Monday, January 4, 2010
To fulfill the great commission by establishing the Body of Christ through growth in the Love of God, in Faith and in Holiness
To Glorify God by developing spiritually mature & committed leaders, who will work together and create the feelings of ownership and also will be devoted in prayer, in the work of evangelism, in establishment of churches through discipleship.
Manoj Shrestha, Class of 2001 and current Ph.D. candidate, principal of Nepal Ebenezer Bible College
by Roger Shapiro
It’s hard to be a Christian in a country where Christianity was illegal until 1990. The threats of persecution, imprisonment, and the loss of jobs and homes are even more real when your father is one of those leading people to Christ.
“My father was arrested and imprisoned because of his faith. It was a big chance he took, being a civil servant and a Christian in Nepal,” said Manoj Shrestha (Th.M., 2001; current Ph.D. candidate), who was in seventh grade when his father converted.
Manoj followed his father into Christianity—a particularly difficult decision for a boy in a country where eighty-two percent of the people are Hindu. Reluctant at first, he became a true believer in high school, then a minister, and then a teacher of ministers. Eventually, he became principal of Nepal Ebenezer Bible College, one of the main seminaries in Nepal, a country the size of New York, situated between India and China. Today, he is on study leave to complete his Ph.D. at Princeton Seminary.
“I came to Princeton because God gave me the desire to do ministry work. I need to know about systematic preaching. I need to learn how to help Nepalese pastors so they can serve churches better,” he said.
That need will influence pastors beyond Nepal, according to John Stewart, PTS’s Ralph B. and Helen S. Ashenfelter Associate Professor of Ministry and Evangelism Emeritus, and one of Shrestha’s former professors and now friends. “Having him on campus is a unique opportunity for Princeton Seminary because we have the chance to train a person who will become a worldwide leader. He will help shape the next half century as to how Christian missions take place in Asia,” said Stewart.
On a per-capita basis, Nepal represents Asia’s fastest-growing Christian community. To serve those Christians, Manoj’s college graduates about seventeen students a year. “His strategy is to train hundreds of pastors. They, in turn, will go out to change the world based on how Manoj trains them,” said Stewart.
To educate future ministers—and give current ministers ongoing training—Manoj will expand his school by adding a masters program. Opened in 1992 and the first seminary in Nepal to be accredited by the Asia Theological Association, the school currently offers a three-year Bachelor of Theology degree. Watch a video tour of the school.
“There is a lot I can bring back from Princeton to help ministers elevate their skills. We’ll also have to add faculty. To provide a masters level of study, we need one or two Ph.D. professors and three or four Th.M.-level teachers,” Manoj said.
He also invites visiting professors; Stewart taught there for five weeks in 2007. Cleo LaRue, the Seminary’s Francis Landey Patton Professor of Homiletics, will be a guest lecturer in 2011 when he takes PTS students to study in neighboring India.
Now that Christianity is legal—two percent of the twenty-nine million people are Christian—it’s more important than ever to educate pastors.
“Most pastors don’t have any theological degree,” said Manoj. “In many villages, the only skills you need to be a pastor are to be able to write and to read the Bible. I will bring back programs that will help pastors elevate their skills without enrolling in a seminary. I can start a program for continuous learning similar to PTS’s School of Christian Vocation and Mission.”
Education of any sort is hard to get in Nepal. “The topography alone is a challenge. With seventy percent of the land on mountains and hills—eight of the world’s ten largest mountains are in Nepal—it’s just plain difficult to build schools,” he said. Beyond that, until the 1950s, only the most privileged people were allowed to learn.
By the 1990s, the country was building schools and Manoj graduated from high school in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. From there, he earned his M.Div. in 1996 at the Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission in South Korea; he also gained experience in South Korea, preaching every week to Nepalese attending churches in Seoul. With that education, he returned to Nepal to teach at the Bible college until 2001 when he first came to PTS to earn his Th.M. He then returned to Nepal for seven years before coming back to Princeton.
Stewart said, “Manoj is looking for organizational models as well as academic knowledge. He wants to find everything that works because not only is he training people in a formal school, but he’s also supporting them as they go out on their own as pastors.”
