Last year the Indian Rupee and Nepali Rupee values dropped dramatically by 17% at their lowest point, the lowest in 15 years. This is a by-product of the trade war between the United States and China, and creates an added challenge for the poorest of the poor in remote villages.
The result is that India and Nepal’s economies will likely be slowing down and the cost of imports will skyrocket. This is increasing the cost of goods which is the biggest impact for families already struggling in villages.
Low skill labor jobs in tourism are among the highest valued in Nepal. For example, a nurse in Kathmandu makes around $140 a month, and a teacher makes about $120 a month while a tour bus driver makes $400 a month. Nepalis skilled in a certain trade or educated in a particular field are able to make more money abroad, which is what many do.
These fiscal challenges make ServLife’s microfinance program all the more critical. Last year there were 99 families in the program, and there are plans to launch in more villages this year. With most families increasing their annual revenue by 250% in the first year, the small business loans are providing hope and opportunity.
Families like Narayan’s have seen a fast and tangible increase in revenue while the value of the rupee declines. Narayan was able to purchase two yaks and sell butter, and his business was profitable enough that he was able to support his family and pay off his loan ahead of schedule. Thirty-eight more families in the village also benefited from the loan and as a result the community has flourished.
“Before microfinance, people were poor,” Narayan shares. “They didn’t have money but after microfinance, they have money now. They can take care of their families.” As the value of the rupee decreases, we hope to see more families like Narayan’s thrive and increase their revenue.
Posted on January 18, 2019 |
There is enough. There always has been. God created this world with an abundance of resources and imbued ingenuity. And yet, I often feel like there isn’t enough. There isn’t enough time, enough money, enough emotional capacity, enough help… I am quick to adopt a scarcity mindset, and then everything is in competition.
At the beginning of his gospel, John writes that the Word already existed and brought everything into being. This Word took flesh in the form of Jesus, and “from his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” (John 1:16 NLT)
In the midst of troubling times, Emmanuel is with us. Through financial challenges, Jehovah-jireh provides for us. When we are broken and hurting, Jehovah-rapha brings healing. In the middle of chaos, Jehovah-shalom brings peace. When we are weak, Elohim shows himself strong. No matter the situation, God provides grace and blessing over and over again.
I pray that you live into God’s blessings and provision this year. We are blessed to be a blessing to others, and I’m grateful for your generous support of God’s work around the world. Because of your blessings, children are able to attend school, pastors are able to start and sustain new churches, and families are learning to make a living wage.
May we embrace a posture and practice of abundance. And may God reveal Himself to us as Elohim, Jehovah-shalom, Jehovah-rapha, Jehovah-jireh and the Great Emmanuel.
Posted on January 11, 2019 |
“We don’t have many churches in Nepal, and only a few people hear about the gospel, so that is why we need to train people.” Nepal Director Bekharaj is driven and passionate about church planting as leaders try to keep up with the rapid 10% annual growth of Christianity in Nepal. The goal is not just more churches, but sustainable, healthy growth of thriving churches. Bekharaj shares, “We need to build leaders so that the church will be strong, so that the church will be healthy.”
At the end of last year, ServLife’s Pastor Training School graduated fourteen students who have now returned to their remote villages to pastor their local church.“ServLife is providing the training to equip people in the word of God,” Bekharaj shares.
The training also includes a focus on evangelism, shepherding the congregation, discipleship, and vocational training. Each graduate is given a business grant to launch a side business so they are sustainable from the very beginning.
“Our desire is not to build our kingdom or ServLife’s kingdom,” Bekharaj exclaims.
“Our desire is building the kingdom of God. We want to see God’s name glorified in this earth.”
Posted on January 1, 2019 |
This November 2018 ServLife’s Donor Relations Coordinator Heather Reid joined a team to travel to Nepal and conduct a two-day children’s program in Kathmandu and west Nepal. Heather shares her story below.
This past November, I went on my third trip to Nepal along with seven people who would become my fast friends. This trip opened our eyes to see what God is doing in another country. My team member Jodi McKenna described it as “an opportunity to go to the opposite side of the world, be changed forever, and have relationships that matter.” Over the course of 11 days, we visited the pastor training school, met the 300 children in ServLife’s sponsorship program, and enjoyed fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ from many different backgrounds.
