Tuesday, August 28, 2012

God is working! Kingdom in the Clouds

Kingdom In The Clouds

Operation Christmas Child makes inroads for the Gospel in communities all over Nepal
Nepal is known for being the home of Mount Everest, the crowning jewel of the Himalayas and the tallest peak on earth, reaching more than five miles into the heavens. Mountaineers from across the globe travel to Nepal to challenge the rugged peaks.

The country also has a unique spiritual heritage that embraces two of the world’s most widely held religions, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Thousands of Buddhists make pilgrimages to Lumbini, Nepal, to visit the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Although Buddhism spread across Asia, it was Hinduism that took root in Nepal. The country was the world’s only Hindu kingdom until it was declared a secular state in 2006. Today more than 80 percent of the nation’s 30 million people worship the gods and goddesses of Hinduism.

Christians have always been a minority in Nepal. In 1980, only a few thousand believers were known to exist. Today, that number tops 700,000 and continues to grow with the help of missionaries and native believers dedicated to spreading the Gospel.

GET INVOLVED: Click here to order materials and begin preparing for National Collection Week, November 12-19, 2012, and learn more Operation Christmas Child.

Samaritan's Purse is helping make a way for the Gospel through gift boxes that are distributed to children through Operation Christmas Child.

Working in partnership with local churches, the Operation Christmas Child National Leadership Team in Nepal is building bridges of trust and making inroads into communities from the slums of Kathmandu and to remote villages, where gift boxes have to be packed in on foot over rugged mountain trails.

“Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful outreach to the community,” said Dhan Raj Ghimire, the National Leadership Team coordinator in Nepal. “Jesus Christ loved children very much. When we share His love with the children, parents see it, they learn to trust us, and they allow their children to come to church and participate in other Samaritan’s Purse programs. It’s all about Jesus Christ.”

When Pastor Arzun Ramtel moved to the village of Khadgabhanzyang to plant a church, there were only a handful of believers, and he found it difficult to make headway into the community. Operation Christmas Child changed everything.

“Operation Christmas Child became a way to show love to the community,” he said. “The gifts are given to the children, but they become a way to reach the family.”

A blind man named Rasham first heard the Gospel when his 10-year-old daughter, Mina, brought a gift box home. She handed her father each gift and described it to him in detail. There was a pair of gloves, a coloring book, pencils, a ball and her favorite gift, a stuffed animal dog.

Mina began to attend the Bethel Assemblies of God Church, where she learned more about Christ and studied the Bible. “I accepted Jesus at my Sunday school,” Mina said.

Pastor Ramtel visited Mina’s family and discovered that Resham was having fainting spells and had been unable to work. Although Rasham is blind, he is a talented musician who plays a sanai, a unique Nepali instrument that looks somewhat like a clarinet that is played at weddings and special events.

Ramtel prayed for Resham and shared the Gospel with him and his wife, Batti.

“The pastor became like a father to me,” Rasham said. “He comes to help me during times of hardship. I have accepted Jesus. I have committed my life to Christ.”

Rasham is one of many new believers who heard about God’s gift of salvation because of the project.

“Operation Christmas Child is a milestone for the church in this community,” Ramtel said. “Through this ministry, many unreached people have had a chance to hear the Gospel, and many have received Jesus Christ.”

Alongside each gift box, children receive a colorful booklet called “The Greatest Gift of All.” When the children go home, the booklet often becomes the first contact that families have ever had with the Gospel.

In the village of Shikharbshi, Shanti Tamang opened a gift box and caught her breath when she found a “Cutie” doll with bright orange hair resting on top of the gifts.

“I never had a doll before” the 12-year-old said as she gave the doll a hug. “And the notebooks and the pens and—oh, I am so happy!”

Shanti heard a Gospel message before she received her gift box and was intrigued by the colorfully illustrated booklet she received.

“I like the pictures,” she said, thumbing through the pages. “When I get home, I will read it to my brother and sisters. I will also read it to my parents, because they can’t read.”

Recent Operation Christmas Child distributions have taken gift boxes to remote villages in the Nuwakot region, where the Gospel has rarely been heard and where there are no churches. Tragically, the area is also the center for human trafficking.

Lured by promises of good jobs and even marriage, young girls are whisked away from their mountain villages and forced to work in brothels in Kathmandu and neighboring India. Young men are also taken and put to work on construction crews or in factories. Most of the children are never heard from again.

Pastor Lok Bahadur is coordinating distributions in the Nuwakot region. He said that human trafficking is a source of shame for the people in the villages, but the Gospel provides hope and truth that can help conquer the darkness.

“I have been praying for these villages for years,” he said. “I will visit the villages myself to do fellowship and follow-up ministry with the children and the community.”

Shoe box distributions were recently done at local schools in the Nuwakot region, and school administrators were thrilled. Many children drop out or rarely come. But when word went out that the gift boxes were coming, classrooms were overflowing.

“I think the teachers were happier than the children,” Pastor Bahadur said. “The gift boxes encouraged children to come to school and get involved again.”

Bahadur was also encouraged knowing that the excitement of the children and the Gospel booklets they received would touch hundreds of families.

“My job is to spread the Gospel and replace darkness with the love of God,” Bahadur said. “These shoe boxes that came all the way from America are symbols of God’s love.”

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