Nanda was inspired to become a pastor as he saw the hardships around him as he was growing up. His neighbors were animists, they believed spirits of ancestors and nature, and worshiped idols to them. He wanted to share the release his family had found in Christ, and show his neighbors how a Christian community can provide freedom from oppression and even poverty.
So, after training at ServLife’s pastor training school, Nanda began to preach the Word among the people of his hometown. People quickly began witnessing the power of Christ through Nanda’s church. Many sick people were healed when members of his church prayed over them. One man had been paralyzed on one side of his body for over a year due to a neurological condition. After living in the church and being prayed over for two months, he was completely healed. Nanda’s church has since grown to include over 100 people and he has started 3 more churches in nearby areas as a result of the miracles people have witnessed.
Sharing God’s word is not always easy, however. Nanda lives in an area that many people have to travel through to get from one end of Nepal to the other. So there are all types of people living there, some of whom are opposed to Christians sharing the Gospel. Traveling Hindu priests stop in the area and make their living by performing ceremonies and getting paid to intercede with Hindu gods on behalf of the people. They are therefore opposed to Christians sharing the Gospel, because it takes away from their clientele of people desperate for help from the gods. The priests and zealous followers of other religions often threaten Nanda and his congregation as they attempt to minister to the community.
Pastor Nanda believes that he can help even more people witness the love of Christ through a micro-finance program to help local people escape poverty. He thinks that if the people are no longer in the clutches of desperation and have a community of believers offering to support them, then they will see God’s love at work and be more open to receiving Christ.
Please pray for Pastor Nanda to reach the lost in his community and to find strength to stand against the opposition the church faces. Pastor Nanda and many pastors like him also need a sponsor to encourage and support them.
Find out more on our Planting Churches and Pastor Sponsorship pages.
Posted on April 17, 2015 |
There are 167,026 people in Nepal’s Bhajang District, but only two churches. In fact, there are around 2,000 villages in Nepal that have not yet heard the gospel. ServLife’s Pastor Madan started the second church in Bhajang in 2012. In the past three years his church has grown to include 180 people across six villages, including those who meet for bible study and fellowship in other areas.
Growth has not always been so easy for Madan’s church though. Many people of high caste initially rejected his testimony because he is from a caste of former slaves. Madan was born into a family that had been in bonded labor due to debt for generations. At ten years old his job was to carry 50 kilogram bags on the farm for which his family was forced to work. Madan knew first hand how transformative the power the Gospel is for the poor and oppressed, but it was difficult to get the more affluent to listen to the good news.
So, in the course of his ministry, pastor Madan began caring for the poor and the sick. Miraculous healings began to happen when members of the church prayed for the sick. People who had been ill or paralyzed for years were suddenly well, and were telling their stories to their families and friends. People could no longer deny the power of Christ, and attendance at his church soared.
Now, Madan hopes to help people like himself: former slaves who were freed by the government but have no support or source of income. His dream is to start a micro-finance program, like ServLife’s HOPE Fund, to help former slaves in his area start businesses. This is also a wonderful way to share the Gospel, Madan says. He hopes that while caring for their physical needs he will be allowed to care for them spiritually as well.
Madan needs prayer for the Gospel to continue to spread in his area and similar areas that have not yet heard the good news.
Find out more about our church planting ministry. If you would like to find out how to support a pastor like Madan, click here.
Posted on April 13, 2015 |
God is making all things new. This transformational reality from Revelation 21 is possible because “God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women!” (Rev. 21:3)
We know from 2 Corinthians 5 that we are made into a new creation through Jesus and that God is drawing all of humanity and creation to Himself, and He has invited us to participate in this work of reconciliation. So plant a tree and share the hope of Jesus.
The seed of the good news of Jesus is being planted throughout India and Nepal, and it is ripe for harvest. The rural areas are typically less than 1% Christian, but new churches are growing rapidly through preaching, healing and sacrificial service. The need and opportunity are so great that some pastors are leading multiple churches in 3-6 villages. As Pastor Bhakta in Nepal puts it, “my church is growing every day. I’m like a doctor. Almost all the time I am praying for people and they get healed and then come to the church.”
Thank you for investing in pastors who are planting the hope of Jesus. Thank you for supporting children to grow into “oaks of righteousness.” And thank you for empowering families with small loans to cultivate a new business and flourish on their own.
May the freshness of spring renew our hearts and minds, and remind us of the presence of God to make all things new. May we plant seeds of reconciliation and hope through our time, treasures and talents.
Posted on April 3, 2015 |
In March over 100 pastors gathered in India and Nepal to learn, praise, and fellowship with one another. The gathering brought together the graduates of the ServLife pastor training schools to continue their training and spiritual growth through seminars, worship gatherings and encouraging each other. The two conferences focused on finding strength and courage to follow God’s vision for the pastor’s lives and churches.
