A young church planter finds inspiration and instruction at a Christian leadership training program supported by Samaritan's Purse in Nepal
For three years Amar’s sister had tried every treatment available for her debilitating illness, including concoctions from witch doctors. Nothing helped.
In desperation, she followed the advice of a Christian in her community who persuaded her to come to church. Members of the congregation began praying for the young woman, and her health gradually improved.
Amar didn’t believe in miracles, so when his sister announced she was healed he traveled to Kathmandu to see for himself.
Astonished by his sister’s dramatic recovery, Amar wanted to know what happened to bring about this transformation. His joy turned to disappointment, however, as she explained her decision to abandon their Hindu heritage and worship the Christian God.
“How could she dishonor her Nepali family and their long-held traditions?” he wondered in his heart. Amar feared the spirits would retaliate and curse them with misfortune.
Although skeptical at first, Amar saw that his sister’s faith was genuine.
“She told me she was healed because of her faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “I saw lots of changes in her life.”
Amar finally accepted her invitation to go to a church service. She shared the Gospel with him and urged him to receive Jesus as his Savior.
His heart changed profoundly when he too made that courageous decision. He soon had a new mission—to tell others the Good News. He began sharing the Gospel in his Himalayan village and assembled a small but growing group of believers for worship and prayer.
Amar had the enthusiasm to tell others about Jesus, but what he lacked was a firm grounding in the Word of God. He needed someone to disciple him before he could become an effective church leader.The new believer enrolled in a Christian leadership training program established by a Samaritan’s Purse ministry partner in Nepal. The program was launched seven years ago to train and equip Christian men and women for service in their local communities.
The summer session that Amar attended included 11 men and four women representing seven districts in the western and mid-western regions of the country.
As part of their studies, the students memorized 100 verses from the Bible. One student memorized 230 verses! Ten students read the entire Bible during the course.
Amar supplemented the Bible classes with studies in evangelism and church planting, preaching, and basic counseling. Spiritual discipline—encouraged in every Christian’s life but essential for church leaders—was emphasized through morning devotions, prayer, fasting, and daily quiet times.
Practical training was also a requirement for graduation. Most students are involved in small house church fellowships and serve in various ministry roles. During a 10-day outreach mission, the class distributed printed tracts and shared the Gospel with 1,500 people.
Unprecedented Growth of the Church
Amar’s situation is similar to that of other Christian converts in Nepal’s rural mountain villages. Inspired by the desire to fulfill the Great Commission, believers are eager to plant churches and take on leadership roles. But their knowledge of the Scriptures and Christian doctrine is limited, and they lack the resources to receive formal training.
Like the families they serve, rural pastors and evangelists are typically very poor and lack access to transportation. They are accustomed to walking for hours through difficult terrain to reach remote settlements.
In order for these students to take part in the training program, our partner covers the cost for their tuition and meals and offers accommodations at an on-site dormitory. Samaritan’s Purse has assisted the ministry since 2009, providing funds for course materials, teacher allowances, and basic operating expenses.
The success of the program prompted our partner to branch out with regional seminars in other parts of the nation. With the increased demand for discipleship training in churches, the ministry now offers a variety of short-term sessions for women’s groups, couples, and youth.
Christianity as a legally permitted religion is relatively new to Nepal, as the country was the world’s only Hindu kingdom until 1990. In fact, there were few Christians known to live in Nepal before 1950. Today approximately 3 percent of the population—some 850,000 people—is considered Christian.
Democracy ushered in some measure of religious freedom and gave rise to the Christian church, but Hinduism still dominates every aspect of the culture. Those who decide to follow Christ are subject to social discrimination and put their lives at risk to share the Gospel.Despite the challenges, nothing will stop believers like Amar and his sister from boldly proclaiming their faith. Now all of their family has come to faith in the Savior, and Amar’s sister is active in a church in the capital city.
After completing the three-month leadership course, Amar returned to his village in western Nepal to serve as a pastor. More than 20 people come regularly for worship services that are held every Saturday. Amar also sent a few young adults to the training center, and they are now assisting him in his ministry.
“I am praying for an opportunity to start another church in a village that is a three-hour walk from here,” Amar said. “I want young people from that village to receive leadership training too.”