Risk-taking in Nepal
For years, the people of Nepal have endured numerous natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and landslides. These events damage communities and leave people in a constant state of reconstruction. Although the Nepalese government has tried to take a proactive approach to disaster preparedness, they have made little progress. The country remains prone to natural disasters, and development in Nepal is stagnant.
Recently, flooding in South Asia destroyed areas of Nepal and has left many homeless and without food. Thankfully, our partners on the ground have responded to affected communities and are currently providing relief to those in need.
Local leaders at Good Friends of Nepal (GFN) work tirelessly, at high personal risk, to reach unreached people groups and meet their physical and spiritual needs. Bhim-Lal Tamang, the Director of GFN, shared with us his experiences of mission work during the rainy season, the daily dangers local leaders face in Nepal this time of year and the current conditions in the country after recent flooding.
The rainy season in Nepal makes mission work incredibly risky. What are some of the daily dangers that local leaders face at this time of year in Nepal?
The rainy season affects every aspect of our life here in Nepal. On the one hand, it can be extremely challenging, but on the other hand, it is a crucial season of cultivation for farmers to make a living. Most of the agriculture in the Himalayan and hill region depends on rainwater, especially for Nepalese rice farmers.
Because of the geography and soil in areas of Nepal, it is risky and challenging for the people living here. The rainy season makes mission work incredibly dangerous too. During rainfalls dirt roads throughout the mountains become incredibly slick. Vehicles can have tremendous difficulty gaining tire traction and face the constant risk of sliding right off of the mountainside. Often there are springs or even small waterfalls that come down the mountains and pour over the roads washing entire sections away. The hill area is also hazardous because of landslides, falling stones, muddy roads and frequent flooding. On top of that visibility is compromised because of thick clouds, rain and fog. These conditions make it very hard to travel to different communities for outreach. In the rainy season there is also an increase in the number of poisonous snakes along and mosquitoes in the area put many at risk of contracting malaria. In valleys, the rivers swell and can wash out and flood roads and highways making it impossible to pass.
Local leaders face their fears daily as they travel this treacherous terrain and live in remote villages. They also navigate the difficulties of meeting with people throughout the rainy season, who are all very busy cultivating their crops. If you ask any of our workers they will have shocking stories to tell of how God spared their lives traveling in Nepal.
What are the current conditions in the region after the recent flooding in Nepal?
Right now nearly 200,000 people have been affected by the monsoon flooding. Some families have left their communities and are staying with relatives but others have nowhere to go. Currently, 80,000 people are lacking food and proper housing and are in great need of assistance. Families have lost most of their possessions and crops. The death toll in Nepal remains at 78, but individuals are still missing. Rescue efforts have come to a close, and now our focus is on providing relief to meet people’s critical needs.
The most severe flooding occurred in Terai, a lowland region of southern Nepal. Medical assistance is a main priority as mosquitoes are a significant issue in this region, putting people at risk of malaria and other diseases. We have received reports of incidents where poisonous snakes were found in people’s homes as well. Some people living in these areas have sustained snake bites as a result and need immediate medical attention.
Through all of this, we are hopeful. Our involvement in rescue and relief has allowed us to show our people the love of God. As a result, the church in Nepal continues to grow in number.
What are some of the things local leaders are willing to do to persevere these weather conditions and carry out the ministry’s work?
Local leaders at GFN are willing to do anything necessary to serve their people. For example, they travel in dangerous conditions to reach a community to share the gospel and care for victims of a natural disaster, risking their lives daily. Our local leaders desire to serve others in love and care to show people that they are valued by God. Helping others in need has been transformative in Nepal, and every opportunity to show His love is worth the risk.
What is an amazing story that you can share from the field?
Flooding occurred in Nepal’s midwest Bank district some time ago, and the Rapti River flooded several villages, namely Fattepur, Rampur, Laxmanpur and Gangapur. We had a small fellowship at the time in Fattepur. When the flooding occurred, a few Christian families helped rescue non-Christian families who were very much opposed to Christianity. GFN brought relief supplies to both Christian and non-Christian communities in need. The impact that we had among the non-Christan families was tremendous, and many families were deeply touched by the care they received and came to the Lord. The church in Fattepur now has a growing number of believers, and as a result, we have two other churches in Laxmanpur and Gangapur. We praise God for what He has done through this small effort.
The efforts of GFN local leaders in these treacherous regions of Nepal are nothing short of courageous. Rain or shine, their daily risk-taking to aid and engage vulnerable, unreached people groups are bringing about transformation.