After 2 1/2 years of a pandemic, with all communication with our leaders in Asia being through messaging and video calls, I’ve been able to take two trips to visit our leaders since March. One to Chennai, India in April, and the other to multiple parts of Nepal and Bangladesh in June. Honestly, it was a bit surreal. These trips were full of reunions with leaders who I’ve been through so much over the last two years, as we all responded to Covid and worked together to face new sorrows, challenges, and opportunities. So, it was a special kind of joy and comfort to be able to just sit and talk over a cup of tea with our leaders. To laugh about shared experiences. To hold babies in church. To complain about the heat or rain together. To pray with arms around each other.
I realized I had most missed simply living life with our leaders – staying in their homes and jumping into and observing their daily lives. I spent the majority of this most recent trip with Pastor Shalva* and Jandi*, our country leaders in Nepal. Among other things, it affirmed why Harvest Bridge is able to do so much with little.
Pastor Shalva’s focus is on church planting, raising up church planters, and discipling and guiding them. He updates us on the ministries and needs of 55 pastors and missionaries throughout Nepal and Tibet, and spearheads our projects there. Jandi was recently elected as chairwoman of a national Christian women’s organization. Over the last decade, she has been trained in leading church-based savings groups. This has been very successful, and under her leadership, we are partnering with another international organization to expand savings groups to several dozen new churches over the next few years. As a couple, they lead the church they planted. They care for Shalva’s mother, who lives with them. Prior to her moving in with them recently, for about 15 years Jandi and Shalva took care of a total of more than 50 elderly women – usually abandoned widows who had no one else to care for them. They would advocate for the women’s legal rights and feed, bathe, and cloth them. When they passed away, Jandi and Shava planned their funerals, giving them dignity in their final days. These two are also wonderful and involved parents to four young adult children, three of whom still live at home. Honestly, I’m only scratching the surface with that summary.
Despite her needing to be up at 4am most days, on the majority of nights Jandi and I were up sometimes till midnight talking. We laughed at Pastor Shalva’s terrible dad jokes. We talked in depth about women’s rights, the caste system and racism, and economic challenges in Nepal. She processed some of the heartache of last year when she and Shalva were attending or leading several funerals a week during the height of Covid. She confided some of the fears she has as a parent. She shared passionately about ways she thinks the church in Nepal can grow in living out their faith in tangible ways. We poured through scripture together to pull a sermon together when she remembered she had to preach the next morning.
More than anything, we talked about what she’s learning from others in this season. In her new role as chairwoman of the Christian women’s organization and in growing savings groups, she has been traveling all over Nepal to speak at events and encourage others. She has been using these times to ask questions. To sit with women in their homes and hear their individual stories and learn from their perspective on how best to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in their communities. I think that says so much. She and Shalva have over 50 years of ministry between the two of them – it would be so easy to become complacent. But they always choose to grow.
When I talk with Jandi and when I watch her live her everyday life, I see a life lived on purpose. Jandi is one of the most dynamic listeners and learners I know. People feel loved and respected in her presence, regardless of their circumstances. She chooses every day to love God and to love others. I joke that I can rarely get an un-blurred photo of her because she’s nearly always moving. But it’s because of that, not in spite of it, that she creates margin to be able to drop whatever she is doing to meet the immediate needs of someone who is suffering. She’s ready to enter into people’s hardships, or pray over a sick church member, or advocate for someone’s legal rights.
Harvest Bridge has grown wider and deeper under the leadership of men and women like Shalva and Jandi. They are leaders who work diligently with whatever God has given them. They’re smart and wise. They’re teachable. They can look at the big picture of ministry while loving the individual well.
Giving Where Needed Most, or to our current Summer Giving Match, gives us the best ability to come alongside each of their unique ministries. Thank you for making it possible for us to support so many local ministries throughout South Asia.
2022 Summer Match
We have raised $22,260 so far, and we need your help to raise $17,740 more before 14 August. Click on the link below to give towards our summer match. A huge thank you to all who have donated so far.