If you were to ask Good Friends of Nepal director, Bhim Lal Tamang, what the primary purpose of the organization is, he would quickly and undoubtedly respond that the goal is to share the gospel message with all of Nepal. It is a message with eternal power that GFN seeks to share with as many people as possible, and the ability to share that comes in a variety of forms.
In the months following the earthquake, Good Friends of Nepal has been deeply involved in the distribution of long-term shelter such as tin roofs. Bhim Lal and his team travel to remote villages that have been decimated by the earthquake to help those who have not been reached. In July, I travelled to Nepal to spend time with Bhim Lal and to see the work the GFN is doing in the country. Though driving in Nepal can take a long time, it gave me the opportunity to talk to Bhim Lal and to hear his incredible stories as both he and his organization work in incredibly remote areas.
As we drive towards a remote village, I ask him how people respond to his deliveries of relief supplies, especially those who may not have
heard the gospel message. His response shows me the holistic work that GFN is doing to promote recovery in the region, as he says he not only views relief materials as mere practical goods, but also as a way to share God’s message, and most importantly His great love.
Gift-giving in Nepal is steeped in a different culture than what we know and experience here in North America. Gift-giving in Nepal is a culture that requires for every gift to have a return on it. The concept of simply giving a gift is unusual in Nepal, as many who give gifts expect something in return. This comes from several of the other religions being practiced in the country, as many gifts given come with the expectation that the receiver will then bless the giver that they will have many blessings in the afterlife.
Christians have a long history of being countercultural and the distribution of earthquake relief for Bhim Lal is no different. As they travel to the villages of Nepal, they hand out gifts with no expectation of any return, these are gifts given out of love and compassion. It provides a unique opportunity for witness as those who receive the gifts are often overcome with emotion that it is simply a gift to them.
GFN doesn’t look at the tin roofs as only a practical tool, but also as a chance to show God’s unconditional love to a country where unconditional love is not commonly known. In a discussion with Bhim Lal he remarks, “For the Nepalese Churches, it is a privilege to demonstrate God’s real love to the people of Nepal even after such a tragedy. As we were working in the villages I encountered
both christians and non-christians and I said to them that these gifts are out of love, they are all from God and that he tells us to do this, it is a free gift. So when I said that to them, it is beyond their thinking, they could not imagine and I could see how thankful they were.”
During our conversation, Bhim Lal shares the story of distributing long-term relief supplies in a village mostly populated by Hindus. One of the people that he passed out supplies to was a Hindu priest. As he handed him supplies, the priest thanked Bhim Lal profusely and promised him that he would ask for Bhim Lal to be heavily blessed in the afterlife. Bhim Lal politely refused the offer, instead telling him “My afterlife is already assured in Jesus Christ. I give you these gifts out of love, the same love that Christ showed for us when he died on the cross.”
It is in moments such as these where God is clearly seen to be moving in Nepal. The priest was shaken by Bhim Lal’s message, as it was so counter-cultural and beyond the norm. As we travel, Bhim Lal shares that this is not an uncommon experience during his work.
Though he doesn’t say it, I can tell the opportunity to share the love of God that he has felt with others is among his favourite things to do. His stories constantly remind me of 1 John 4:16 – “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. It is amazing to see the way God works in this world, and a great honour to be able to meet the men and women that so bravely proclaim His name.
Please join us in continuing to pray for Good Friends of Nepal as they continue to share the message of Christ with Nepal.