Manoj also manages financial challenges. He runs his entire college on a $30,000 U.S. budget. Teachers earn between $150 and $200 per month and the average book costs $30. “I have never seen such extraordinary work going on with such meager resources,” said Stewart. “The library I have is twice the size of what they have in the school. It’s a very limited, and limiting, library.”
This modest collection reflects one reason seminaries and scholars around the world are interested in Princeton’s new library. “I’m really excited about the campaign to make our library available digitally. That will be an enormous advantage and opportunity to people in places like Nepal,” said Stewart.
With that digital library, students in Nepal will have access to many of the Seminary’s vast resources. Manoj said, “The goal of Princeton’s new library is to make a library for the world. If we can get access to the books online, that would be a big help. One of the biggest challenges schools face in Nepal is getting books. There’s no way we can buy everything we need.”
With or without the PTS library access, Nepal Ebenezer Bible College graduates new pastors every year. As they move on to churches across the country, they are building the future of Christianity in Nepal. And Manoj is committed to helping the formation of their vocations as he imports the Seminary’s knowledge and operating models.
A Capsule View of Christianity in Nepal
• Population: 29.3 million people
o 82% are Hindu
o 7% are Buddhist
o 7% are Muslims
o 2% are Christians
o 2% follow another religion or no religion
• 1769: The king thought Christian missionaries would lead to a British takeover of his country, so he closed the nation and expelled all missionaries and 58 Nepali Christians, who settled in Bettiah, India.
• Until 1950: Nepal was a closed country. No foreigners were allowed in. There was no Christian presence. There was no provision for education unless you were from a privileged family living in the capital.
• 1951: The king re-opened the country to foreigners who were development workers to start schools, hospitals and other infrastructure requirements. Religious conversion was illegal and missionaries were not allowed into the country.
• 1951–1990: It was illegal for a Nepali citizen to be Christian. Hinduism was the official religion.
• 1990: The country became a multi-party democracy and the king became a figurehead. Christians were given some freedom to practice, but Nepal was still a Hindu kingdom. It was illegal to convert to another religion.• 2008: The kingship was abolished and what was the only Hindu kingdom in the world became a secular state. A new constitution is being written, which will determine Christianity’s new status within the country; however, that constitution is not yet complete as of 2010.
Sunday worship is held on Saturday since Sundays are working days in Nepal.
Youth Fellowship on Saturday 1pm
Sunday School for Children on Saturday 11am
Women's Fellowship on Thursday at 11 am
Women's Fasting Prayer on Sunday 9 am
Morning Prayer at 6 am Sunday to Firday
Rotating House Fellowship 6pm Sunday to Friday
Women's Fasting Prayers and Fellowship
Sunday School for children 11am
YOuth fellowship after the morning fellowship 1pm
Regular Fellowship 8:30 am and 10 :30 am
Women's Fellowship 11 am
Morning Prayer 6am
Sunday to Friday
Rotating House Fellowship in the evenings
Social & Charity Work
Old age Home in Planning phase
Water baptism for those who have personal conviction.
Before 1951, Nepal was a closed country, a forbidden land; foreigners and Christians were not allowed to enter the country. Except for a short period of time, from 1715 to 1769 when some Capuchin missionaries were present in the capital. Before 1990, it was against the law of land for Nepali citizen to become a Christian.
Nepal was the only Hindu/Buddhist (Buddha’s birth place is in Nepal) Kingdom in the world until it was declared a secular state recently on 18th May 2006. The government of Nepal has not officially recognized Christianity and churches are not allowed as a registered organization even now. In spite of this, the Church in Nepal has a different story. Within the fifty to sixty years, Nepali Churches have become one of the fastest growing churches in the World.
The 37-year-old chief of the Nepal Defense Army (NDA), was arrested on Sept. 5 for exploding a bomb in the Church, in the Lalitpur area of Kathmandu on May 23. The explosion killed a teenager and a newly-married woman from India’s Bihar state and injured more than a dozen others.
In Kathmandu’s jail in the Nakkhu area, Mainali said that he regretted bombing the church.
“I bombed the church so that I could help re-establish Nepal as a Hindu nation,” he said. “There are Catholic nations, there are Protestant nations and there are also Islamic nations, but there is no Hindu nation. But I was wrong. Creating a religious war cannot solve anything, it will only harm people.”
