Facts about Nepal
* Nepal is home to eight of the world’s tallest mountains including Mount Everest.
* 50% of Nepal’s population earns less than $1.25 a day.
* Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha.
* Nepal is located above India and below Tibet.
* According to a 2001 survey, 80.6% of Nepal is Hindu, 10.7% is Buddhist, 4.2% is Muslim, 3.6% is Kirent, and 0.9% other.
Jessica King worked in Nepal as a missionary for six months in 2001. She says, “When I lived in Katmandu (the capital of Nepal) I could feel deep spiritual oppression every day. Believers were few and persecuted. At that time, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom closed to the Gospel. Daily we prayed that things would change in this beautiful nation.”
Since then, the government has changed hands several times and we hear recent reports that Nepal is opening up to the Gospel. We have been told that entire villages and people groups are willing to forsake their Hindu deities and become believers in Jesus. When we heard about this open door, we knew the time was ripe to go to Nepal for a public, open-air presentation of the Gospel, which hadn’t been allowed previously.
Three days before the Nepal Healing Festival was scheduled to begin, the head of our pastor’s committee received a call from the mayor of the city demanding that he come to his office. When the pastor arrived, it was obvious that the mayor was angry. He said, “All over the city, I see yellow posters advertising your Healing Festival. You have painted the entire city yellow. Who gave you permission to do this?” Politely, the pastor said, “You gave us permission.” He pulled out a sheet of paper that clearly gave the Christians permission to advertise for the festival. At the bottom of the paper, in blue ink, was the mayor’s own signature. The mayor had forgotten that several weeks previously, he had given his permission. Embarrassed, the mayor began to apologize. The pastor decided to take a chance and said, “Sir, when the Hindus do a festival, you give them money to help with the expenses and when the Buddhists have a festival, you give them money. As you know, the Christians are also tax payers, will you give us some money to help pay for a Christian Festival?” In a great gesture of welcome, the mayor of the city decided to donate 20,000 rupees (about $280) to the Christian festival.
Over 4,000 Christians welcomed us to their city with a giant rally and parade. A traditional Nepali band marched at the front and provided marching music. Church choirs sang, dancers worshiped the Lord, shouts of “Hallelujah” rang out, and the line of Christians, four persons wide, stretched for almost a kilometer, from one end of the city to the other. On the sidel
ines, Hindus gathered to watch the spectacle. They had no idea there were so many Christians in their country. They were amazed to hear the believers singing Christian words to traditional Nepali tunes. As the parade arrived at the Festival grounds in the middle of the city, the worship team kicked off the festivities with a fast-paced song of praise to Jesus Christ.
Many top government officials were curious about why we were in their city so they came to see what was happening. We gave them seats of honor on the platform. On the first day of the festival, I sat next to the chief of police, the chief of the armed forces, and the head administrator of the entire district of Surket. They started to talk among themselves. It was obvious they were confused about something. Finally, the three of them nominated the head administrator to ask a question. He leaned over and asked, “What is a healing festival? I have never heard of this before.” He had a very perplexed look on his face. As a Hindu in a predominately Hindu nation, he knew little about Christians and their ways. “A healing festival is when Jesus heals people emotionally, spiritually, and physically. There are many hurting people and Jesus wants to heal them,” we explained. “Oh, now I understand,” said the official. Instead of a puzzled look, he had a smile on his face. “This healing festival is a very good thing.” Then, in a final gesture of peace, he leaned over and said, “Merry Christmas.” It was the only Christian phrase he knew but it was his way of saying that he was happy to have Christians minister healing to the people of Surket.
My co-evangelist, Dr. Jack Myers preached the first day on the power of the name of Jesus. Thousands of people shouted the name of Jesus, many of them Hindus calling on Jesus for the first time. In the middle of the sermon, an elderly gentleman to the right of the platform jumped to his feet and lifted his walking cane in the air. He started to shout, “I’m healed. I’m healed.” The entire crowd turned to look at him. He threw his cane to the ground and began lifting his hands over his head. There was a huge smile on his face. After this spontaneous miracle, the preaching was over as God began to touch people across the field. People streamed forward to give their testimonies. A blind eye was opened. A man with back pain for four years was healed. Then, a Hindu man came to the platform. He explained that he had been deaf in his right ear for five years. As he listened to the sermon, his ear popped open and he was able to hear. We tested his hearing and he was able to hear even the softest whisper. When the crowd saw that he was Hindu, they began to talk, “Jesus is healing even Hindu people.” At the end of the first day’s service, as people left the field, it was obvious that word about what had happened was going to spread across the city. The whole town was talking about how Jesus was touching the Hindus.
On the second night of the Nepal Healing Festival, Daniel King preached about the goodness of God. He told the crowd, “Everything good comes from God. Everything evil comes from Satan.”
Daniel proclaimed, “Sin, sickness, hate, fear, and poverty is from Satan; salvation, healing, love, peace, and prosperity is from Jesus.” The crowd laughed as Daniel tried to pronounce some of the words in the local language.
