March 06, 2013

Nepal: Growing the Body of Christ

As the Nepalese church experiences rapid growth, seminars help untrained pastors from rural villages to read, teach, and preach God’s word.

  • Learning God’s Word

    Church leaders learned valuable lessons about how to preach and teach God's word. Most do not have formal Biblical training.

Nepal is a beautiful country in the Himalayas, and its people are hungry for God's Word. The poverty of a failed Hindu kingdom and a Maoist civil war turned many in Nepal into searching people. The good news of Jesus is spreading quickly in Nepal, and the church is growing faster than the availability of Bible teaching. There's a great need for people who can interpret and teach God's Word.

Imagine this scenario: a man comes to the city of Kathmandu for work and hears about the good news of Jesus. He returns to his remote mountain village and tells his neighbors about God's love through the cross of Christ. Two or three families begin to follow Jesus and they meet in their homes to worship. Three years later, the congregation in the village grows to 60 people. The believers in the village are hours away from the nearest church; their leader has a basic eighth grade education and has never been to seminary. The pastor is making deep personal sacrifices to stay in ministry, but there is nobody around to mentor or encourage him. Each Sunday, he tries to teach what he knows – that God loves us and Jesus died for us – but he thinks to himself, "I don't know how to study or teach the Bible. Who can guide me?"

A seminar for church leaders from the villages of rural Nepal is offering help. 70 pastors gathered recently at one-week seminar taught by a TEAM missionary and South Asian pastor. They learned how to study a Bible passage and practiced their skills together in small groups by interpreting the Gospel of Mark. They also learned the steps for preparing a sermon and then preached in their small groups and received feedback.

The TEAM missionary taught an overview of the book of Genesis and modeled how to interpret and teach it. He focused on the opening chapters of Genesis, teaching about the gracious and powerful God who created all things, who we are as his people, and the tragic results of not trusting and obeying his commands.

The church leaders asked questions and gave feedback to the teachers as they sipped tea together between sessions. One rural pastor said, "I like the teaching from Genesis so much. I'm going to return to my church in my village and teach from Genesis about God's authority, marriage, and sin." Another pastor pointed his finger to his forehead and said, "You teach Genesis in a way that makes it stick in my head." A third leader confided that after 18 years of following Jesus, he's finally beginning to understand the book of Genesis.

As more rural church leaders get the teaching and training they need, they will be able to help their congregations deepen their spiritual growth as well. That’s good news for the growing body of Christ in Nepal.

-Written by a missionary in South Asia
-Photo provided by missionary