Börje Norlén and Georg Kjellberg reporting from their visit to Nepal, November 24-December 5, 2018
This visit to Nepal was our second one together, we made the first one in the spring, 2017. It was mainly ”the same procedure as last year”, but this time we could spend more time in the capital Kathmandu and that was very interesting.
First a few days in Kathmandu
The flight from Arlanda via Istanbul went well and pastor Mankaji and his wife Sarita were waiting for us at the airport. Mankaji had booked accomodation for us at the Five 14, a hotel run by Christians, and there we met among others people on assignment for the YWAM. We were very pleased with the hotel, the service and the staff, the hotel was peaceful and relaxing.
When we arrived in Kathmandu on November 24, the leader of the mission Håkan Gabrielsson and a few other Swedes were already there. Håkan invited us to an evening gathering at the home of pastor Raju Sundas, the leader of the work of the Lighthouse Foundation Nepal (LHFN) and also the church network Hosianna. Several missionary leaders had arrived there from various places, and it was very interesting to meet them and to hear of their experiences. They were visiting Nepal, since the international consultative board of LHFN, to which Håkan Gabrielsson and Gunnar Rydin belong, had gathered there for their annual meeting.On Sunday January 25 Håkan Gabrielsson and Raju Sundas had arranged for us to go visit different social projects run by the LHFN with the support from different sponsors. We visited girls homes and boys homes, where children who had been threatened by trafficking had found a sanctuary, we also visited most classes at the school that has the LHFN as the main trustee. The school houses pupils from preschool and all grades up to the senior level. We were very well received everywhere. All pupils wore neat school uniforms and very politely got on their feet to greet the Swedish guests.
Gunnar Rydin from Umeå, who is on the international consultative committee, went with us on the visit to the girl’s home and shared with us how it all started. The vision was born in Raju Sunda´s heart, when he met the degraded and exploited Badi people. The girls at the girls home have been saved from sexual abuse and are given help with education. Among others we met Hanna Badi, who now is getting an academic education, and at the same time is helping with work at the home.
Bible week in Panauti
Monday marked the start of the ”serious part” of our visit, as a car came to take us to the little hotel in Dulnikhel, where we also stayed during our previous visit The kind hotel manager, as helpful and service minded as always, was happy to see us again. It will be a long time before we forget the cold nights we had to endure this week, we had been warned that it could get cold, but I don´t think we had expected it to be that cold. Double quilts, cap and mittens were needed for us to get any sleep at all. It was strange that this cold pierced the very marrow of our bones, since the temperature never went below zero. During daytime the temperature was more than 20 above zero when there was sunshine, but oh the cold we suffered at night this week.
Six Bible books in 5 days
Our principal Hans Sundberg had given us the delicate task of getting through the Biblical poetry and wisdom literature during 5 days of teaching. More than 20 leaders from the surrounding churches had come together in the church of the Bijaya (victory) Church in Panauti and listened very patiently to our teaching. We consider it a real privilege to teach these faithful followers of Jesus, they have had to endure so much suffering for their faith in Jesus as the Saviour of the world.
Georg had been given the task to teach (the books of) Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and Lamentations; Börje took on the books of Psalms, Job and Song of Songs (Song of Solomon). There are so many amazing treasures hidden in those books and with the help of the Holy Spirit we tried to highlight what is relevant and universal through all times.
The Book of Job: Faithfulness, patience and commitment to God. Genuine friendship encourages rather than finds faults and adds additional burdens. God bestows restoration and compensation to the person who endures. At first you may find the book somewhat burdensome, but there are also many gems. The brightest of them all is a prophetic premonition of the risen Jesus Christ, as Job in the midst of his suffering cries out: ” I know that my Redeemer lives....” He also says that he has got an advocate against Satan´s accusations – a prophetic picture of the work of the Holy Spirit in our Christian lives today.
The Book of Proverbs: Words of wisdom from wise men in a condensed package – like ancient tweets. A proverb can say a lot using just a few words. Here it is stated that the fear of God is beginning of wisdom and we are encouraged to lead holy lives. Many different emotions and circumstances are described that we can all identify with and wise words of advice to ponder in difficult times. The Book of Psalms: God displays such versatility in a number of books in the Old Testament, as He uses a poetic language when addressing us!