Mainali, who is married and has two small daughters, added that he wanted members of all religions to be friendly with one other.
Asked how the change in him came about, he said he had been attending a prison fellowship since he was transferred to Nakkhu Jail from Central Jail four months ago.
“I have been reading the Bible also, to know what it says,” he said.
Of the 450 prisoners in the Nakkhu Jail, around 150 attend the Nakkhu Gospel Church inside the prison premises.
Mainali said he began reading the Bible after experiencing the graciousness of prison Christians.
“Although I bombed the church, Christians come to meet me everyday,” he said. “No rightwing Hindu has come to meet me even once.”
He had been attending the church, praying and reading the Bible regularly and had also sent a handwritten letter to a monthly Christian newsmagazine in Nepal, saying he had repented of his deeds in the prison.
He said the NDA still exists but is not active. It was formed in New Delhi in 2007 at a meeting attended by a large number of Hindu nationalists from India, he said. Since bombing the church in Kathmandu, the group has threatened to drive all Christians from the country.
“The NDA was started in February or March 2007 at the Birla Mandir [a Hindu temple in central Delhi] at a meeting which was attended by many leaders from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad [World Hindu Council], the Bajrang Dal, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Shiv Sena party,” he said. Mainali declined to name the leaders of these Hindu extremist groups present at the meeting.
The NDA is also believed to be responsible for the killing of a Catholic priest, Father John Prakash Moyalan, principal of the Don Bosco educational institution in Dharan city in eastern Nepal, in June 2008.
Nepal was a Hindu monarchy until 1990, after which the king was forced to introduce political reforms mainly by Maoists (extreme Marxists). In 2006, Nepal adopted an interim constitution making it a secular nation, which infuriated Hindu nationalists in Nepal and India. In 2008 Nepal became a federal democratic republic.
Mainali said the NDA was receiving support from the organizations. He declined to divulge how the Hindu extremist groups in India funded the NDA. Mainali also said that the NDA bought arms from an Indian separatist militia in the northeastern state of Assam, the United Liberation Front of Asom or ULFA. Although most of the ULFA members are nominally Christian, he said, “they sold arms to us as a purely business deal.”
The ULFA is a banned organization in India and classified as a terrorist outfit since 1990. The U.S. Department of State has listed it under the “Other Groups of Concern” category.
Of the roughly 30 million people in Nepal, a meager 0.5 percent are Christian, and over 80 percent are Hindu, according to the 2001 census.
New Threats for Nepali Christians
Fri, Sep. 17, 2010 Posted: 12:59 PM EDT
A year after police busted an underground militant Hindu organization that had bombed a church and two mosques, Nepal’s Christians are facing new threats.
An underground group that speaks with bombs and has coerced hundreds of government officials into quitting their jobs is threatening Christian clergy with violence if they do not give in to extortion demands, a Christian leader said.
The Nepal Christian Society (NCS), an umbrella group of denominations, churches and organizations, met in the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday to discuss dangers amid reports of pastors receiving phone calls and letters from the Unified National Liberation Front (Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha), an armed group demanding money and making threats. The group has threatened Christian leaders in eastern and western Nepal, as well as in the Kathmandu Valley.
“The pastors who received the extortion calls do not want to go public for fear of retaliation,” said Lok Mani Dhakal, general secretary of the NCS. “We decided to wait and watch a little longer before approaching police.”
The Front is among nearly three dozen armed groups that mushroomed after the fall of the military-backed government of the former king of Nepal, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, in 2006.
It became a household name in July after 34 senior government officials – designated secretaries of village development committees – resigned en masse, pleading lack of security following threats by the Front.
Ironically, the resignations occurred in Rolpa, a district in western Nepal regarded as the cradle of the communist uprising in 1996 that led to Nepal becoming a secular federal republic after 10 years of civil war.
Nearly 1,500 government officials from 27 districts have resigned after receiving threats from the Front. Despite its apparent clout, it remains a shadowy body with little public knowledge about its leaders and objectives. Though initially active in southern Nepal, the group struck in the capital city of Kathmandu on Saturday, Sept. 11, bombing a carpet factory.
The emergence of the new underground threat comes a year after police arrested Ram Prasad Mainali, whose Nepal Defense Army had planted a bomb in a church in Kathmandu, killing three women during a Roman Catholic mass.
