Nepal Podcast

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Twitter

Harvest Bridge Podcast Episode 4: Nepal with Shalva* and Jandi*

May 2024

Below you will find the transcript for the fourth episode of our podcast! You can listen to the recording on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or watch it on Youtube below. 

What is happening is people, you know, these political leaders, they are interpreting according to their favor. So they’re interpreting according to their favor and they’re dividing the people. And some parties, they are in, in such a, you know, activities that divide and rule. You know how you divide? If you raise a religious matter, and that is the first point, you can divide the people.” – Shalva*

“We go to villages and we have the counseling and it really made a great impact in the life of the women and the village. So it impacts a whole family. So, we are like, we are doing health ministry. As well as, like, the spiritual ministry.” – Jandi*

Welcome to the Harvest Bridge podcast. A part of our work here at Harvest Bridge is connecting local leaders in South Asia with people like you, here in the United States. Through our podcast we want to provide a place where you can hear their voices and listen to their stories in their own words. There is a transcription available for those who prefer to read these stories.

In this episode, we will hear a conversation between Kate, the Executive Director of Harvest Bridge, and two ministry leaders in Nepal. This conversation happened during interviews for our annual impact report. To read the whole report, visit our website at www.harvestbridge.org. 

Nepal borders Tibet, so some of the ministry of Harvest Bridge happens in this border region. Nepal is a fascinating country that has maintained its own identity despite the influence of its powerful neighbors, India and China. The ministry in Nepal from the leaders we support is comprehensive, as they train pastors, respond to natural disasters, host women’s health clinics, and develop economic programs. Today we will hear from Shalva and Jandi, the country leaders, who are married. 

Kate: Oh, it’s nice to see just the two of you on a call….I like getting you to myself. 

Shalva: We are together for every call! 

Kate: Yes!

(Laughter)

Kate: . . . and I’m still drinking. I’m still drinking out of a Happy Holidays cup because this is my best cup so I don’t care what season  it is . . . I’ll say it’s for Valentine’s Day.

Shalva: So, are you planning any Valentine’s this time?

Kate: Nope. (laughter) Are you doing anything for Valentine’s?

Shalva: No, I think Jandi and me will be at home.

Before we get into the deeper conversation of Kate and Shalva and Jandi, we wanted to share this initial exchange. Kate has a personal relationship with all of the country leaders, and these two are no exception. They aren’t just partners in ministry, they are friends.  

A few minutes later into the call, Kate asked about the political situation in Nepal. Shalva shared about the challenge of the interweaving of politics and religion in their government.

Shalva: Then what they do sometimes, you know, they simply raise the religious issue, sometimes to get, you know, a paper from the Hindus or some other people, those who are very neutral in politics, just to make them aggressive. There is the, is a religious issue. Then, you know, some people will come with, Hindu ideology, you know, Hinduism, we should make Nepal as a Hindu nation, you know, some kind of this ideology and some people, those who are in favor of Hinduism, they will support the government. So, this kind of play is going on.

The government in Nepal has realized that they can keep the people divided by playing into the religious divisions in the country. These religious factions can then become powerful pawns in political power.  

Shalva: Even though we have a very – they say that our Constitution is the best constitution in the whole world. And this is the youngest one also. Because very late we made the constitution. So they claim, but it’s not seen in the lives of the people, you know? It should change the lives of the people. So, what is happening is people, you know, these political leaders, they are interpreting according to their favor. So they’re interpreting according to their favor and they’re dividing the people. And some parties, they are in, in such a, you know, activities that divide and rule. You know how you divide? If you raise a religious matter, and that is the first point, you can divide the people. 

The constitution in Nepal promises religious freedom. It specifically provides the right of all citizens to profess and practice their own religion. It also prohibits converting people from one religion to another, or practicing religion in such a way that it “disturbs public order or public health, decency and morality.” While on paper this would seem to protect all religious practice, in practicality it has meant that government officials can determine who violates these prohibitions and who does not. Whether something disturbs public order or health, or even more vague, decency and morality, it’s subjective at best. This makes the entanglement of religion and politics even more complicated. 

Shalva: So, some people, some parties, they are in favor of Christians, because Christianity is growing. Christianity is growing and in some places without Christians vote, people cannot, you know, win the votes, in this post, in the election. So, Christians are becoming important, but government is trying to ignore the Christian and suppress the Christian. You know, suppress Christian activities. Now, you know, Kathmandu metropolitan city – if you are renting a place for the church, this is what Kathmandu metropolitan city mayor has one policy: so you need to give all the details. “So what is the authority for you to open this church?” So you know, you have to show everything, and we cannot show everything, you know? We do not have any authority to open the church. And we open the church as the Lord guided us. So this kind of issue they are raising, and they are making, you know, even threatening the church, you know? Those who do not have the church building, now they are feeling so suppressed. I was talking some few weeks ago, I was talking to some of the pastors and they were threatened this way; “So you are renting this place for the church and who gave you authority to open the church? Do you have any document? Can you show me the document? Are you registered anywhere? Who is giving you fund?” You know, those details they’re inquiring and in some places they are forced to close the church if they don’t have the land and building. So this, this is another threat going on. So they are simply raising the religious matters, and then dividing the people. And some political party or parties are also favor, but most of the parties are against the Christians.

