I promised a sequel about the Moderator’s trip to Nepal…
What does one with such a title do on such a trip? Well, it can only be to have the time of one’s life. One did! It was a complete and utter delight – a refreshing work and manic holiday all rolled into a crazy schedule based on a new concept to me – ‘Nepali time’. The concept being – ‘time doesn’t matter, but people do’ I liked it – mostly!
The cast? Me, Catriona and Ross (the other Lamont reps), Rosy Fraser our trusted companion, the Kasula’s (Suraj, Roshani and the delightful Hadassah) and our faithful Sherpa driver, Nema.
So, we awoke at 5:30 am to see the sunrise, then we had a three hour church service, a two hour ride and walk up a mountain to reach a sweet pool of very cold mountain water to do three baptisms, several twelve hour journeys by jeep with eight passengers on roads like the surface of the moon with cliff edges, overtaking around blind bends. Time? I felt close to Eternity on several occasions. Day 1 – Almost!
[Image: Rev. Suraj Kasula and Family]
It was a real privilege for me to preach at Shekinah Evangelical church in Bhaktapur, an ancient city beside Kathmandu, where Suraj and Nishan jointly pastor. 60 or 70 adults and kids sitting on the floor, praising God, learning from God’s Word. I spoke to the kids and preached. Suraj translated. Time didn’t matter.
The baptisms later on that first day were a highlight. Three young Nepalese adults committed their lives to Christ as Lord – a privilege to witness and participated in. The following morning at 7 am I spoke to the students at the Bhaktapur Theological Seminary (they study before heading to work – ETS take note) about the life and ministry of Thomas Guthrie, and then met and prayed with various church leaders from the area before baptising Hadassah. Another Moderator was there belonging to the Nepal Presbyterian Alliance – he was smaller and older than me, but much better dressed. And he prayed bi-lingually. I felt inadequate.
[Image: Rev. Derek Lamont baptising a recent convert in Suraj's congregation]
One of our long journeys took us to the daughter church being planted in Morang, the far east of Nepal, a small village 400 km from Bhaktapur. It was so encouraging to meet Adam and his family – the young man set aside to lead the church plant and to know that a donation from St Columba’s of just over £1000 would help pay the majority of his salary for a year. What an opportunity for churches in Scotland, with relatively little financial sacrifice, to meaningfully support similar work in Nepal or elsewhere.
On either side of that visit, we saw some of the beauty of Nepal – with roadside perspectives, then stunning views from mountain roads admiring the Himalayan ranges. We walked among tea plantations in Ilam, near the Indian Border, sat on elephants in Chitwan National Park, and soared on wings like eagles paragliding near Pokhara. It was awesome.
The trip was special, not primarily for the beauty of the country – it was. Nor for the amazing experiences we enjoyed – we really did. It was special because of our hosts and the company we shared. We were treated royally. Suraj and family, as well as their church fellowship, made us so welcome, they loved us and cared for us. Suraj was our guide, our friend and brother, and the inspiration behind the trip. And Roshani’s Pakoras? To die for.
It is not easy work they do. Suraj is building a team, training young men to lead, seeing people come to Christ, disciplining them, planting churches, developing a theological seminary, looking to rebuild a bigger church building, making a home and raising a family. He is doing so in a predominantly Hindu country, recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2015. He works hard, with tremendous enthusiasm, joy and laughter, a love for people, a clear vision and a powerful dependence on God and His Spirit. He loves Scotland and the Free Church and craves our prayers and support. I hope we will do so. The visit was our privilege – we received more than we could ever have taken over, and the memories will last long in the heart.
‘Until we meet again, our friends.’
Rev. Derek Lamont
Related Article: https://freechurch.org/news/moderator-visits-heid-the-ba-pastor