Nepal: growing Church
The Church in Nepal continues to flourish amid pressure as a remarkable indigenous movement; the large majority of Nepali Christians worship and fellowship in thoroughly indigenous structures and networks. The Church is growing in numbers, diversity and maturity, but prayer is still needed regarding:
a) The public image of Christianity in Nepal is as a foreign, mostly Western, intrusion that undermines traditional culture and society and appeals only to lower castes. Despite this, Nepal’s Christians are, with increasing confidence, defending their rights and building a fully Nepali, fully Christian identity. Pray for discernment, courage and faithfulness for those seeking to overturn two generations of negative opinion.
b) Denominationalism. Many foreign-based denominations as well as indigenous networks of churches are established. Pray that the Church may be kept from division and error. Pray specifically for the Nepal Christian Society (NCS) as it seeks to provide a forum for prayer, sharing, unity and cooperative ministries.
c) Persecution remains, though less acute than in the past. It can come from the religious majority but also socially from within families and communities. Pray for grace and perseverance for believers, and that Christians may be accepted and appreciated for their contribution to the country’s well being. Pray also for the efforts of NCS and others seeking to secure the legal and religious rights of Christians regarding arbitrary arrests, evangelism, property, discrimination and other maltreatments.
d) Partnership between Nepali churches and foreign agencies. As the Nepali Church matures, it increasingly takes stake in ministry and mission to its own country. Foreign input, especially through finance, often generates tension or dependency and continues to be an issue. But the national Church is flourishing, and indigenous Christian NGOs are mushrooming around the country.
The next generation of Nepali Christians must build on the good foundation laid by their elders. Pray for:
a) Effective transfer of leadership to a second generation. Along with this challenge is the task of properly discipling both new believers and the large number of second-generation Christians.
b) Leadership training is possibly the most urgent need in the Church. For years, no formal training was available. Now, there are over 15 Bible colleges and seminaries. Many churches and agencies offer short-term and modular training courses. The majority are linked with the Association of Theological Educators, Nepal. GFA has three centres from which 100 Nepali evangelist-missionaries graduate annually. DAI just started Nepal’s first accredited Masters in Christian Leadership. The Institute for TEE in Nepal has over 3,000 students in half of Nepal’s districts. Despite these developments, there is a huge training shortfall. As the Church grows, the need for leadership-training structures and models becomes increasingly desperate. Pray for a multiplication of feasible, effective methods of ministry training.
c) Provision of pastors amid gripping poverty is a constant challenge. Since Nepal was never colonized by foreign powers and the Church is mostly outside of international fraternal structures, external financial support can be very low, and the temptation to extract income from foreign donors is great. Pray that leaders would learn to function as tentmakers, and that congregations would learn to support their pastors as much as they are able.
d) Holistic ministry. The Church stands at the crux of spiritual and physical needs and is well positioned to minister to both. The time has come for the Church to engage with the many needs in Nepali society. Pray for a paradigm shift in which Christians include social transformation as a key part of evangelization. Nepali Christian NGOs increasingly address holistic needs.