and floors! There are usually no seats and sparse decor. I preached early one freezing cold morning in a new church plant, in a tiny room on a threadbare carpet where about 35 believers and 5 Hindu seekers packed in to hear more about Jesus. They started the service that day by giving thanks for God’s provision of the carpet to cover the hard concrete floor we were sat on. We worshipped Jesus, prayed for church growth and I preached for around an hour and then we prayed for everyone. Church services are simple yet deep and beautiful. Passionate all-age worship led by very zealous musicians. The power and impact of gathered worship has literally nothing to do with the excellence or professionalism of the church building or worship leaders, but everything to do with the humble love of the believers for Jesus. There were no gimmicks, just authentic and passionate and I was very tempted to stay much longer, just to drink it all in!
3. Transformed Lives
Ezekiel 36:26–And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
One of the main reasons I saw that the church in Nepal continues to grow at a fast pace is the real transformation taking place in the lives of ordinary people who are putting their trust in Jesus. Whether from a Hindu or Buddhist background, or facing the challenges of addiction or sickness, people are coming to Jesus, or searching for Him because they are hearing of, or witnesses to what God can do in a person who comes to follow Jesus.
Some of the stories are beautiful, such as the church planted on the outskirts of Kathmandu amongst a leper colony. Where they once lived as total outcasts, through the church they are now learning how loved they are by Jesus. The team continue to carry out magnificent work each day in social care, the orphanage home, micro financing, education and women’s employment through the church.
What a wonderful opportunity and one which fills me with great hope and expectation of what the Lord can do with us in London and the UK!