Shalva shares here how this looks on the ground for ministry in Nepal. While some political leaders are courting the Christians to gain power, most prefer to ignore them. Even though the constitution should protect Christian worship, government leaders are making ministry difficult through things like challenging the documentation for church buildings. 

Shalva: So this kind of indirect threat. Even though we are given freedom by the, our constitution that we can easily practice the religious, the religion that we follow. But it’s not allowed. Sometimes. They have been questioning us. 

And some political leaders take things one step further, by turning the people against one another along religious lines.

Shalva: Actually, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, all are living in harmony. But, you know, some people, some political parties, they are just trying to play with the religious groups. Some Hindu radicals, they are coming, and you know, throwing stones to the Christians’ churches, houses. You know, if you do, or worship loudly in your house, then they will, you know, question and they will ask the police and they will report. You know, that’s a kind of threat, you know, we have seen. Not only in the villages, in the cities also, this has started so slowly. 

Shalva is clear that the religious divisions aren’t coming from the people. It’s coming from the government who has a vested interest in this suppression. Shalva then talked again about the subjectivity in interpreting the constitution and prohibitions.

Shalva: You know, it’s a difficult, it’s a… But some churches in the cities, they are not allowed to, you know, worship loudly. They have to… now some churches they close the window and started having AC inside, AC and electricity. They close all the windows. One of my pastor friend, he had a church building and he closed all the windows and fixed four AC and lighting system and now no sound will go outside. Soundproof. You know, earlier little bit sound also no problem. This, you know, we are also in pressure. So, some of our neighboring people: “you are making sound.” But, nobody’s so far threatened us. You know, our church was in little village and people broke that one. These radicals. We actually, we are living in injustice, and we did not get justice until now. So, this is the, this is the situation in the country.

It is a difficult time to do ministry in Nepal. But God finds a way, and leaders like Shalva and Jandi are finding ways to reach people in powerful ways, despite these obstacles. Jandi shared later in the call about the way she has seen God at work through the medical health camps. 

Jandi: Yes, many women got training; Christian women leaders and also like non Christians, we had counseling during this health camp project. We go to villages and we have the counseling and it really made a great impact in the life of the women and the village. So it impacts a whole family. 

In 2023, 620 women and 400 children received medical care and counseling. 20 women with critical health issues received uterine surgery. As amazing as this ministry is, it’s not only about the physical health of their communities. 

Jandi: So, we are like, we are doing health ministry. As well as, like, the spiritual ministry. We are training the women leaders so that it really strengthen the church. Because the women are doing evangelism more than men and number of the women are so many in the all churches in Nepal. So, women are… so we are strengthening the women so that they can strengthen their family in Christ. And they can share gospel to the people and they can make change. So while we do the health camps we do the counseling so that they can take care of their health. They can take care of their family, children, and also we can share the gospel at that time. 

As the leaders provide healthcare to the women, these women become spiritual leaders in their families and in the church. Investing in the physical and spiritual health of one woman has a ripple effect to her family and her network. The women who come to the health camps see Jesus in the love and care they receive, and it’s changing their lives.

Jandi: So, we… last time some of the villager women were asking us, “How are you helping us  with this health camp?” We could tell them like, “It is because it is the love of Jesus and the women from the different parts of the world, they raised some money for you, for your health. So we are coming to show God’s love to you, Jesus’ love to you.” And it’s also another way of sharing gospel. Directly we do not share Jesus, but through our deeds, we are sharing Jesus in the villages. And at that time, very proudly, we say like, ”We are Christian women doing this thing.” And it’s really…this time I feel like very comfortable to share, like, we are Christians doing these kind of things as the love of God. We can openly claim it in front of the community leaders, whoever is present there. In front of them we, because every time when we start we have some kind of like opening thing. At that time, every time I say we are Christian women. 

Jandi knows they cannot try to actively convert people to Christianity. But what she does instead is to offer the love of God through needed health care and support. As she says “through our deeds, we are sharing Jesus in the villages.” When people ask her why they are offering the camp, she can share that it is because she is a Christian woman, doing these things as the love of God. Jandi concluded by sharing what she says at each health camp: 

Jandi: “So we love people. We love you all. That’s why we are coming all the way from different parts of the country to help you, to show God’s love. It’s only because of Jesus.” So, it’s really a great time of sharing testimony through our work as well, not only through the Word of God, but also through the work. 

Sharing the love of Jesus not only through the Word of God, but also through the work. This is the ministry happening in Nepal. 

Thank you for listening to the Harvest Bridge podcast. Follow us on social media, or subscribe to our email list to learn more about the ministry of leaders throughout South Asia who are doing much, with little.

 

SIMILAR STORIES

GATE Flood Podcast

Click here to listen on Spotify Harvest Bridge Podcast Episode 3: GATE Flood with Priya* March 2024 Below you will find the transcript for the

Read More »

Cold Weather Relief

Click here to listen on Spotify Harvest Bridge Podcast Episode 2: Cold Weather Relief February 2024 Below you will find the transcript for the second

Read More »

GET INVOLVED