Christians’ relief at Mainali’s arrest was short-lived. Besides facing threats from a new group, the community has endured longstanding animosity from the years when Nepal was a Hindu state; the anti-Christian sentiment refuses to die four years after Parliament declared the nation secular.
When conversions were a punishable offense in Nepal 13 years ago, Ishwor Pudasaini had to leave his home in Giling village, Nuwakot district, because he became a Christian. Pudasaini, now a pastor in a Protestant church, said he still cannot return to his village because of persecution that has increased with time.
“We are mentally tortured,” the 32-year-old pastor told Compass. “My mother is old and refuses to leave the village, so I have to visit her from time to time to see if she is all right. Also, we have some arable land, and during monsoon season it is imperative that I farm it. But I go in dread.”
Pudasaini, who pastors Assembly of God Church, said that when he runs into his neighbors, they revile him and make threatening gestures. His family is not allowed to enter any public place, and he is afraid to spend nights in his old home for fear of being attacked. A new attack occurred in a recent monsoon, when villagers disconnected the family’s water pipes.
“Things reached such a head this time that I was forced to go to the media and make my plight public,” he says.
Pudasaini, his wife Laxmi and their two children have been living in the district headquarters, Bidur town. His brother Ram Prasad, 29, was thrown out of a local village’s reforms committee for becoming a Christian. Another relative in the same village, Bharat Pudasaini, lost his job and was forced to migrate to a different district.
“Bharat Pudasaini was a worker at Mulpani Primary School,” says Pudasaini. “The school sacked him for embracing Christianity, and the villagers forced his family to leave the village.
Even four years after Nepal became officially secular, he is not allowed to return to his village and sell his house and land, which he wants to, desperately. He has four children to look after, and the displacement is virtually driving the family to starvation.”
Since Bidur, where the administrative machinery is concentrated, is safe from attacks, Pudasani said it is becoming a center for displaced Christians.
“There are dozens of persecuted Christians seeking shelter here,” he said.
One such displaced person was Kamla Kunwar, a woman in her 30s whose faith prompted her husband to severely beat her and throw her out of their home in Dhading district in central Nepal. She would eventually move in with relatives in Nuwakot.
Pudasaini said he chose not to complain of his mistreatment, either to the district administration or to police, because he does not want to encourage enmity in the village.
“My religion teaches me to turn the other cheek and love my enemies,” he said. “I would like to make the village come to Christ. For that I have to be patient.”
Dozens of villages scattered throughout Nepal remain inimical to Christians. In May, five Christians, including two women, were brutally attacked in Chanauta, a remote village in Kapilavastu district where the majority are ethnic Tharus.
Once an affluent people, the Tharus were displaced by migrating hordes from the hills of Nepal, as well as from India across the border, and forced into slavery. Today, they are considered to be “untouchables” despite an official ban on that customary practice of abuse and discrimination. In the villages, Tharus are not allowed to enter temples or draw water from the sources used by other villagers.
Tharus, like other disadvantaged communities, have been turning to Christianity. Recently five Tharu Christians, including a pastor and two evangelists, were asked to help construct a Hindu temple. Though they did, the five refused to eat the meat of a goat that villagers sacrificed before idols at the new temple.
Because of their refusal, the temple crowd beat them. Two women – Prema Chaudhary, 34, and Mahima Chaudhary, 22 – were as badly thrashed as Pastor Simon Chaudhari, 30, and two evangelists, Samuel Chaudhari, 19, and Prem Chaudhari, 22.
In June, a mob attacked Sher Bahadur Pun, a 68-year-old Nepali who had served with the Indian Army, and his son, Akka Bahadur, at their church service in Myagdi district in western Nepal. Pun suffered two fractured ribs.
The attack occurred after the Hindu-majority village decided to build a temple. All villagers were ordered to donate 7,000 rupees (US$93), a princely sum in Nepal’s villages, and the Christians were not spared. While the Puns paid up, they refused to worship in the temple. Retaliation was swift.
The vulnerability of Christians has escalated following an administrative vacuum that has seen violence and crime soar. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who had been instrumental in the church bombers’ arrest, resigned in June due to pressure by the opposition Maoist party. Since then, though there have been seven rounds of elections in Parliament to choose a new premier, none of the two contenders has been able to win the minimum votes required thanks to bitter infighting between the major parties.
