Mrs Irene Jeevaratnam (far left) speaking to Nepali women at Bira Furniture during a Lunch Fellowship sponsored by the mission team. – General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service picture.
FOR THE SECOND TIME, the General Conference (GC) Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) organised a mission trip to Nepal. Three women from the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference WSCS – Mrs Irene Jeevaratnam, Ms Vijayarani Adisayam and myself – participated in the trip which took place late last year.
It was a challenging and fruitful trip. Although there were only three of us, the Lord blessed the trip abundantly.
Immediately after we landed in Kathmandu, Nepal, we were whisked to our lodging and later met with Mrs Malar Solomon to prepare our programmes. We were participating in the Annual Meeting of The Methodist Church in Nepal (MCN), and had been tasked to lead two sessions of Women’s Theme Talks during the Meeting.
The Opening Service was held at Stuti Pransansa Church, Bafal, Lalitpur, Nepal. We were warmly welcomed by the Women’s mission trip to Nepal bears fruits for the future By Deviki Atchiah pastors of MCN, and were also garlanded with a Nepali shawl each. The uplifting and joyous worship was led by the youths, and a welcome dinner was held.
The Annual Meeting was held the next day, followed by the Ordination of Pastors and also the presentation of local preacher’s licenses to seven people. Out of the seven, three were women, and we thanked God for the three female local preachers that He had blessed the MCN with. For the first time, MCN gave a pictorial update of the ministries in all their churches and preaching points.
The next day, Mrs Solomon gave the first Theme Talk for the Nepali women. During the two-hour talk, she spoke about spiritual growth, using characters from the Bible such as the Samaritan woman, Mary, Martha, Naomi, Ruth and Jochebed. She also spoke about family, based on Psalms 127 and 128.
For the second session, instead of holding another Theme Talk, we decided to do a follow-up of Mrs Solomon’s talk and hold a workshop for the Nepali women. We commenced the workshop with ice-breaker games which helped the women unwind and open up for discussion. We prepared four topics for discussion: “Physical and Spiritual Food”, “Mary and Martha”, “The Samaritan Woman and Ruth”, and “Jochebed”.
The workshop was fruitful as the Nepali women understood what Mrs Solomon had taught and were able to express their views and answer the questions accurately with the help of the translators.
We also saw that the women had taken notes of Mrs Solomon’s talk and referred to it when they answered the questions. Later, when we asked a representative of each group to present the points, they related the points well and accurately.
After the workshop, we had songs, dances and games. They were sporting and followed whatever instructions we gave. This helped us to build relationships and they approached us for prayer. The team prayed for them individually and closed the session with prayer.
While the theme talk and workshop was going on, Ms Vijayarani conducted activities for the children using drawing, colouring and stickers.
We had set aside the next two days for outreach activities, which we prepared our testimonies and devotions for, but relied on the local church workers and members to help us find opportunities for outreach.
On the first day of outreach, we provided fried rice and drinks for a Lunch Fellowship with local Nepali women working in Bira Furniture. The women only had an hour for lunch. I shared my testimony with them and some women came forward for prayers. They were open to the Gospel and prayer. These women were very simple women who were hardworking and in poverty, and they shared their problems with us.
Mandhira, a Christian Nepali woman, was the point of contact and we laid the foundation for her and prayed that the Lord would touch the hearts of the women and that they would taste the love of Christ.
Following that, we visited Lydia Vocational Institute where there were 23 girls and two teachers doing their vocational training in sewing and also studying the Word of God. The training lasts for five months, after which they would begin to work either at home or with tailors.
We sang songs, did a short devotion on Psalm 34 and had a prayer session. The young girls were very disciplined and able to communicate with us through a translator. We blessed the girls with afternoon snacks and drinks.
The final destination was the Sophia Girls Home. Ms Vijayarani led the girls in songs and dances, and we taught them a Tamil song which they learnt quickly. It was followed by a sumptuous dinner where we built closer bonds with them.
The Sophia Home girls were very close to each other and the older girls acted as “sisters” to the younger girls. Two of the young girls were sick and the older girls were nursing and taking care of them. The house parents, the Rev Saba Lepcha and his wife Mrs Grace Lepcha, are dedicated house parents and treat the girls as their own children even though they already have two sons.
It was a blessed day for each of us and we thanked God for having helped us to be a blessing to the women and girls that we ministered to.
The second day of outreach was at Fulbari Church, where they held their Saturday Worship. The journey to the church was long, winding and bumpy. At the top of the hill, we were greeted by the voices of youths as they led in songs. When the people heard that we were coming, the worshippers from the preaching point also joined the church service. They were happy to see us and greeted us with love and big smiles.
Ms Vijayarani gave a song item and shared her testimony with the congregation. The Rev Lepcha gave the sermon and after the benediction, the congregation came to greet us. We grouped the women and girls for a fellowship, using songs and dances. The native Nepali women were able to sing their songs and dance with us. Their joy was evident and they released their inhibitions to bond with us.
We had a wonderful fellowship, and although it grew late, the women refused to budge as they continued to talk and ask us to pray, despite their long journey home. We blessed Fulbari Church with bananas, apples, chocolates and sweets, and in return they blessed us with their delicious home-grown guavas.
There were a few problems on the way but as we cast our burdens to God, He gave us peace and joy. Mrs Irene J was ill when we visited the Fulbari Church for Saturday Worship, and doubted she could attend the Worship Service the next day.
However, Mr Gopal Sebastian, who is a Methodist Missions Society missionary stationed in Nepal, gave her some medicine and his family, especially his three sons, prayed for us. The next day, Mrs Irene J was well and we were all able to go for the Worship Service and take Communion. Our Lord Jesus had healed her.
Finally, we travelled to Nagakot for a retreat, to reflect on the trip and discuss how we can continue to partner with the MCN. Our journey there took a day as we were delayed by pipe works on the road.
We had one full day for the retreat and it was both fruitful and challenging. We saw a wonderful sunrise that we had never previously experienced. Later in the evening, as we were sharing our reflections, we saw the sunset and the long Himalayan Range with snow-capped peaks! It was an awesome experience.
Looking ahead, our team recommends that the GC WSCS continues to empower and equip the Nepali women with Bible study on women characters in the Bible. All resources should be translated into Nepali so that the local Nepali can lead their own community in their villages, and we can help facilitate for the next four years. In this way, the ministry to women in the church will be strengthened and spiritual development increased.
Presently, the Nepali churches do not have Women’s Societies. In the next four years, we can continue to work with them to form WSCS, and the eventual milestone of forming a WSCS in the MCN.
A leadership programme could be tailored for the three women who were given a local preacher’s license, as these women can be future facilitators for their leadership programmes at their Annual Meeting and Outreach Programmes. We also must not forget the pastors’ wives, but should empower and equip them to lead the women in their local churches.
The Sophia Home girls are being deployed at church to take care of accounts and as translators and worship leaders.
Previously, the MCN sought translators from other independent churches, but this year they asked the Sophia Home girls to translate. We can also help raise new generations of believers and leaders for the MCN.
We are very grateful that although we are unworthy vessels, God has used us to bless the Nepali Women of the MCN. Deviki Atchiah is the Missions Coordinator of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service.
Deviki Atchiah is the Missions Coordinator of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service.