At the beginning of the trip, we took a tour of the pastor training school. We met the pastors-in-training, learned about their spiritual and vocational education, encouraged them in their mission, and heard amazing stories about pastors from previous training school sessions who had planted churches. On one of the last days of the trip, we got to watch the 14 trainees graduate and be commissioned. Then immediately after the ceremony, we took the new pastors to the bus stop from which they were going to their home villages to start new churches. It was energizing as Christians to watch the pastors go out to push boundaries and take the Gospel to new frontiers.
Spending time with the kids in the homes and schools was another very special experience for us. We put on a program similar to an American Vacation Bible School that included lessons, skits, games, crafts, and songs. Many of the participants were able to meet their sponsor child. During the program we put on, we helped the kids write letters to their sponsors. Jodi recalls a girl coming up to her asking for help reading her sponsor’s letter and writing her own. When she saw the letter with its pictures, she immediately recognized her best friend and her family, so Jodi had the pleasure of helping this girl write a letter to her best friend.
At times, it felt like there wasn’t enough time or space or supplies or like we weren’t able to communicate our message to the kids, but ultimately God’s grace was sufficient to cover anything we lacked. We had so much fun with the kids in Kathmandu and West Nepal. We came away captivated by the sense of family that existed at the children’s home, not just among the kids, but from the adults who love and care for them.
Jodi summed it up, “Going overseas really gives you a bigger picture of what God is doing in His kingdom as a whole. And it was powerful. This is something that is going to impact the rest of my life and I want more people to know about it and experience it.”
Posted on December 21, 2018 |
The Advent season is the arch of the story of humanity. It is the beginning of our redemption as the human race. We once were in darkness, weighed down by our own sin, but then a Savior came in the most humble of forms. I see such redemption in the lives of Sujata and Kul.
When Sujata’s mom died, she lost her support system that loved and cared for her. When she first came to the ServLife home in Kathmandu, she was shy and reserved. Now Sujata is the darling of her home. Her physical needs are being met, she is getting an education, and she is a part of a big family that loves her deeply.
Kul used to be skeptical of God’s existence. Even after he accepted Jesus into his heart, he tried to run away from God’s calling on his life. Health complications brought Kul to a place of obedience, and he accepted God’s calling to be a pastor and start a church in his home village. Over 60 people started attending his church in the first year. Kul has a successful side business and his health has greatly improved.
These redemption stories, like the birth of Jesus, are humbling and hope-inspiring, but they are only the beginning. The hope of Jesus is that the best is yet to come. I believe this to be true for Sujata, Pastor Kul, and for us.
Posted on December 14, 2018 |
Kul moved to Kathmandu to find work after Nepal’s civil war. His neighbor was a Christian and invited him to church. Initially, Kul was skeptical of all religions, but through persistence he agreed to go to church at least once. Three months after his first visit to church, he accepted Jesus into his heart.
In his first year of being a Christian, God called Kul to become a pastor back in his village. Kul knew that the life of a pastor would be a difficult one and he would face opposition. He chose to flee God’s call and moved to Qatar. When Jonah fled God’s calling, he wound up in the belly of a whale; for Kul, God put a sickness in his belly. His health worsened to the point where he couldn’t go to work every day. Kul finally accepted God’s call to be a pastor and moved back to Nepal. He trained to be a pastor with ServLife in Kathmandu, and his stomach sickness was healed.
After launching his church back in his home village, over 60 people are attending in the first year. He has a family, a business, and his health has improved. God transformed this skeptic into a pastor that is leading people to Christ, and his health and church are thriving.
