This relief update comes from The Rev. Lewis Lew, Dean of Nepal:
Bishop Rennis’ Pastoral Visit to Nepal (1-5 June, 2015)
Bishop Rennis Ponniah made a special pastoral visit to Nepal from the 1 to 5 June to ordain three local Nepalese pastors and to encourage the Anglican churches in Nepal. Bishop Rennis was accompanied by Bishop Kuan, Rev. Michael Teh, Rev. Steven Asirvatham and Rev. Lawrence Visuvasam. His pastoral visit came at a time when the country is recovering from two major earthquakes within a short span of three weeks that killed more than 8,700 people, destroyed more than 500,000 homes, and with 8 million people displaced.
Celebration in the Midst of Grief
The ordination service was held in Nazarene Church, Kathmandu on 3rd June, 5 p.m. local time. More than 50 pastors, family members, and church leaders attended this historic ordination service, which marks a very important milestone for the Deanery of Nepal and the Country of Nepal. For the first time in history, local Nepali pastors were ordained to the Diaconate in their homeland itself. We congratulate Rev. Prem Bahadur Tamang of Living Hope Church, Rev. Bikash Shrestha of Nazarene Church and Rev. Chitra Kumar Rai of Golgotha Church.
Despite the devastation and grief the Nepali people have recently gone through, the service was nonetheless filled with genuine celebration and a spirit of gratitude to God. This reflects the grace and grit of our Nepali brethren to overcome adversity and keep faith with God.
The move of the Spirit was also evident as Bishop Rennis preached the Word from John 21. Many in the congregation were ministered to. Our Nepali travel coordinator, Mr. Deepak, was so touched that he prayed to receive Christ. It rarely happens that people receive Christ at an ordination service, but with God nothing is impossible. Let us pray for the continuous salvation of souls and that this will be just the first of many more ordination services in Nepal. Let revival come in this country!
Hope in the Midst of Grief
During our short stay in Nepal, we became aware of investors, especially those in the tourism industry, who are ready to withdraw their investments to curb their loses. What hope is there in Nepal?
When Bishop Rennis and the team visited Gongabu where the Living Hope Church is currently being constructed and Hattiban where the design of the HQ of the Anglican Church in Nepal is currently being planned, we immediate see hope and opportunities for our new facilities to be used as place of outreach and evangelism, to reach students, workers, families and communities for Christ. A sudden joy filled our hearts as we see hope for this nation to come to know Christ through the these outreach points.
The team also visited Lahbu, to view a defunct school that has been put up for sale. Despite the damages to some parts of the building, the school building remains as an icon in the neighborhood. Strangely, the damages did not deter us from hoping and dreaming of a St. Andrew School in Nepal, where it could impact the young generations of Nepal through education. There is indeed hope in Christ!
Encouragement in the Midst of Grief
As part of the pastoral visit, Bishop Rennis and team flew into Dhading to encourage the church. As the helicopter approaches the village of Choke, sight of collapsed houses greeted us. And in some areas we could see the entire village reduced to rubble. Beside the rubble, we could see orange & blue tarpaulins being put up as temporary shelters. We were overwhelmed!
Pastor Prem Tamang the assistant pastor of Choke Church (Anglican) greeted us when the helicopter landed. The landing site was where the school used to stand. It had collapsed during the first quake and the villages have cleared to use it as a temporary helicopter landing site. We wasted no time to trek down towards the church. Along the way, we had a close-up view of the destruction, and our interpreter Rev. Rinzi related to us the tragic stories of each home. More than 70 from this village alone had perished from the quake.
On the way to the church, the team took the opportunity to visit and minister to Pastor Laxman’s family. Ps. Laxman was called home to be with the Lord when the first quake hit on 25 April. He leaves behind his wife, four children, his father and a sister. We had the opportunity to pay our respect at Ps. Laxman grave.
Despite the devastation in Choke, we could see how the villagers have rallied together, to help one another move on. This was evident by how they have worked together to help each other put up temporary shelters and encourage one another. And the smile on their faces greatly encouraged us.
Stories of how our Singapore team were encouraged continue to pour in – When Rev. Steven Asirvatham, Rev. Lawrence Visuvasam and Rev. Prem Tamang delivered 4.5 tons of rice and supplies to the villagers of Irkhu in Sindupalchowk, they were encouraged by the openness of the Hindus towards the church. They were once repulsive and aggressive towards the church, but today they have become friends with the church.
The medical teams from ACROSS and St. John’s – St. Margaret’s Church, in their deployments in Kathmandu, Tawal and Laba, also returned with stories of how they were greatly encouraged by the will power of the people to survive. Some testified of how God has touched the lives of the people. We thought we were there to encourage the people in Nepal, in return we found ourselves being encouraged by the people and for the believers their faith in God.
Rebuilding in the Midst of Grief
As the monsoon sets in, it pains our heart to see how the people, young and old have to weather the storm for the next few months. We believe, what is foremost on the mind of the people is to rebuild their home, their school, and their community. Likewise, we are committed to help and come alongside the people in Nepal in this rebuilding phase. It’s a mammoth task, we can’t do it alone and we need partners! And we are extremely thankful for the parishes, deaneries and partners from all over the world, who are standing with us, supporting us through financial means and providing expertise for this rebuilding phase. We are needing more than S$2,000,000 to rebuild the churches alone. We believe with your help, we will be able to rebuild Nepal for the glory of God.
We need to continue to pray for God’s wisdom and the opening of doors, as we work closely with the authorities and partners during this rebuilding phase. We will focus our rebuilding effort in the area of Upper Dhading where we have a concentrated Anglican presence, and also where the devastation was greatest.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all who are standing with the Deanery of Nepal through this very difficult time. Thank you and let’s continue to press-in to pray for the Glory of God to reign down in Nepal.
Rev Lewis Lew
(Dean of Nepal)
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