“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. ’” (Acts 1:6-8; NKJV)
How long has it been since our Lord and Savior spoke those words? Almost 2,000 years ago. Yet even today we witness the gospel being proclaimed in all regions of the world. It is our Lord Jesus Christ who is building His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Nevertheless, He has called us as Christians to bear witness to the truth unto all nations, tribes, languages, and peoples. Through the book of Acts, we are privileged to behold the beginnings of the Apostolic witness of the gospel in Jerusalem and Judea, even to the city of Rome. The Holy Spirit is still empowering and directing the church to obey our Lord. With this in mind, it is my honor and privilege to share with you some of the amazing work that Christ is doing in the country of Nepal.
Until eight years ago, Nepal was a kingdom ruled by a dynasty that lasted over two hundred years. In 2006 the king was deposed and civil war broke among all the regions of Nepal. Two years later, the government finally stabilized into the form of a parliamentary/democratic republic that remains in power unto the present day.
The beginnings of the proclamation of the gospel in Nepal can be traced back to British and American missionaries from India who came to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Despite opposition from the Hindu culture and the king, some of the first organized churches were planted in the 1950’s around Kathmandu, the capital city. Since then, the gospel has spread to many of the mountain villages and country towns (among which some of the inhabitants speak their own native dialect). According to the official census of Nepal, Christians constitute 1-2% of a total population numbering 26. 4 million. While the government proclaims a tolerance of religion, many Christians still suffer persecution from their unbelieving neighbors.
I was invited to visit Nepal in the fall of 2014 by a Nepalese pastor named Krishna (Caleb) Acharya who came to the United States to raise funds to support ministries in Nepal and later he began to attend a seminary. We first met him two years ago when he and his family came and visited Rehoboth RCUS in Los Angeles one Sunday. Before his conversion, he was a Hindu priest in his village of Jumla. In God’s sovereign mercy and grace, he went to India on business and heard the gospel through an American missionary. He came to faith in Christ and has a great passion for the proclamation of the gospel among his people. He was instrumental in planting a number of churches in Nepal before coming to the USA. While attending seminary here, he was introduced to Reformed theology and is becoming more and more convinced that it is the truth. It is his desire and goal that the Reformed faith be established in the churches of Nepal. Since we first met, my father (Rev. Mike Voytek) and I have had many theological discussions with him and learned more about the situation in Nepal. In September of 2014, he asked me if I would be interested in joining him on a mission trip to Nepal in December. Since I had completed my college studies, I accepted the invitation.
We arrived in Kathmandu on December 5th but Caleb and his family had to immediately set out for Chitwan in Central Nepal because of a death in the family. I stayed in the city for a couple days with a friend of Caleb’s named Janak and was able to observe the culture of the big city as well as Christianity’s presence there. I visited Janak’s church that Saturday and witnessed a Nepali Christian worship service. The service primarily consisted of prayer and praise with the sermon spoken at the end after the collection of tithes and offerings. Afterwards, I was able to do some sightseeing of Kathmandu with Caleb’s brother Prashant, who is also a pastor of a church in Western Nepal. The next day, I departed via tourist bus to rendezvous with Caleb in Chitwan.
Upon arriving in Tandi, just south of Chitwan’s main city of Bharatpur, I met with Sonish Pandey, the son of Pastor Krishna Pandey (our host in Chitwan). He took me to our base of operations at the Mercy Home Orphanage. Caleb, his family, and I remained at Mercy Home for about six days before renting a car to drive to Western Nepal on December 12. During our stay in Chitwan, we were able to participate in a number of outreach and teaching opportunities, such as teaching the children at the orphanage, conversing and ministering to the members of the church that meets in the orphanage, teaching youth the biblical concept of covenant as well as American church history (per their request) at a one day conference, and witnessing to all by our words and actions.