An eighth round of elections is scheduled for Sept. 26, and if that too fails, Nepal will have lost four of the 12 months given to the 601-member Parliament to write a new constitution.
“It is shameful,” said Believers Church Bishop Narayan Sharma. “It shows that Nepal is on the way to becoming a failed state. There is acute pessimism that the warring parties will not be able to draft a new constitution [that would consolidate secularism] by May 2011.”
Sharma said there is also concern about a reshuffle in the largest ruling party, the Nepali Congress (NC), set to elect new officers at its general convention starting Friday (Sept. 17). Some former NC ministers and members of Parliament have been lobbying for the restoration of a Hindu state in Nepal; their election would be a setback for secularism.
“We have been holding prayers for the country,” Sharma said. “It is a grim scene today. There is an economic crisis, and Nepal’s youths are fleeing abroad. Women job-seekers abroad are increasingly being molested and tortured. Even the Maoists, who fought for secularism, are now considering creating a cultural king. We are praying that the political deadlock will be resolved, and that peace and stability return to Nepal.”
Bhaktapur (Nepali: भक्तपुर Bhaktapur ), also Bhadgaon or Khwopa (Nepal Bhasa: ख्वप Khwopa) is an ancient Newar town in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. It is located in Bhaktapur District in the Bagmati Zone. It is the third largest city in Kathmandu valley and was once the capital of Nepal during the great Malla Kingdom until the second half of the 15th century.
Bhaktapur is listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.Contents [hide]
The term "Bhaktapur" (Sanskrit/Nepali: भक्तपुर) refers to "The Town Of Devotees". This Bhaktapur City is also known as "Khwopa" (Nepal Bhasa: ख्वप) or "Bhadgaon" (Nepali:भादगाँउ) or "Ancient Newari Town" through out the Kathmandu valley.
It is the home of traditional art and architecture, historical monuments and craft works, magnificent windows, pottery and weaving industries, excellent temples, beautiful ponds, rich local customs, culture, religion, festivals, musical mystic and so on. Bhaktapur is still an untouched as well as preserved ancient city, which in fact, is itself a world to explore for tourist.
From time immemorial it lay on the trade route between Tibet/China and India. This position on the main caravan route made the town rich and prosperous: eachy Mayhew, Lindsay Brown, Wanda Vivequin, Hugh Finlay">Nepal By Bradley Mayhew, Lindsay Brown, Wanda Vivequin, Hugh Finlay
Bhaktapur is around 13 km east of Kathmandu and lies on the old trade route to Tibet. It occupies an area of around 119 km² at an altitude of 1,401 meters above sea-level. Bhaktapur district, in which the Bhaktapur city lies, is the smallest district of Nepal.
At the time of the 2001 Nepal census it had a population of 172.543. The male inhabitants of this city wear a special type of cap called the Bhaad-gaaule topi.
Bhaktapur is a popular day-trip destination for tourists. In addition, although the Mount Everest (i.e. Sagarmatha) is breathtaking and the landscape of Buddha mysterious, tourists visiting Nepal still don't feel their sojourn complete unless they have experienced Bhaktapur, Nepal's ancient "City of Culture".
Pottery is one of the main tourist attractions in Bhaktapur besides the architecture. In Nepal the city is reknown for its yoghurt or curd Ju-Ju Dhau (famous King's Curd), traditionally sold in clay bowls.
(THE MAIN ATTRACTION OF BHAKTAPUR)
Taumadhi Square, and
Changu Narayan (World Heritage Site),
Chonga Ganesh etc.
Hindu Miracolus Vision:
Largest Shiva lingum,
Golden Spout and Gate,
Magnificent peacock windows,
Around 40 prestigious temples
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Koinonia Bhaktapur Church
POBox: 31, Bhaktapur
Mr. Sagar Raya
Mr. Ramesh Sunuwar
Mr. Srihari Pokharel
Mr. Purna Balla
Full Time Staff
Mr. Keshab Karmacharya
Senior Pastor for Koinonia Churches of Nepal
Dr. Mangal Man Maharjan, Patan Church