Surprised by hope . . .
￼Grace & peace to you,
That wonderful greeting, used in a number of the Apostle Paul’s letters to fledgling churches, captures in a minimum of words the character of our standing in Christ Jesus; grace and peace. It’s a place of God’s loving favor upon us in total contrast to our just desserts. And, it’s a place of peace in a world in which peace is mostly a distant dream. Grace and peace; this is our prayer and our hope for you in this new season.
Previously at ServLife . . .
a couple of months back when I first wrote to you in my new role as Executive Director, I mentioned that I would soon be travelling to visit our people and work in both India and Nepal. That visit is now in the books. I arrived back to the U.S. a week ago after nearly a month of living on the road and out of a suitcase. It’s good to be home; when do I get to go again!
This trip was essential both for the ServLife staff in India and Nepal and for me. Truth be told, last year was a tumultuous time for everyone connected with the mission. The time I was able to spend with our staff provided an opportunity for all of us to listen to one another’s story and to feel one another’s pain and confusion over all that has transpired. The good news is that we all found a way through that pain and confusion to emerge together on the other side in a place of new relationship and renewed commitment to our calling to the least, the last and the lost. It’s no exaggeration to say that we were all surprised . . . by hope for what God will yet do through us.
I want to give you just a few of the highlights of that time which will also serve as something of an update on what is now going on in ServLife.
A new beginning in Raxaul, India . . .
After arriving in Kathmandu I quickly caught a domestic flight to Simara located in what is known as the Tarai of southern Nepal. There I was met by Albert Das of ServLife India. From that tiny airport we made the 1-1/2 hour
drive to the Nepal-India border. It’s really quite a scene with nearly every form of transportation imaginable; pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws, pedal rickshaws, horse carts, ox carts, motorbikes, cars, buses, trucks and more, all vying for the same limited space on the dusty highway. Picture that!
Raxaul lies just over the border in India. It is, literally, the end of the line in India. On the other hand, you might say it’s the beginning. It is, in fact, the beginning point of ServLife’s ministry in India. Raxaul is home to the Das family and ServLife Empowering Society and its children’s home (30 children), the ServLife Mission School ( 20 more kids), and the church planter training program (72 workers deployed across India, Nepal and Bangladesh).
These days Albert is most excited that work is nearing completion on the first of three purpose built buildings which will accommodate all those ministries. ServLife India is still needing funds in the amount of $8,000 to complete the work on the interior of that first building. After that Albert and family and the children and schools will move from rented facilities to the new property while work continues on the other buildings.
Going to Kathmandu . . .
Following the time in Raxaul I backtracked to Kathmandu. While I’ve spent the last 30 years living and working in Asia this was my first time in Nepal. Not sure why it took so long. I’ve loved everywhere I’ve ever lived during that time but the entire time I was in Kathmandu I had a feeling that if I’d landed in Nepal earlier in my journey I might have remained there for the long haul. Whatever, I’m just glad we’re involved in this nation at a time when the gospel is making such an impact.
In Nepal ServLife is primarily working through two local initiatives. The first, Himalayan Development (HD), is led by Lazarus Thulung. HD is focused on the training and sending of church planters into the remote and far-flung villages of Nepal. At the present time we have 41 workers on the ground and 43 churches. That group will be bolstered by another 12 workers later this year following their training. We’ve got the gospel, humble leadership, a well-conceived plan and committed workers. Already fruit is being born. We are also planning to move ahead with the Hope Fund project. This micro-lending initiative to alleviate poverty is being done in villages where we are already at work planting the church. In a perfect world the Hope Fund would be in every village where we are working. Actually, in a perfect world the Hope Fund would not be needed but we are quite a ways from perfect so we are striving to help more families in real need. Our only limitation is available funds. Perhaps you would like to help?
The final piece of our picture, AS Nepal, is devoted to the care of orphans and other children-at-risk. At the present time we have three children’s homes caring for 32 children. I had an opportunity to listen to many of their stories during my visit. All are heartbreaking and many almost unbelievable. The scripture makes it no secret of God’s determined care for the orphans and most vulnerable among us. We are privileged to be serving these children in Jesus’ name. What joy to see lives changed and surprised by hope! In addition to these we are also sponsoring 123 children of the poor for education that they otherwise would never be able too afford. Still more hope!
The last word . . .
I remarked to someone just yesterday that this trip was the most hopeful thing I’ve experienced in mission in many years. Thanks for the opportunity to share it with you. And now the opportunity is yours to join us in nothing less than changing our piece of the world in Jesus’name and for his Kingdom.
Together in hope,