The Book of Psalms:The Book of Psalms is the most outstanding book of the poetic books found in the Bible. All Bible readers most certainly have a favourite among the 150 psalms, that puts into words joy, sorrow, faith, suffering, the silence of God and other things we are faced with here on earth. The psalm most familiar to many is psalm 23, ”the shepherd´s psalm”, which has comforted so many through the centuries. Many have the Book of Psalms as their book of prayers, since there they find words to use in their prayer life as they encounter different situations
The Book of Ecclesiastes: Can be difficult to interpret. The key word is ”vanity” and this describes our human conditions ”under the sun”. This book is written by a disappointed and disillusioned king Solomon, who started his life so beautifully in humility and wisdom but was seduced into idolatry. There are many questions in the book, but few answers. The predominant words are emptiness, meaninglessness and vanity. Solomon becomes a deterrent example and thus we are advised to first of all have our minds fixed on God and realize that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom, which is the main purpose of this book.
The Song of Songs (Song of Solomon): A romantic love poem that is considered to be a gem in world literature because of its beautiful imagery and lyrical language. A book with many layers that defines human love between a man and a woman as a precious gift, given by God. It can also be read as a description of the love between Jesus and his church. The New Testament describes how Jesus loves his church, just like a bridegroom loves his bride. The celebration of love in the Song of Songs can be compared with ”The Way of Love” that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and the beautiful psalm 45 in the Book of Psalms, which speaks of the love that Messiah the King has for his heavenly bride. The same reciprocal yearning for intimacy that the couple in the Song of Songs express, can be ours as we respond to the love of God, who loved us first.
The Book of Lamentations: The very name of the book makes us want to shudder away, and indeed it is true that there are many things in this book that are difficult and heavy. However, there is an anchor of consolation in times of backsliding. God´s grace and mercy are always there for us, here and now, no matter how deep our falling away has been, because when we are unfaithful, the Lord still abides by His word. The covenant is not an abstract thing but always remains. God alone is a guarantee for this. God is willing to receive the people; their enemies are God´s enemies and God will come to their help, when they turn to him.
Our final days
When the Bible week came to a close, we took part in the worship service on Saturday (the day when services are held in Nepal) at the church in Panauti. Börje preached on some prominent characters in the Bible. Many came forward for prayers afterwards and we experienced how the Spirit of God brought liberation, healing and renewal. We rejoiced in the fact that with the church´s own initiative and with largely their own resources, they had built an additional upper storey on the church. There still remains a lot of work; they are continuing this step by step. We left our cold hotel in Dulnikhel in the afternoon and returned to Kathmandu, where we spent Monday visiting a big zoo near the hotel
On Tuesday we met the church founder Binod Singh, sent by the IPA (Indian Pentecostal Assemblies), whose founder David Prakasam is partnering with the church Arken and with Trosgnistan in India as well as in Nepal. Binod took us to visit homes for girls and for boys, a Bible school and two self-supporting under construction (a buffalo farm and dairy) It was very rewarding to meet Binod and see his wholehearted commitment to the work and to see him take time to associate with the locals.
We also had time for a brief visit to the textiles company Dinadi, started by the Swedish Mirjam and her Canadian husband Preston. The company designs and manufactures hand-knitted caps, mittens and other products, which are sold via the net and via distributors in Europe and the US. It is a socially well-functioning project that generates income for about 70 women in need, so they can support their children and pay for their education. It is a wonderful project that provides quality of life and protection from trafficking and other kinds of threats that people in need are exposed to. It was so good to meet Mirjam and Preston and to be given a glimpse of their dedicated work, which stands out like a huge light in the darkness; hope in the midst of misery and despair.
Finally, on Wednesday morning, December 5, pastor Binod came to drive us to the airport. He had his own special roads that helped us to avoid the worst traffic jams (the hectic traffic is quite a chapter of its own with all the motor bikes coming from all directions...) We are so thankful to the Lord and to Hans Sundberg who gave this confidence that took us on this blessed assignment, so do just like Mary did - we treasure up and ponded all this in our hearts.