Then Daniel informed the people that a choice must be made between following God or following the way of sin. He read John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give you abundant life.” He continued with a passage from Deuteronomy, “Today, God sets before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life.” Finally, Daniel explained that Jesus said there is a broad road that leads to destruction, and a narrow way that leads to life.
“Every person must make a choice whether they will follow Jesus or follow the way that leads to death. Do you choose to go to heaven or do you want to spend eternity in hell? If you want to be a follower of Jesus, raise your hand.” Across the field, thousands of people lifted their hands high into the air. Virtually the entire crowd wanted to follow Jesus.
On the third night of the Nepal Healing Festival, we issued a challenge, “If you have decided to follow Jesus, come up on the platform and testify.” The first person to come to the platform was the ex-mayor of the city. The entire crowd recognized him. He publicly declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins. From now on, I will live for Him.” All the people cheered for the former mayor.
On the fourth morning of the Fire Conference, Daniel gave an altar call for salvation. The Fire Conference is supposed to be for pastors and leaders, but we opened it up for the entire city to attend. Since there were many Hindus scattered throughout the church crowd, Daniel felt the need to give them an opportunity to be saved.
He said, “If you want Jesus to forgive your sins, then I invite you to come to the front of the church. If you have never given your life to Jesus, then today is your day.” About twenty people walked forward in response. Daniel asked them to all kneel on the ground and led them in a prayer for salvation.
One of the men who came forward for salvation was crippled. He could not walk without using a cane. Joyfully, he gave his life to Jesus.
Later, in the afternoon festival, the same man came to the platform. Instead of leaning on his cane, he was holding it high in the air. Jesus had healed him!
Koussila comes from a Hindu family. She became a believer several years ago and ever since, she has had one prayer. Her one request to God was for her mother to be saved.
When Koussila head about the “Healing Festival” she was very excited. She volunteered to help setting up the festival. For three weeks she worked hard putting all the details of the festival together. Since she speaks English, she was able to translate regularly for Joshua Myers, our festival director.
As Koussila worked putting up posters and inviting people to the festival, she prayed that her mother would be willing to attend. On the first night of the festival, her prayers were answered.
Her mother stood behind the platform as the preaching began. She listened to every word. But, when we led the crowd in the salvation prayer, Koussila’s mother just stood there.
Koussila was helping us translate the miracle testimonies. After the healing testimonies were finished, Koussila left the platform and went to her mother. “Did you pray with the preacher to make Jesus your Lord?” she asked her mother. “No, I have been a Hindu my whole life and I was scared,” came the reply. Koussila began to witness to her mother. She explained the message to her and told her what it means to be a follower of Jesus. After several minutes, she asked her mother, “Would you pray with me and ask Jesus for salvation?” To Koussila’s delight, her mother said, “Yes.” Right there, behind the platform, Koussila led her mother to Jesus.
With tears in her eyes, Koussila brought her mother to us to share the news. Her mother was smiling. She still had a Hindu red dot in the middle of her forehead, but now Jesus was living in her heart.
Many village people have walked a long distance to attend the Healing Festival. Since it is to far for them to return home each evening, we have provided blankets for them to sleep on at night. All the churches and believers of Surkhet have opened their doors to house the villagers.
Today in the Fire Conference, one of the pastors stood up to address a problem. He said, “We have noticed that many of you have been going to the bathroom out in front of the church. We have a toilet inside the church that we want you to use. Since you are from the villages, perhaps you have never seen a toilet before. God has created you to be kings and queens, and as royalty you must not squat in front of the church, instead you must sit on the throne. Please learn how to use the toilet.”
Before we arrived, our crusade director checked out our hotel rooms to make sure they were comfortable. One of the questions he asked the hotel manager was, “Does this hotel have hot water?” The answer was, “Yes, of course we do.”
To my disappointment, after a long dusty day preaching in the sun, I discovered that only freezing cold water came out of the showerhead. I gritted my teeth and took a cold shower. Sometimes when you are on a mission trip, you have to suffer for the Lord.
The next morning, at 5:30am there was a knock on the door. Blurry eyed, I answered the door. It was the desk clerk. In his hand was a pitcher of steaming hot water. “You want hot water for your shower?” he asked. By mixing hot and cold water in a bucket, I could have warm water to rinse off my body. So, technically the manager did not lie when he said the hotel has hot water, however, I still feel cheated somehow.
Twenty years ago, Pastor Padam was thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel. For five months he suffered in prison, wondering how his family was going to survive in his absence. Back then, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom and there was great opposition to the Gospel. But, now there is a new democratic government and people are becoming more open to Christianity. For Pastor Padam, it is a great miracle to be able to stand on a public platform and to talk about Jesus in front of the highest government officials. What he was once jailed for, he can now do in the open.
Throughout the town people are saying, “We have never seen anything like this before.” To be able to publicly proclaim, in the middle of the city, that Jesus is Lord is a great miracle. Never before have such large crowds of people gathered in this region to hear the Gospel.