Posted on November 16, 2018 |
As a worship pastor in the 2000’s I loved leading the congregation in anthem praise of the Creator and Sustainer. We’d turn out the lights, light some candles, pack the room and sing at the top of our lungs. It was amazing, but it was missing something. I was missing something. God led me to the minor prophets where He declares, “take away the noise of your songs… let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:23a-24 CEB). God doesn’t care about our worship on Sunday if we are not living a life of justice on Monday. This was particularly convicting for me as I was the one leading these worship songs, yet I had little engagement in God’s Kingdom justice in the world. Now don’t get me wrong, God loves us no matter what. But He doesn’t love all our activities, and if we are not in right relationship with other humans (justice), then we cannot expect to have right relationship with God and express that through worship. God drove home this revelation deep into my heart through Matthew 25, 1 John, Isaiah 58, Micah 6:8 and more.
I have a lot to learn about the intersection of worship and justice, and I’ve been on an investigative, experiential path ever since that moment. I’ve had my eyes open to issues of extreme poverty, sex trafficking, lack of fresh water and more. It’s been overwhelming. But it’s also led to a series of justice experiments including increasing awareness about human trafficking issues and sex slavery, giving money to provide fresh water wells to 294 people in Ethiopia, raising money for slaves to be rescued in India, going on a trip to India to encourage 64 local pastors, starting a nonprofit focused on basic human needs, and eventually shifting my vocational path to be more involved with God’s work in India and Nepal. Through these justice experiments I found theologian Frederick Buechner’s quote coming alive for me, “The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger coincide.”
Thank you for modeling a life of God’s justice, grace and love by investing in His Kingdom come. Through your support, partnership and leadership, pastors are being trained to start churches in villages where there is no church. Children are now able to get a solid education. Families are starting small businesses and experiencing hope for the first time. Your investment is having a ripple effect and lives are being transformed every day.
May we continue to grow in our worship beyond liturgy and song, and truly “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is our true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1b NIV).
Posted on October 19, 2018 |
Three years ago was a time of turmoil for Nepal. From the severe earthquake in April to supply shortages caused by a politically motivated blockade, every person was affected in some way. Sujata was no exception. She found her new home with ServLife after her mother was killed during the earthquake. My family and I have been sponsoring her since she arrived as a 2 year old and over these past three years we have been able to watch her grow.
Sujata is around the same age as my oldest daughter Lucy and it’s been a joy to see their lives change in parallel. Lucy started kindergarten this year and Sujata is getting an education as well. They are both starting their school journey and growing up in a family that loves Jesus and is leading them to follow in His footsteps. I’m excited to see what God has waiting for them in these next three years.
There’s never been a better time this year to make a gift to support children like Sujata, as all donations to ServLife this month are being matched up to $50,000. Please join me and make a gift today at servlife.org/100/ and double your impact around the world!
Posted on October 15, 2018 |
My 95 year-old grandma passed away at the end of last month, and it has hit me harder than I expected. She was an amazing role model and the matriarch of our family. She had the elegance of a queen and treated everyone like royalty. Her retirement was anything but, as she daily served her church and family. As her church transitioned from hymns to rock choruses, and an old, traditional building to a new modern building, she was leading the charge and continued to serve in the children’s ministry until she was no longer able.
Her life was marked by service because of the transformational love of Jesus. At her funeral, I sang these words from her favorite hymn, “Since I met this blessed Savior, since He cleansed and made me whole, I will never cease to praise Him, I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.” Her very life shouted this praise, and I want to follow in her footsteps.
I am convinced that everyone needs to meet this blessed Savior, and only He can make us whole. Thank you for joining ServLife in sharing the hope and restorative love of Jesus around the world. Your generous service has helped start new churches, send children to school and provide small business loans for families. Your support and service is a shout of praise and an investment in God’s kingdom.
May we live in grateful service to our Savior, and never cease to shout his praises through our life and lips.
Posted on September 21, 2018 |
As many of you are getting back into the routine of a new school year, our pastoral training and equipping school is also underway. This year, fourteen students ages 22 to 42 are training to become pastors and launch new churches in remote villages throughout Nepal.
Every year ServLife hosts a pastor training school for three months to prepare the soon-to-be pastors for leading a congregation, teaching, preaching, and other responsibilities that come with being the spiritual head of a church.
We are excited to be growing the kingdom by partnering with such dedicated Christians. These pastors are on the cutting edge of the fastest growing extension of the body of Christ. Continue to pray for spiritual strength for these pastoral students.
Posted on August 31, 2018 |