On December 12, we drove to Kohalpur in Western Nepal to stay with Prashant and his family. We visited the church that Prashant is
pastoring and were able to minister to the saints there, even with a violin on occasion. I observed an evangelistic outreach at a local soccer game and taught at a Leadership Builders Conference. My assigned topic was the biblical basis and necessity for a church to be ruled by elected and ordained church officers such as pastors, elders, and deacons. Caleb, in the meantime, visited family members and neighbors from his home town of Jumla who migrated to Kohalpur years earlier. He was able both to share the gospel and to minister to the believers. We were also able to travel to the district of Bardiya to visit Caleb’s family and to meet with Christians in the village of Gola on the western side of the Girwa River.
After our visit in Western Nepal, we drove back to Chitwan to do some final teaching and outreach before returning to Kathmandu for the return home. I had two opportunities on Saturday, December 20th, to bring God’s Word (exhort) to two congregations in the Tandi area including the church meeting at Mercy Home. Once we had rested for a couple days, we traveled to Kathmandu on December 23rd where I spent the night before departing for America the next day. Caleb and his family remained in Kathmandu for five more days visiting Christians and pastors as well as arranging the publication of teaching aids on the Bible for lay Christians.
I am pleased to report that the work of God is evident among the lives of the Christians in Nepal, especially among the believers I was privileged to meet. They are conscious of the cultural expectations and pressures of Hinduism, yet they embrace the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in their lives and in their witness to their family, neighbors, and friends. They remind me of children in the faith who desire to serve God in whatever way they can, even though they lack solid biblical teaching.
While they may have a heart of service, these Christians, for the most part, lack a basic understanding of the Bible and of sound doctrine. Even the pastors and leaders know very little about the Bible and theology, let alone Reformed theology and practice. Their worship services reflect a Pentecostal and Charismatic approach to worship which emphasizes subjective feelings rather than the objective truth which includes the rules for proper conduct according to the Scriptures (decently and in order). Because of this emphasis on subjective experience, there is a lack of Biblical discipleship among the families in their homes. What follows is a child-like understanding of both doctrine and life which is primarily due to ignorance rather than disobedience.
Nevertheless, the believers are very desirous to learn the truth that is found in the Bible. When Caleb and I taught on the various themes of covenant, presbyterian church government, Bible study methods, and a Reformed understanding of salvation (God saves sinners), nearly all of the saints received the Word of God with joy, including the pastors and leaders. One pastor came up to me after a teaching session one day and he asked me, “Where did you learn all of this Bible knowledge?” I simply responded by saying, “My father, my mother, and the elders in my church.” As Caleb told me later, that man left the conversation both pleased with my response and convicted with the charge to teach his youth all of Scripture. Even the pastors at the Leadership Builders conference in Kohalpur, after hearing my teaching session on presbyterian church government, discussed among themselves afterwards saying, “We need to implement these principles in our churches.” In sum, the vast majority of pastors and leaders are hungry to learn biblical teaching, and in many ways reveal a humility that is often lacking in many Christians around the world.
I write this report to both present the state of the church in Nepal as well as to share some specific prayer requests that Caleb, the brethren there, and I lay before you. First and foremost, we ask for prayer for the reformation of the church as a whole in Nepal. Pray that the pastors and leaders would desire to learn more from the Word of God and to bring sound, biblical doctrine and practice to their flocks. Second, we ask for prayer for the Lord to raise up pastors and teachers who are willing to travel to Nepal to teach Reformed theology to the leaders there. Third, we ask for prayer for openness and willingness on the part of the Nepalese leaders and the believers to both learn and apply biblical teaching in their homes and families. Fourth, we ask for prayer for the financial support of pastors who are prevented from serving the churches they are called to because of the need to provide for their families. Fifth, we ask for prayer for the current ministries among orphanages, schools, and career development organizations (i.e. training girls to sew instead of being forced to become victims of human trafficking), that they would continue their service to reach out to their communities with the gospel both in word and in deed.
I give thanks to God our Father who has prospered us in our journeys and has brought us safely home. I would like to thank all those who prayed for us during our travels as we had many more opportunities to minister than we had expected. Please lift up the brethren of Nepal in your prayers and if you have any further questions about the trip and about the work in Nepal, feel free to contact me at (209) 224-4356 or email me at divoytek94@gmail. com.
I would like to close with a passage from Psalm 98:1-3, which says, “Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
David Voytek, Los Angeles, CA
Soli Deo Gloria