Pastor Kamal’s journey with Christ has taken him all over South Asia. He first heard the gospel in India while visiting a cousin, but at the time he did not want to accept the Good News. He was not ready to let God into his heart, but rather kept seeking worldly fulfillment. Later he traveled to both Qatar and Malaysia in search of work because Nepal did not offer enough opportunities. In Malaysia he heard the gospel for a second time, and in this instance his heart was opened to receive God. He accepted Jesus into his life and journeyed back to Nepal with a desire to do God’s work. He enrolled in the ServLife training school. “We started our journey of ministry with sharing small Gospel brochures in the day time and in the evening we showed them Gospel films,” Kamal says. “After the film was shown we could share our thoughts and discuss it in a small group. In this way we were able to share the Gospel with many people.”
Now, several years later, Pastor Kamal’s congregation has grown to over 100 believers. However, they are again facing a journey of both a geographical and spiritual nature. The recent earthquakes in Nepal destroyed Pastor Kamal’s entire village. “We all lost our animals, foods, dishes and documents under the rubble of our houses,” Kamal explains. “The government told us not to go to our village due to the huge rocks still falling in landslides from the mountains around us.” So, Kamal’s entire village, made up of 44 families, must relocate and find shelter. They are restarting from scratch, a journey that will test their endurance and their faith. Pastor Kamal is asking for prayer that his community would be safely housed before the rainy season, and they would stay safe and healthy in their temporary homes. He also would like prayer for his congregation to grow spiritually through this trying time of journey and transition.
ServLife is currently building 44 long-term temporary homes for the occupants of Pastor Kamal’s village, racing against time to ensure they have shelter for the monsoon season. Each family will receive a corrugated steel shelter with a brick foundation and solar powered lighting. ServLife staff will be visiting Pastor Kamal’s community at the end of July, so stay tuned for an update on this project in August.
This relief work will make all the difference to those displaced by the earthquake. To contribute to similar projects please visit servlife.org/earthquake/.
Posted on July 25, 2015 |
I just returned from a week of vacation in Florida with my family. It was a wonderful time of rest and quality time together, and has me thinking about Sabbath. Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word sabat, which means “to rest or stop or cease from work.” God modeled it in the creation story, intertwined it throughout Old Testament law and even made it one of the Ten Commandments. Then Jesus comes along.
Jesus broke the rules, and violated the traditional practice of Sabbath more than once. Sometimes it was healing someone and sometimes it was just snacking on wheat while walking with his friends. This was the case in Mark 2, and when confronted by the Pharisees, Jesus makes an odd and revealing statement. “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. For this reason the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Jesus is slave to no law, and ironically is also the embodiment of the law. Jesus said that he came to fulfill the law. He embodies the heart behind it all, and offers himself to us all. Jesus is the law. Jesus is the Sabbath. Jesus is rest.
Hebrews 4 expands our understanding of Sabbath from one day a week to a way of life through Jesus. Jesus is the access and source of this rest, and he invites us to rest in Him as a way of life. Personally, I’d rather just have a rule to rest one day a week. Resting in Jesus every day, every minute, feels much more challenging. And yet way more desirable. I need Jesus. I need his rest. We need his rest.
ServLife’s leaders in India and Nepal understand this better than I do. They wrap their day in devotions, saturate it with prayer, cover it with worship and devote themselves to listening to Jesus in every moment. It is from this rest that they are able to work relentlessly to serve others. Sabbath marries service and gives birth to justice.
This rest and work and justice would not be possible without your partnership and investment. Thank you for helping to start churches in remote villages, for rescuing orphans and for empowering families on the brink of extreme poverty. You are bringing peace to pain and rest to chaos. Thank you.
May we experience true rest that can be found in Jesus alone. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” – Jesus
Posted on July 18, 2015 |
In the intensity of May, India’s hottest month, it is difficult even to survive in northern India- let alone feel like celebrating. Nevertheless, a spirit of joy persists in Bihar where our partners celebrated their thirteenth graduation ceremony for students completing the pastor training school.
The training center was started in 2002 with a vision to send out pastors to plant churches in areas where the gospel has never reached. Many of the students come from backgrounds where parents and communities do not support their beliefs and actively oppose their ministry. This does not deter them, however, from seeking to fulfill the great commission among their communities.
Now that the students have been equipped with training they are ready to go out to share their unique testimonies of God’s work in their lives. As they shared samosas and other traditional Indian treats with the local community, they spoke of their plans to begin or further develop their own church communities. The students praised the quality of the training, saying their faith had been strengthened to do the work God called them to. They also spoke of their desire to send more Christian leaders to be equipped, and asked for prayer that God would place more workers in His fields. The celebration was full of hope and promise that made surviving the heat not just a possibility but also a pleasure and a testament to God’s goodness in that difficult area of the world.
Please pray for our newest pastors in India and consider encouraging their young ministry through sponsorship.