Many of the pastors came in feeling tired or alone in their ministries; each living in far remote villages in India and Nepal. They faced opposition and even persecution throughout their year and were in need of something to recharge their zeal for ministry. Many traveled for several days to reach the conference, but once they were there, the payoff was enormous.
The pastors were encouraged and equipped with teaching by three guest pastors from Vista Community Church in Texas and Gospel Harvest Mission in Pennsylvania, as well as local pastors. ServLife Executive Director Adam Nevins and Assistant Director Tim Kurth also presented at the conferences and let the pastors know they are supported and prayed for by communities on the other side of the globe. The pastors left invigorated and filled with desire to take God’s love to everyone they meet and serve other as Christ served when they returned home.
Pastor Bhim Ratna shared that at times he was very discouraged but after the conference he was a new man. Bhim told us, “It Is like my batteries have been charged… Spiritually charged!”
Posted on March 30, 2015 |
Jesus spoke often of seeds and harvest. While the harvest is plentiful, Jesus pointed out that the workers were few. In villages in north India and Nepal, the potential harvest is enormous. Thousands of villages are as yet unreached by the gospel, and Christians make up only 2-3% of the population. With this potential all that is needed are the workers. Workers like, Pastor Bhim Ratna.
Pastor Bhim has seen the seed of the Gospel bloom into a church of hope and healing. Bhim’s experience of faith began with his father who struggled with demon possession when Bhim was young. Bhim’s father would come home from work every day and take off all his clothes down to his underwear and go to a town nearby where Hindu funeral cremations were performed. He would then spread the ashes left over from funeral pyres all over his body and go to the top of a mountain where he would dance all night long. Shocked and worried by this behavior, the family tried to cure his father any way they could. They went to local witch doctors and tried ceremonies from different religions but nothing cured his father. Finally, a Christian woman offered her help. She called people from her church and they came to pray over Bhim’s father and he was delivered from the evil spirit. Amazed by their father’s immediate transformation, the family began attending church with the people that helped them and Bhim was inspired to become a pastor.
Now, Bhim leads a church in central Nepal that has been growing steadily due to similar transformational experiences of healing. Many people from the area have been miraculously healed through prayer at his church. This has resulted in the entire community hearing about the power of Jesus. Bhim can hardly walk down the street without people asking him to pray for them. He and his congregation no longer have to travel to preach the gospel to people in the area, but rather people seek them out to hear about the healing power of God. Bhim’s ministry is blessing an entire village and God is truly bringing a harvest.
If you would like to support ministries like Bhim’s, visit our planting churches or pastor sponsorship pages to find out more.
Posted on March 13, 2015 |
Laxmi is named after the Hindu goddess of fortune, love, and prosperity. However, due to her family’s misfortune and her gender, Laxmi has spent her life fighting being labeled as bad luck.
When Laxmi was two and a half years old her father was killed in an automobile accident while working in India. Severely affected by the death of her husband, Laxmi’s mother became mentally unstable and began suffering from night blindness. Because they occurred after her birth, Laxmi’s highly superstitious family blamed these hardships on Laxmi being a jinx.
After her father’s death, Laxmi’s mother sent Laxmi and her three siblings to live with their uncle. He was able to provide the bare necessities for the family, but Laxmi still describes life there as a financial struggle. “My uncle sent my brothers to school but later when I grew I was not to go to school because my uncle thought that it was not necessary for a girl to attend school, and moreover he did not want to waste extra tuition fees on someone else’s child.” Laxmi says, “So, I was sent to look after goats and collect grass for my uncle’s cattle.” When she was 8 years old Laxmi’s uncle wanted to send her to an orphanage to reduce his expenses. “One evening when I came back with the goats (ServLife Children’s Director) Udaya was there to pick me up to take me to an orphanage, but I was scared and I cried a lot. I did not want to go because what would a girl of 8 know when somebody comes to take her from where she called a home?” Laxmi describes. Fortunately, this scary experience was a turning point in Laxmi’s life.
Director Udaya saw that Laxmi did not want to go to the children’s home. Wanting to keep her family together, he decided to fill their real need. He set up a scholarship for Laxmi’s education and enrolled her in a local school. After 7 years of support, Laxmi is now 15 and studying in grade 5. Life is still sometimes a struggle. Laxmi’s conservative Hindu family makes her sleep outside the home during monthly menstruation because at that time women are “untouchable.” There is very little to go around and ServLife is supplementing Laxmi with other needs such as clothing, as well as providing her scholarship. But despite all this Laxmi is thriving. “I am getting those things that I need which the ones around me are supposed to give me but they cannot and would not provide.” Laxmi says, “I know there are people praying for me, ready to encourage me and still supporting me from far far away and I have a God who knows that I am not bad luck.”
