‘And with tears in my eyes…’

“Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslave them.”

This verse from Ezekiel 34:27 was pretty much the first thing I read on return from my recent visit to Nepal. I recall looking up at a colleague, and with tears in my eyes, saying ‘I have seen this with my own eyes’.

One of INF’s newer work areas is in a district called Bajura. Bajura District is the poorest of Nepal’s 75 Districts, and one of the poorest places on the whole of the earth.

The headline statistics make grim reading:

Nearly half of children will die before their 5th birthday
Maternal mortality is 458 deaths per 100,000 (in the UK it’s 10 per 100,000).
Most families are only able to produce enough food for 3-6 months each year
To survive, menfolk migrate to India to do the most menial and dangerous of jobs
The practice of Chhaupadi – sending women to live in the cow shed during their menstrual cycle – is still widely practiced. Women also give birth in cow sheds, where they stay for 11 days if it’s a boy, and longer for a girl. Is it any wonder so many women and children die?

Then there is the caste system. A third of people are ‘Dalits’, the poorest of the poor, often referred to as ‘untouchables’. Dalits are not allowed to enter temples, touch food at common gatherings, or use public taps. They are often beaten by upper-caste people, and many live in modern forms of slavery and bonded labour. Few have land or farm animals, and are hardest hit by the shortage of food.

And Christians? When we started work five years ago there were just seven Christians in a District population of 135,000.

In Luke 4 Jesus says:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

I saw these words being fleshed out:

Women proudly told me that they no longer practiced Chhuapadi
The mortality rate for children and mothers has reduced by over 50%
300 families now have enough food for 12 months
A further 300 families have sufficient for more than 6 months

“How do we react to adversity?”

photo of John Reynolds

John Reynolds

Thank you St John’s family for your continued support for me, our family, and the International Nepal Fellowship – we love you all dearly.

Like anyone else’s work, mission work has downs and ups. I am hoping the ‘up’ will not just be a point of praise, but will also leave you pondering what your response would have been.

The ‘down’ is that INF is experiencing a down-turn in funds for its work in Nepal, which has resulted in redundancies for 90 Nepali workers. In November I travel to Nepal for a series of leadership meetings as we plan for the next five years. Pray for wisdom and courage at this time to make good decisions.

On the upside I was very blessed a couple of weeks ago when Suntali’s story crossed my desk.

This is how she told it to Ruth Russell, our palliative care doctor: ‘I came to INF’s Green Pastures Hospital, in Pokhara for leprosy treatment.

“Another INF programme, Partnership for Rehabilitation, also helped me with training for work and a place to stay. I have two children, but no other family support at all – my husband died in an accident years ago.

“I was receiving treatment at Green Pastures when my cancer was diagnosed. I was very sick. I thought I would die very soon. I have no family apart from my young children, but God gave me caring staff and church friends.

“God has blessed me abundantly. I could not afford cancer treatment, and so I would have died leaving my children wandering the streets alone. Because of my leprosy, I have had cancer treatment through INF and good palliative care.

“God has also provided my children with security and a future, as they have somewhere to live [a nearby Christian hostel run by a local organisation].

Suntali concluded :”God knew what He was doing when he gave me leprosy – it was so He could bless me and my children abundantly, so we can trust Him for the future too.”

So I have a question for you:

‘How do we react to adversity?

‘Are we absorbed by the intensity of it, or can we see God behind the immediate, and recognise He continues to care for us despite adversity?’

John is the UK Director of the INF – International Nepal Fellowship which is based in Birmingham.  www.inf.org

John was last featured in June 2013.

Today hope has come to Mugu

photo of John Reynolds

John Reynolds

The recent visit to Nepal by the St John’s Youth Group was a big encouragement for the International Nepal Fellowship and the young people of Ramghat Church, Pokhara. Can I encourage C Groups and other groups to invite one or more of the team members to share their experiences?

Naomi Robertson shared at our Pathfinder cell group and this personal approach enabled us to hear more of the ways in which individuals had encountered God during their visit.

Bajura District in the far West of Nepal is the next challenge for INF. It is one of the remotest and poorest, as well as one of the most disadvantaged and neglected districts in Nepal. In real terms, life is lived close to the margin of survival. It is also a serious food-deficit area. There are no churches in this area, and God has called INF to serve here.

Just over 10 years ago INF was called to a similarly disadvantaged district Mugu – remote, no churches, and its people living in abject poverty with no hope. A motivating scripture was John 1 v 5. “Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Today hope has come to Mugu.
Opportunities for health and education are slowly growing and individuals and families are coming to faith. There are now about ten churches established in the district.

Pray that the light of Jesus will shine in Bajura too, and that its people will respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Working in remote places requires special staff; individuals who are prepared to live at a basic level. Individuals with a sense of mission for the gospel as well as the technical skills needed from a development perspective. Pray for this need and pray that God will supply the need for more funding.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me personally since my heart scare a while back. I really appreciate the loving family of St John’s. You are great!