This is a guest blog by ServLife Intern Heather Reid who participated in the Teacher Training Trip in 2015.
It’s been almost a year since I went on ServLife’s teacher training trip. I’m excited to think about the people who are preparing to go on this year’s trip as I think about how much I got out of my own trip. I myself am not a teacher nor am I pursuing a degree in education; however, I have finished my sophomore year of studying history and international relations. One doesn’t need to study these things to go on a mission trip, but my schooling gave me a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Nepal, and my experiences on the trip enriched what I study.
Nepal has a history of bonded labor and monarchy. Even with the onset Nepal’s republic, they are working against a hierarchy that doesn’t seek inclusion or equally value all of its members. Democracy is a habit that takes root in ideas like freedom of knowledge through education.
Through presenting an education conference for teachers in far-west Nepal, our team began to learn about some of the challenges of the education system. Schools are underfunded; there isn’t a universal commitment to education; Nepal’s economy is ill prepared for a generation of educated men and women even though that’s exactly what it needs to improve its infrastructure. Graduates usually try to go to India or come to the United States. It’s disheartening for teachers to feel like their investment isn’t being sown back into the country.
We were entering into a frustration that was bigger than the few days we were going to be there. It was obvious we couldn’t solve every problem, but the true value lay in making a dent and encouraging the teachers. Our real mission was to bolster the inherent value of teachers through engaging them in strategic learning and planning. Uplifted teachers perform more highly. That high performance leads to improved educational quality and in turn raises the national esteem for educational pursuits. Education increases autonomy and self-determination. It develops the individual and the system as a whole.
I am humbled to have been a part of ServLife’s presence in Nepal. They choose a slow and steady approach built on mutual respect to address issues with no easy solution. Systemic problems take years of work and study to affect incremental change. I’m so happy that I went on this trip, but I’m happier that there is another one this July.
Posted on June 25, 2016 |
Building global community can be writing a letter to an orphan, providing a small loan to a family in a village or praying for the church to grow around the world. For Pastor John Free from Boerne, Texas it meant flying to the other side of the world to get to know their sponsored pastor, Mansing. Pastor Free and a team from Currey Creek Baptist Church traveled to Nepal with ServLife, and after teaching at our annual Pastors’ Conference in Kathmandu, they set out on the journey of a lifetime. They followed Pastor Mansing to his home base in the Himalayas, traveling like locals to see where the ministry of church planting in an unreached area goes from theory to reality.
“The trip was – it’s crazy!” Pastor Free described. “It’s a 13 hour bus ride over less than ideal roads, but it was good to experience it and then even to go on from there up into the mountains. At that point it’s not theory, it’s real. This is where the ministry of ServLife [happens]. This is where the rubber meets the road.”
Pastor Free’s team was able to visit two of Pastor Mansing’s eight churches to worship and fellowship with their congregations. They also interviewed Mansing about his journey as a Christian and his work to share the Gospel in an area where most people are Hindus and have never heard the Good News before. “To see what life is like in the village where Pastor Mansing pastors his church… to see the living conditions that are there – the poverty that is there – was again just a hugely beneficial experience,” Currey Creek member Eric Cate shares.
The trip provided a rare window into the challenges and joys of planting churches in remote and unreached areas. Nepali pastors often encounter persecution and resistance to what locals see as an outsider’s religion. “I really understood the challenges they’re up against,” Associate Student Pastor Bret Williams said. “The socioeconomic struggles, the cultural and religious struggles they face. It really put the work these pastors do into perspective.”
That perspective is what created a powerful bond between Pastor Free’s team, Pastor Mansing, and the work he and pastors like him are doing in India and Nepal. These are the bonds of global community ServLife strives to build, and we are so grateful for this team and their strong commitment to solidarity with Nepali pastors as they spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
“I dream for the future that here will be a church in every village,” Mansing envisions. “I’m building a team of believers that can go and serve everywhere.”
If you would like to learn more about the pastors involved in ServLife’s ministry planting churches visit servlife.org/sponsorapastor/ and read some of their profiles.
