Two years ago, just after Easter, I had the privilege of visiting Nepal. It was an absolutely wonderful trip. This Easter, a group of 15 people from First Portadown Presbyterian Church, are spending Easter in Nepal. They are under the direction and guidance of the energetic Rosie, whose knowledge of Nepal can only be described as encyclopaedic. Rosie spent almost 8 years in Nepal working as a speech therapist and she has inspired many people to develop an interest in the development of that country.
During our time in Pokhara, we were able to visit the church where Rosie worshipped, and that is where our friends will be this weekend. At that service, they were receiving 15 new members. Among the group received as members was a man and his two wives! Prior to his conversion, this man had taken a younger wife because his first wife was childless. But all three of them had been converted to Christ, and the leadership of the church welcomed them together as a family into their membership. I remember thinking: How long would it take an Irish Presbyterian Session to work their way through that kind of pastoral situation?
The growth of Christianity in Nepal in recent years has been amazing. Over 30 years ago I heard Pastor Robert Karthak speak at the Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention, and at that time he was, I think, the only Christian minister in Kathmandu. Today it is estimated that out of a total population of 29 million there are in excess of 800,000 Christians in Nepal.
It is a most beautiful country, tucked away between India and China, with spectacular views of the Himalayas. It is also incredibly poor. In recent weeks there has been little rain and that has obvious and serious implications for the crops. There are also many problems caused by electricity only being available for 8 hours a day. And yet in these difficult and trying circumstances the kingdom of God advances.
This Easter Day we will use the words of a well-known hymn:
“Let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing, For her Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.”
The Church that sings these hymns of triumph is a multi-ethnic people scattered across the globe from Portadown to Pokhara. Thank you, Rosie, for enlarging our vision.