Report from our visit to Nepal 1-8 March 2020

Eric Paulsson, pastor from Finspång and Börje Norlén, pensioner from Akalla, have been to Panauti in Nepal, about 60 kilometers southwest of the capital Kathmandu, to teach from the historical books of the Old Testament. It was Börje´s third visit there and Eric´s second one.

The participants in the bible week, flanked by the guest teachers Eric Paulsson & Börje Norlén. The poster in the background was printed for the 25th anniversary in November 2018 and describes the vision, the mission and the designated goals for the following 25 years.

Cold outdoors and indoors
The advantage of our visit this time was that we spent the entire time where the teaching took place and thus didn´t have to spend two hours driving there every day on stony and narrow roads. We stayed in simple rooms in the flat that was built on top of the church, and we used some of Kalusing Tamang´s private flat. As always we were welcomed with great kindness and generosity and were given the very best service and help. When I (Börje) last visited Nepal in December 2018, it was rather cold and bleak, indoors as well as outdoors, and I was somewhat foolish thinkung that it hardly could be worse this time. However, it almost turned out just like that. We kept our clothes on as we went to bed and had 2 quilts and a bedspread on top, so we weren´t that keen on getting up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. It was as usual cold both indoors and outdoors, and especially in the mornings as we started worship, it was very cold indeed.
Some days we had sunshine and then it was a bit more endurable. However, my lasting impression and memory is that of a raw and icy coldness penetrating the very marrow of our bones.

Teaching that covered about one third of the Bible during five efficient days.
We, Eric & Börje, had been given a great task by our principal the theologian Hans Sundberg to go through the first 17 books of the Old Testament. They consist of the historical books from Genesis to the book of Esther. Looking back I can see that these books make up about half of the Old Testament and one third of the entire Bible. Since we only had a week, Monday through Friday, set aside for the teaching, you can understand that we had to be rhapsodical as we went through the books. We made stops at certain events and thus we could open up the texts. These books acoount for events within the span of thousands of years, written and compiled during about 1000 years.

Concentrated teaching
An average of 25 leaders were gathered every day in the Bijaya church in Panauti. Bijaya means victory and in the autumn of 2019 the 25th anniversary was celebrated. For this seminar some participants had travelled as far as 60 Swedish miles but the majority of the participants had travelled about 5 Swedish miles. The first local Evangelical Christian pioneer work had been founded by the apostle Kalusing Tamang about 30 years ago.Kalusing is now 57 years old and is still very important as a mentor and a coordinator for the work. He personally took part in most of the sessions, serving us in a practical way and giving encouraging talks to the participants as a complement to the teaching of the day. It was very positive to see how very eager the participants were to read larger portions from the books. Sometimes the reading seemed to give new insights and everybody joined in with praise and laughter, for instance when the wicked and proud Haman in the book of Esther met with the fate he himself had prepared for Mordecai. It was also very good to have the opportunity to fellowship in the evenings, to meet and listen to thoughts, sharing personal experiences. Because of the extensiveness of the text, I (Börje) tried to concentrate on certain occasions of vital importance, for instance the creation, the Fall and its consequences, the patriarchs , the covenant with Israel, the presence of the Triune God during the walk through the desert, the covenants, the ten commandments, the law, grace and judgement, the prototypes in the tabernacle and the temple. Add to that alsothe introduction of some of the most important people and the importance of the prototypes in the light of the New Testament ( there was regrettably not time to further expand on those subjects). The participants were each given a summary of the teaching, translated into Nepali, as a help for them as they share the teaching when they are home again.

Many lasting impressions
To sum it all up the fellowship with the leaders gave me so much during that intense week, not the least in prayer and worship. The spiritual fellowship with brothers and sisters teaches us that we belong together, despite difficulties to communicate with each other. Just like on the previous visits we were given the very best service and help, kindness and simple but tasty food. It was also so rewarding to get to know dear brother Eric and share thoughts on many various subjects. We soon discovered that we had many things in common. On the closing Saturday (the Christian worship day in Nepal) I preached to a decimated congregation in the capital Kathmandu, since it had been raining half of the night and all morning that day, and many were unable to come to the service. The remaining four days I stayed on in the capital city, staying in a hotel, taking walks and letting my icy cold body thaw. On the final day I was joined by Eric who had stayed for a few days in Panauti leading a an intensive seminar on economics and entrepeneurship. He will share this himself in his report. We were just about able to fly home to Sweden before the breaking out of the covid-19 pushed off to paralyse many parts of the world. But that is quite another story.

Börje and Eric teaches, Mankaji Tamang is the patient interpeter     The pioneer Kalusing & local leaders

Some comments from Eric Paulsson
It was very enriching for me to have fellowship with Börje during the week in Panauti. It was very interesting to share experiences and thoughts about different periods in Swedish Christianity, that Börje knew so much about. We became good friends during these days! I also learned to appreciate anew Panauti as a place, compared to my previous visit. This time we stayed on location in Bijaya Church and every afternoon after the teaching session we went for long walks in the surroundings on impossible as well as possible paths. Sometimes we found ourselves in the middle of the fields and along steep slopes and could enjoy the beauty of the place from various outlooks. After Börje had left for Kathmandu, Mankaj and Nitzan took me on outings to special places in Panauti – very much appreciated indeed.
Teaching on working life, economics and entrepeneurship

Participants of the teaching on working life, economics and entrepeneurship

On Sunday I continued to teach biblical principles on economics, working life and entrepeneurship for a smaller group, consisting of about 15 people. The purpose was to convey a Kingdom perspective on these areas as a foundation for being able to start some projects with micro financing. To me this was a very important part of my visit to Nepal. I had planned to go there already earlier with the intent to initiate a few of these small projects. Now at last it could be implemented and it was such a joy to see this happen. Now five project groups were created, that each, with a small starting fund, will launch a project. The main purpose of the projects is to support the pastors and leaders who are working in churches connected to Bijaya Church. The goal is also that the projects will generate a surplus to enable new projects for self-support further on.

Erik Paulsson & Börje Norlén