Posted on June 26, 2015 |
In Romans 8:6 Paul writes, “Focus the mind on the flesh, and you’ll die; but focus it on the spirit, and you’ll have life, and peace.” I don’t know about you, but that is so hard for me. I am easily distracted by the physical world and can miss the transcendent realities of the spiritual realm. I’ve been reading the story of Joseph near the end of Genesis, and have been struck by his endurance. His resolve was rooted in spiritual realities while his physical condition plummeted and ascended. This resolve and faithfulness ended up blessing not just Joseph but those around him both near and far.
In India and Nepal there are physical challenges and victories for sure. A church building is destroyed in an earthquake. The pastor of the same church helps provide temporary housing for all 44 families in his village. A child loses their parents. The child is rescued and brought into a new home and family. A mother of four loses her husband and his source of income. She is given a small loan for a sewing machine and is able to provide for her family. Despite the insecurities of the unpredictable physical world, Jesus still comes to the rescue. And He is using you and me and others to accomplish His work.
Thank you for your faithful resolve to support pastors, children and families in India and Nepal. God is using it to propel His hope, life and peace.
May we focus on the spirit and walk in step with the Holy Spirit. May God grant us abundant life and peace, and may we be a blessing of life and peace to others. Amen.
Posted on June 19, 2015 |
Your contributions are making a significant difference in Nepal. Having just returned from there I know firsthand the value of the relief efforts you’re supporting through ServLife. So, I want to let you know how deeply appreciated you are by our partners in Nepal and the team here at ServLife International.
The devastation I saw on my brief visit is absolutely heartbreaking. Many times my hosts would point to a pile of rubble and tell me how many people died there. The recovery from this tragedy will take a very long time. But the recovery is well underway and your generosity is playing a key role for our children and church planters.
Pastor Kamal serves as a church planter in a remote village southeast of Kathmandu, which was entirely destroyed by the earthquake. He shared with us about his community’s predicament and his hopes as ServLife begins to build temporary housing for all 44 families in the village, 24 of whom are believers:
Earthquakes damaged our whole village. The entire village relocated to a new place. Even our Church was completely destroyed. No one could bring anything from home. We all lost our animals, foods, dishes and documents under the rubble of our houses. Government told us not to go to our village due to the huge rock falling from the mountain. All 44 families are now living together. Our village is very far from civilization. But the Lord has been gracious to us to meet our need: food, water and shelters even if it is temporary. We are very glad to know that ServLife is going to provide the shelter for our entire village.
This is just the beginning of a very long road to recovery. You have been faithful in sharing God’s resources for this effort and I want to let you know your gift is being used effectively for the sake of many. Thank you for your help. Please continue lifting up the people of Nepal in prayer during their long journey of recovery.
Posted on June 12, 2015 |
Pastor Gyan is a great example of the zeal and ambition exemplified by ServLife church planters. Gyan graduated from ServLife’s pastor training school in Kathmandu in 2011. He has since planted 5 churches in 4 years across 4 districts of Nepal. He also serves as a pastor at 5 more churches, traveling between all 10 every week to teach and encourage his flock of over 1,000 believers. Sometimes he walks miles to reach a church in the morning, only to repeat the feat to arrive at another church that night. Once there he will minister to the people, care for the sick, pray over the afflicted, and share the gospel with the community. This is no small task, especially since Gyan must still work a second job, farming a piece of land, in order to provide a livelihood for his family. He hopes that soon his congregations will be able to support his work as pastor, but despite the hard work Gyan is perpetually upbeat.
Through his ministry, Gyan has seen miraculous healings and changes of heart, not the least of which came in the form of a local political leader. Members of the Maoist political party are usually against Christian influence in Nepal, and can cause problems for local pastors if they are under their jurisdiction. The chairman of Gyan’s village council was a Maoist, however Gyan met him with love and kindness and eventually won the man over for Christ. God is opening the hearts and minds of the people Gyan meets and it is having an incredible impact.
Pastors like Gyan are the reason that the hope of the Gospel is reaching the darkest places of oppression and despair in Nepal. Remote villages that have never heard the Gospel are experiencing miracles of healing in body and soul.
You make these miracles possible through your support of pastors like Gyan. Thank you.
Posted on June 10, 2015 |
A Field Report From Assistant Director Tim Kurth In Nepal:
Yesterday was full of planning, hope and promise! Together with Director Udaya, I walked the grounds of the Nepal School of Engineering. There we saw students sharing their designs for inexpensive temporary housing. These shelters can be sourced locally and put up quickly and easily by volunteers or paid workers with almost no experience. This will be essential work since some estimates state these temporary structures will become homes to tens of thousands of people for two to five years – maybe longer – while the Nepali government decides how to rebuild permanently.
Today I met with Shyam, who owns a brick factory in Harisiddi. The very top of the factory’s chimney fell (literally) victim to the quake but the factory is still operational. We talked about how his bricks might be incorporated into temporary housing for ServLife communities.
Director Lazarus and I decided to do a test run on the temporary home design to see if we can set up an entire community for an affordable price. We settled on Pastor Kamal’s community in Ramechap District as our first test. His entire village was destroyed and, worse, is located under unstable rock so all 44 families have had to completely relocate.