Posted on June 11, 2016 |
Colossians 3:17 is one of my favorite verses, “Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.” Some people speak but don’t act. Some act but don’t speak. Some speak and act but not in the name of Jesus.
When I was a pre-teen I had trouble thinking before speaking. I suppose it’s normal at that age, but still not a great habit. When I was 13, I read James 3 about the power of the tongue and the discipline of bridling it. I began to shut up and listen and think before I spoke. Despite coming a long way, it’s a discipline I am still learning. Now, I not only think before I speak but I also think before I act. A lot. Almost to the point of paralysis when it comes to the pursuit of justice, perfection and right action. Our words and actions can cause much damage. They can also give life, hope and unconditional love.
I love that ServLife is not about speaking OR acting, but rather preaching the good news of Jesus AND showing the love of Jesus through action. Everything we do together in India and Nepal is holistically showing love in the name of Jesus. Your actions and support in the name of Jesus is having a wide impact around the world, and we give thanks to God for you. You have given preachers a voice in remote villages. You have empowered child caretakers to rescue orphans. You have helped those without hope to build a business and a life for themselves through micro-finance. Thank you for putting your money where your mouth is for the work of Jesus.
May we be disciplined with our tongue, thoughtful in our action, and generous with our lives. In everything we do, may it give glory to God and fuel gratitude to the Father of us all.
Posted on June 4, 2016 |
Pastor Joseph in Nepal has discovered a unique way to love his community through his ministry. Two years ago, shortly after planting his church in far eastern Nepal, Pastor Joseph and a fellow Christian man were sharing the gospel and distributing booklets when a woman confronted them with an unusual request. She asked them if they had any fever medicine. Someone in her family was sick and there was no pharmacy or doctor nearby.
Pastor Joseph and his friend were surprised but agreed to come back the next day and bring some medicine. They went to a pharmacy and bought packs of fever relief medicine for a few dollars. They went back to the remote village and distributed the medicine along with the gospel booklets. The Village community was suddenly much more receptive to what Pastor Joseph had to say. They asked him to come back again. The Lord had showed him a way to spread the Word through caring for the community.
“It’s hard to share gospel with people at our first meeting,” Pastor Joseph says. “In the countryside most of the people are traditional, conservative and ritualistic Hindus. So we have to be very conscientious about how we share the gospel. But praise the Lord, we have been able to spread gospel through a small pharmacy which we started almost a year ago.”
Pastor Joseph immediately began planning to open a small clinic to serve the community’s basic health needs and provide medicines that would otherwise be unavailable. Pastor Joseph undertook some health training and now offers basic checkups at the “Healthy Family Clinic and Fellowship.”
“Initially villagers used to blame us for religious conversion. They had a negative attitude towards us and sometimes threatened or treated us badly. But nowadays wherever we go most of the people respect us and welcome us into their homes,” Pastor Joseph shares. “Now they have understood that what we are doing is truly God’s love we are sharing with them. Many have changed their thinking toward us and are slowly coming to Christ.”
If you are interested in supporting Pastor Joseph’s work, check out his profile and consider sponsoring him!
Posted on May 13, 2016 |
ServLife was ranked among worldwide leaders in nonprofit transparency and effectiveness on Wednesday with the launch of the GuideStar Platinum Participant accreditation. A platinum ranking is now the highest offered by GuideStar, the world’s largest nonprofit information source, indicating an organization’s extreme commitment to honest reporting and genuine results.
ServLife is one of 248 nonprofits out of GuideStar’s 1.8 million participants to become an “Early Adopter” of the platinum ranking, placing us in the top .0001% of registered nonprofit organizations. “Platinum allows nonprofits to report their progress against their missions in quantitative terms. For the first time in the history of the field, Platinum will allow us to address nonprofit performance measurement at scale,” Jacob Harold of GuideStar states.
“We are honored to be one of only five Indiana nonprofits to be early adopters into the new GuideStar Platinum program,” says ServLife Executive Director Adam Nevins. “GuideStar continues to push nonprofits in the area of accountability while simultaneously informing and equipping donors.”
