The Deanery of Nepal in the Diocese of Singapore, part of the Province of South East Asia, has issued an update, highlighting its work in supporting the victims of the April and May 2015 earthquakes that took the lives of 9,000 people; and of the remarkable growth in church numbers following the quakes.
How are the people coping after the quake?
After nine months, little has changed for the people affected by the earthquake that took the lives of about 9,000 and affected about eight million people. While most of the people living in the city like Kathmandu have moved on with life, thousands of our Anglican members residing in the mountainous regions of Dhading, Gorkha, Sindulpalchok and Ramechhap are still living in makeshift tents and shelters. They have overcome two major earthquakes in April and May 2015 respectively; 466 aftershocks with some measuring up to 6.5 on the Richter scale; one of the harshest monsoons, and are now braving one of the coldest Himalayan winters in the history of Nepal.
Many living on the lower elevation are experiencing snow for the first time. While the snow was a sight to behold, elderly and young children are dying from hypothermia and many have fallen ill. With tarpaulins as their only shelter, people have to start bonfires to keep warm at night. Unfortunately, in Dhading a family of four (parents and two young children) was burned alive when their tent caught fire. Such sad stories continue to dominate the news in the count
How is the current political situation?
The political situation of Nepal continues to be in limbo after the quake. To date, the new government is unable to resolve the political tensions between the political parties. As a result, one of the political groups (UDMF) backed by the Indian government set up a blockade at the border between Nepal and India. The blockade in the last five months resulted in huge shortages of key essentials like fuel, food, medical and building supplies. It has caused the people to suffer greatly and the economy also suffered a huge backlash as a result of the blockade.
Spirit-filled Confirmation services
Despite the extreme hardship, it does not stop the believers from worshiping and expressing their faith in God. Their hunger for God, their faith in God and their love for God were witnessed first-hand during the Confirmation services in December 2015. Bishop Rennis Ponniah and Bishop Kuan Kim Seng confirmed a total of more than 700 Anglican members in both Kathmandu and Tawal respectively.
After the quake, the Anglican Church in Nepal saw a growth of 33.3 per cent from the previous year. While a growth rate of 11 per cent is normal with the fastest Christian growth rate in the world (2013 study by the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity, Gordon Conwell Seminary), a 33.3 per cent growth can only be the divine work of our Amazing God. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47b). 15 new congregations will be planted in the coming days to cater for this Amazing growth.
Two things stood out on how God brought about this Amazing growth in the Anglican Church of Nepal after the quake. Firstly, through the miraculous healing of the sick. The quake destroyed most medical health posts and facilities in the mountainous regions. With the lack of medical health posts, facilities, and medical personnel, many pre-believers of other faiths had nowhere to turn to except to their Christian neighbours for prayer. As a result of their miraculous healing experience, many are now turning to Christ.
Secondly, the medical and relief work by ACROSS, our local parishes and our mission partners brought the love of our Lord Jesus Christ to the people. One new convert from the village of Kichet shared, “No one had cared for us . . . But you travelled so many thousand miles to bring us rice, blankets and medicines. We have never experienced this kind of love. . .”
It is heart-warming to hear stories of how Christians are practicing Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Christians are literally selling their lands to buy rice and other relief supplies for the poor, and giving basic supplies to those who are unable to care for themselves. Truly, love is shared through the sacrificial love of these believers.
Project Taja Asa (Fresh Hope)
As the Deanery of Nepal engaged in the rebuilding of churches that were destroyed by the two quakes, it will be rebuilding not only the physical buildings but also the community of people. Nehemiah took 52 days to rebuild the walls, but 12 years to rebuild the community. Project Taja Asa is about imparting life skills to the community of God’s people in Nepal, giving them fresh hope in Christ Jesus.