Situations like Laxmi’s are why we are committed to propelling justice and building global community to care for and educate children. If you would like to support a girl like Laxmi, visit our child sponsorship page.
Posted on February 27, 2015 |
A guest blog from ServLife HOPE Fund Director Sam Lemmons about his and his wife’s work with ServLife’s micro-finance program.
The HOPE Fund micro-finance program had its start in Nepal six years ago in a remote village in East Nepal. I just returned from my first trip there and I was truly blessed to see what God has accomplished through the ServLife church planter and through the HOPE Fund.
This fund started with $1,800, and with this small amount, 46 loans have been given over the last six years. I was able to interview some who had just received loans as well as others who had been some of the first to receive loans.
Our first interview was with Bhim, who received his first loan in 2008. He used the loan to start a furniture making business including acquiring training and equipment. Before the HOPE Fund, he had no land of his own, no way to start any type of business for himself, and no collateral to get a conventional loan. His family had no money and they were struggling to even survive. Bhim is now proud to be a landowner, has built his family a nice house and has sent his children to school. He even sends money every month to his daughter who is in medical school. He has a thriving business and is truly one of the best examples of what we want to accomplish through the HOPE Fund: fighting poverty by empowering individuals to create wealth to change their family’s status and to feed and educate their children. Bhim’s situation has completely changed and he completely believes in Jesus!
Pastor Bhakta (left) has done an amazing job in this village, changing lives through Christ’s love as well as through the numerous micro-loans that have allowed hundreds of people to come out of extreme poverty. They are now living transformed lives that include kids being fed and sent to school. Those who had no land now are landowners and thriving in their community.
Having seen the results of loans that were given out six years ago, the fruits speak for themselves. I feel so privileged to have seen what has been accomplished, and know that even years after I depart Nepal, the HOPE Fund program we have shaped will continue to change countless lives. Praise be to God for his grace and love he has for all of the peoples of this world.
If you would like learn more about the HOPE Fund and how you can support if visit http://servlife.org/what-we-do/fighting-poverty/
Posted on February 20, 2015 |
Luke 12:29 and 31 read, “So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things. Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” The things I worry about feel desperately important. And yet Jesus basically tells me, “I got this. You focus on heavenly things and I’ll take care of the human things.”
My response to Jesus’ invitation here is often to let go, then grab it back. Over and over again. But when I truly shift my gaze to the heavenly realm I find new purpose. True purpose and focus. And with it comes peace that often doesn’t make any sense. That purpose and peace leads to mission. Jesus continues in Luke 12, “Be generous. Give to the poor… The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
Thank you for embracing that mission. Your focused gaze on heavenly things, along with your open-handed generosity has made a deep impact on God’s kingdom. You have helped start churches in villages with no church. You have rescued children with no parents. You have empowered families with no steady income. Thank you for investing in the treasures of God’s kingdom.
May we let go of our daily worries and embrace the mission of generosity. May we fix our gaze on heavenly things that truly matter, and may God grant us peace and purpose.
Posted on February 13, 2015 |
Christmas may be over, but its blessings are continuing to ripple out among the community of our ServLife partner in India. Our partners in Raxaul, Bihar face a lot of pressures from the predominantly Hindu community in the area. Bihar is one of the hardest areas for Indian Christians to live and work. Less than 0.5% of the population in the area is Christian*, and those who are often face persecution. Our India Director, Albert Das, has faced personal threats of violence multiple times from parties who want him to cease sharing the gospel and doing his work in the name of Jesus.
However, Albert refuses to relinquish the passion God has given him for his work. Beyond his work training pastors to plant churches and caring for over 30 children his children’s home, he also welcomes kids from the surrounding community to the ServLife International Missions School to receive an education at little or no charge. Many of these children are from Hindu and Muslim families, but are welcomed as brothers and sisters by Albert and his family.
This past Christmas, as he does periodically throughout the year, Albert invited the families of the Missions School children to join in a Christmas celebration at the children’s home. 70 children and many parents from the surrounding area gathered to play games, see skits, and sing together. Albert and his family shared about the reason they celebrate Christmas and later all the children received gifts and everyone shared a meal together. Albert shares, “it was a great time of fellowship with the community.”
Many of the families of the Hindu and Muslim children ServLife helps educate are reluctant to engage the gospel because of societal pressures and intolerant climate in the area. Nonetheless, many of the parents attending the Christmas program told Albert that they had “never experienced such love and were excited to hear the story of Jesus Christ.” Albert plans to visit these families in the coming months to continue to share Christ’s love with them and help them in areas they are concerned with, such as adult literacy and hygiene education.
Please pray that as Albert and our other partners continue to shower their community with God’s love that lives will be blessed and hearts will be opened to the good news of Christ.
To support a child in ServLife India Missions School visit our child sponsorship page.
*Source: “Population by Religion in Bihar”. Censusindia.gov.in.
Posted on February 6, 2015 |