ServLife demonstrated the efficacy and transparency of our programs through qualification for GuideStar Platinum. We are committed to honest reporting of our use of funding, as well as maintaining a high percentage of support going to programs despite doubling our program reach.
Nepal’s average citizen makes only $2 a day and India’s poverty rate is over 20% according to WorldBank. Both countries are in need of sustainable resources to aid the poor. Our program to educate children and house orphans has grown 51% in the last four years, giving 383 children an opportunity to overcome systemic poverty in 2015 alone. We are also proud of our successful micro-lending program to empower families in remote villages of the Himalayas through small business loans. Graduates of this program make over 200% the average daily wage and are paying off their loans on within two years, allowing funds to be redistributed to others in their communities and lift whole villages out of poverty.
“Being part of the vanguard with Guidestar Platinum says a lot about ServLife – and their desire to truly build a partnership with their supporters,” says Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell. “When an organization is willing to go beyond normal transparency metrics, to actively seek ways to be more open and forthcoming, it builds trust and creates the space for deepening relationships and increasing positive outcomes.”
Posted on May 12, 2016 |
Blog By Assistant Director Tim Kurth
Exactly one year ago we awoke to the news that a terrible earthquake had struck the heart of Nepal. Immediately upon hearing the news ServLife responded. Within days food was being delivered to families affected by the quake. Soon after, tarps and other vital supplies were on their way.
In the days and weeks following the disaster, the stories of death, destruction and displacement continued to mount. All the while ServLife was there providing food, water, shelter, encouragement and prayer. You helped provide relief for more than 4,000 people, bringing semi-permanent shelters to two villages and restoring hope to the people of Nepal.
As we mark the first anniversary of the earthquake I recall working with Udaya and his team to deliver food to 150 families in the Sindhupalchok District and working with Lazarus’ staff to select the shelters that would house every family in Bhuji. I’ll never forget walking the streets of villages reduced to rubble and comforting our pastors and their people now living under tarps.
This March we celebrated the ribbon cutting marking the opening of our new pastor training center in Kathmandu built to replace the building that was badly damaged by the quake. Adam and I were privileged to celebrate this event with our local staff and many of our Nepali pastors. We were also blessed to see some of the long term shelters you provided to families in Jhor, just north of Kathmandu.
Thanks to you ServLife has made a great start down a very long road. The recovery in Nepal will take decades and we’re committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with our pastors and families as they rebuild homes, churches and whole villages. I can’t thank you enough for your generosity.
Please keep the people of Nepal in your prayers.
Photos of ServLife Relief Efforts
The ribbon cutting at ServLife's rebuilt pastor training school.
Posted on April 23, 2016 |
In James 1:18, it says that “[God] chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.” YOU are God’s first fruits of his work. You are the first crop of God’s great harvest, and the first crop of any plant often provides the seeds for future harvests.
Rice is the first crop plant whose complete genetic sequence (genome) has been compiled and placed in computer data banks around the world, because it has the potential to end world hunger. Rice is most economically sown (requiring less seed) when first raised in seedbeds, then transplanted out into the field for mass harvest.
God has raised you up and planted you in this world to sow his harvest of love and joy. Through the power of Jesus, you are working to end world suffering by bringing people into God’s healing arms. Together with ServLife you have rescued orphaned children off the street, helped bring the hope of Jesus to remote villages that had never heard his name and empowered families with small business loans, putting food on their table and sending their kids to school. You continue sowing hope and love, reaping a beautiful harvest in the name of Jesus. Thank you.
Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights. May God bless us to be a blessing to others and spread the seeds of hope and love.
Posted on April 16, 2016 |
“When we all get together, it’s a wonderful time. We can see God’s presence with us. We can see that mighty power with us,” Director Albert Das shares. That was the purpose of ServLife’s 2016 Pastors’ Conference- to bring pastors together to build their common community, encourage one another and be in the presence of God.