We plan to buy homes for the entire village plus a community center for meetings. The homes can be erected in 2-4 hours and provide secure shelter and a solar panel for electricity. The total cost will be about $22,000, with the cost of each unit at $500. We met with the leader of the team that designed the house and he says he can have 44 units ready for delivery by the end of next week, and they can be delivered using only two trucks. The UN World Food Program is handling delivery logistics. ServLife is perfectly positioned through our partnerships to rebuild communities. I am very excited about moving forward.
Pray for Nepal.
Posted on May 30, 2015 |
A Field Report From Assistant Director Tim Kurth In Nepal:
The thousand-yard stare happens after a disaster. Not always right away, but it inevitably happens. It’s the look of people who can’t even begin to know where to start or how to make sense of their new reality. They live in tents, waiting on aid from strangers, and everyday make a little more progress in digging their lives out from under a pile of stone, mortar, bricks and wood that used to be home. And when the ground shakes as it has done over 250 times since that first quake on April 25, they run to open ground and wait for this disaster to get worse.
Many of the people we saw today had that unmistakable thousand-yard stare.
Our team was visiting Sindhupalchok District located about 60 kilometers north and east of Kathmandu. It was a long trip up winding, mountainous roads with stunning views of terraced hillsides and deep valleys. Yes, it was indescribably gorgeous…but for all the piles of rubble and bright orange tarps that kept reminding me of the terror that has happened here. All along the road sat mothers and fathers, children, siblings, and friends. Some picked through the piles that used to be their homes. Some even opened businesses inside structures zigzagged with the crazy fracture lines that are familiar in buildings all over this country.
In the midst of all this there is hope, too: Orderly aid workers distributing a truckload of food on a debris littered street, a pastor speaking about building a church on a plot he hopes to acquire, a family living under a tarp with a story of miraculous escape as the quake crumbled every building in their village. They tell that story with smiles and a glass of Sprite offered to a stranger who’s come to visit.
The glimpses of recovery are here. The hope of the human heart encouraged by God’s Holy Spirit is alive. The needs are real and the resources are coming slowly.
Pray for Nepal.
Posted on May 28, 2015 |
A Field Report From Assistant Director Tim Kurth In Nepal:
The immensity of this disaster in Nepal is beginning to take shape in my awareness and is full of the faces of people I met today. ServLife Director Udaya Bhatta invited a local Pastor, Padam, to come share with me. Pastor Padam’s church collapsed totally during the first quake on April 25. Sixteen people died inside the church under the weight of the concrete roof. One small boy died at the hospital from injuries sustained from a piece of steel rebar. Padam, Udaya and I discussed the hundreds of families still not reached with basic food supplies and considered a plan to visit there next week delivering food to 150 families.
Then came Bhaktapur. There the scope of this disaster began to make its impact on me. I was again reminded of the capricious and random nature of disasters. Until Bhaktapur the damage in Kathmandu did not seem as catastrophic as had been reported. But as I walked the narrow winding streets and passed the many temples and monuments of this area I realized no reporting could capture the horror of what happened here.
More than 500 people died in Bhaktapur alone. Buildings severely damaged by the quakes still hang perilously over the streets propped up by large wooden timbers. I couldn’t help but think that in the United States not a single person would be allowed in this area. Yet here a crowd walks between the support beams. Tucked away all around the area are tent cities and parks covered in makeshift tarp structures. Five thousand people in Bhaktapur are living outside in shelters that will do little to keep out the coming monsoons.
The immediate need for better temporary housing is pressing. The process of getting approval to rebuild permanently will take a very long time. Perhaps years! So the people of Bhaktapur are looking for help building temporary metal buildings at a cost of $500 per building.
Pray for Nepal.
Posted on May 27, 2015 |
Three weeks after the massive earthquake in Nepal on April 25, the board of ServLife sent Assistant Director Tim Kurth to Kathmandu. The purpose of the trip is to meet with our Nepali directors to support and help architect their plans for long term relief. Kurth’s 10 years of experience in relief work (training and certifying early responders, Hurricane Katrina, 2011 Joplin tornado, 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes, etc) uniquely equips him to partner with our leadership in Nepal. We will be posting some field reports from Kurth this week.
Flying low on final approach I could see beautiful dots of color scattered all over Kathmandu. Orange, blue, green all popped amidst an otherwise drab and dusty background. But as we got closer to the ground I realized these colored dots were the makeshift tents people now call home. These are a necessity for some because their homes were destroyed. For others, like the children in ServLife’s care, staying overnight inside a building is too frightening and with aftershocks continuing, probably unsafe.
At dusk, Children Ministry Director Udaya picked me up from the guest house and off we went on his motorcycle, riding in the gathering darkness through this broken city. Passing piles of rubble that just a month ago were homes and businesses. Trailing us was a taxi loaded with my checked luggage: three large tents.
We arrived just at nightfall to find the children all staying together in the Block B home having their dinner outside on the steps. Udaya grabbed the tents and together with the children we put up the first of the three. This tent went up so easily and with ample room for all the small children will be welcome shelter tonight. Tomorrow we will take down the makeshift tarps and poles they have been sleeping under and put up the other two tents. Everyone is so very excited. And it’s a blessing to be able to make things just a little better only hours after landing here in Nepal.
Pray for Nepal.
Posted on May 26, 2015 |