My name is Hari Karki and I am from eastern Nepal. I have been serving the Lord for more than a decade now. I was brought up in a Hindu family, but heard the gospel and committed my life to our Savior, Jesus Christ, in 2002. Now I pastor a church in Kathmandu, where I live with my wife and two daughters. I also conduct leadership training in remote villages throughout the country, often in partnership with Western churches and missionaries.
The Early Days of Missions
Nepal was a closed land, especially for the gospel, until the middle of the 20th century. In the early 17th and 18th century, various unsuccessful attempts were made to introduce the gospel in the country. This led many missionaries to start their work along the border of Nepal. The Church of Scotland started began laboring in Darjeeling, India, where many Nepalese lived. The work flourished, especially at the hands of two missionaries, Rev. Archibad Turnbull and Rev. W.S. Sutherland.
The early Christians there were visionaries, dedicated and missions-minded. They didn’t just evangelize, they also discipled and trained. Their lives and teaching made a great impact upon the people around them. This work remained focused in the areas surrounding Darjeeling and Kalimpong .
The attempts made for inland Nepal didn’t find success until 1943. From that point on God began moving missionaries from all over the world into Nepal. Churches began to be established in 1952. Many of those early believers faced great persecution, but they didn’t give up their faith. Many were imprisoned, beaten, and excommunicated. But the gospel still flourished throughout the country. In and through all of these difficulties God was at work.
The Modern Look of Missions
In August 2017, Nepal enacted a law to curb evangelism by criminalizing religious conversion. This move joined neighboring countries like India and Pakistan, where the region’s small-but-growing Christian minority faces government threats to their faith. However, hundreds are still coming to follow Christ daily. With the development of roads, hospitals, and information technology, the gospel has travelled all over Nepal. Although initially resistant, many people respond to the good news of salvation after experiencing the power of Christ to heal themselves or their family members.
Just as Jesus’ said to his disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few…” (Matthew 9:37), so is the situation in Nepal. Many Nepalis go abroad to study, work, and make their future bright. Due to migration we have been losing many good Christians and church leaders. There are many new believers and churches all over Nepal, but we are lacking leaders, especially in the villages.
When it comes to the needs of the church in a place like Nepal, there are two important ways Western churches and missionaries can help. However, they are not the needs of the early days of missions.
The first need is Biblical teaching. Many people are hearing the gospel and being saved, but most of them remain very shallow in their knowledge of Scripture. They get easily confused with false teachings. In the past, God graciously used any leaders who had a willing heart to serve the church. But now, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, people are in need of solid food. Thus, the churches of Nepal desperately need the solid food of the biblical teaching.
The second need is discipleship. In earlier years there were many in Nepal who had not heard the gospel, but now many encountered it through television, radio, tracts, movies, dramas, testimonies, social media, and so on. However, many who have heard the gospel do not understand how to respond and live according to its power (Romans 1:16). That also means they do not know how to pass on their faith to others, to make disciples. Therefore, the new believers of Nepal desperately need discipleship.
Nations like Nepal don’t just need Westerners to come and be the leaders, but to raise up national leaders. Many people come to the church to find peace, joy, and healing, mostly people from poor economic backgrounds. Many Christian parents must send their children to public school, where the education they receive doesn’t allow them to compete for Nepal’s limited vocations of influence. Thus, many of the brightest Christian students and potential leaders move abroad to study and work. Often they become migrant laborers and send home what little they earn. However, if young Christians could develop skills in industries like coffee, technology, cuisine, education, fashion, linguistics, and construction, they could remain in the country, not only supporting their families, but leading the church.
This is why I conduct leadership training in remote villages. This allows Christians and churches from the surrounding area to receive some measure of biblical teaching, discipleship, and education. It may not seem as exciting to Western churches and missionaries as the early days of missions in Nepal, but it is just as important to the advancement of God’s kingdom among the nations.