Pastors came from all over India and Nepal, some taking buses or even walking for several days to get to Kathmandu, Nepal and Bihar, India. We also were able to send several American pastors to encourage and fellowship with their fellow pastors during the conference. Once they finally arrived the 122 pastors in attendance were treated to a time of learning, solidarity and worship. Our visiting pastors offered insights and lessons from scripture alongside many local leaders of the church, building a cross-cultural bond that was felt deeply by all. “[It’s important] for these pastors to know that they have the support of the worldwide church,” Pastor John Free of Currey Creek Baptist Church of Boerne Texas shared. “We’re in this together. There’s not a lot of churches, there’s one church!”
Many pastors had faced adversity in the last year, both with the economic strain caused by the Nepal earthquake and Blockade from India, as well as enduring threats and sometimes violence from fundamentalist groups opposed to Christians in their areas. Many were in sore need of a reason to continue in their call to ministry and said that the conference came just in time. Hearing the stories they had in common with other pastors and even with the Christians from the United States was the encouragement they needed to continue. The conference’s theme was “Abide in Christ” from John 15:4 and topics included how to take Sabbath rest, listening to God through silence and contemplation, and methods to study scripture. It was the perfect reminder of the mighty power of God abiding with those who abide in Him.
Posted on April 9, 2016 |
Easter has been so normalized in our Christian culture that I often miss the point. On the surface, I want chocolate, hopefully with a creamy caramel center. Deeper than that, I want Christ’s victory to make the American dream possible for me. And there I am missing the point again. So did the the crowds on Palm Sunday.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem the people were ready to make Jerusalem great again and overthrow the existing leadership, establishing Jesus as their new military and political leader. Waiving palm branches (which were a symbol of victory) and violently yelling “Hosanna!” meaning “save us,” “rescue us,” they were ready for their rebellion to begin. Jesus rode in on a majestic steed (a donkey, really Jesus?) and then proceeded to enter a week of what seemed to be loss, not victory. And yet he defeated an enemy much bigger and more dangerous than Rome. On the cross Jesus paid the debt of all humanity and with the empty grave he established himself more powerful than sin and death. The victorious life that he invites us into is not for chocolate or picket fences; it is for spiritual and emotional freedom and the restoration of all humanity with our spiritual Father.
Pastors in India and Nepal are sharing this victorious life of freedom and restoration with families in remote villages who have never heard the gospel. Child care workers are showing the love of Jesus and sharing about our perfect heavenly Father with orphans. God is bringing restoration and healing and your partnership makes this work possible. Thank you for your investment in the true meaning of Easter.
May we do all we can to share the love and restorative power of Jesus, as displayed through the cross and empty grave.
Posted on March 25, 2016 |
Sujata Shrestha is the living definition of a bundle of joy. She’s almost three and like most children she adores cartoons, singing songs, and getting as much loving attention as she can from both her family and strangers who are charmed by her outgoing nature. Looking at her today you’d never guess at the tragedy in her past that brought her to ServLife’s Kathmandu Children’s Home.
Sujata was only one year old when the earthquake hit Nepal on April 25th, 2015. Her mother had left Sujata outside while she went in to use the bathroom and the house collapsed in the quake. Sujata’s mother was killed in the falling home, but Sujata was miraculously unharmed. Her father and older brother attempted to care for little Sujata, but between her father’s work and her brother’s school the situation was unsustainable. Sujata needed the full-time love and care that would allow her to thrive.
After the earthquake orphanages and children’s homes were flooded with children in need of care, and it was difficult for Sujata’s father to find a permanent place where she would be cared for well. Many children from the affected areas were sent home by the government due to inadequate care. A local official referred him to ServLife, where he knew refugee children were approved to stay long-term.
So, on the day of her second birthday Sujata joined the family at the Kathmandu children’s home. Now she is running the place! “She’s our boss here,” Children’s Director Udaya Bhatta says, “She keeps us running after her. She is very smiley and very loving and she’s a very good girl. I love her very much.” Sujata has everyone wrapped around her finger and her sweet little smile lights up the room. Thanks to the loving care she is receiving Sujata is growing and learning in ways that would have been completely unavailable to her after her mother’s death. “We are happy that Sujata is with us here, and to help her to grow, and make her life better in the future. We are glad to do that.” Udaya says, “I think it is really the vision that God has given us the heart for us to help kids to grow in a loving place.”
Posted on March 14, 2016 |