Friday night, I drafted a blog entry about Nepal because in less than four weeks, Sonia and I are scheduled to travel there on behalf of seeJesus. Our itinerary includes serving missionaries, pastors and churches in Kathmandu and Pokhara. So, you can imagine how shocked I was when I heard the epicenter of a massive earthquake was located in between both of those cities. I emailed my missionary contact in Nepal and was relieved to hear that Kate was fine and all of the missionaries in her organization were accounted for. I have never been to Nepal but have a greater affinity toward the country and the people as I have been studying and preparing for this trip. Obviously, my greatest concern at this time is not the trip but instead the welfare of the people and the hope of the gospel in their suffering. I am not exactly sure what I am thinking or feeling but for now, here is some of the information I was originally going to post about Nepal. Most of it is from Operation World (7th edition, 2010).
Geography: A mountainous Himalayan state between China (Tibet) and India. It contains 8 of the 10 highest mountain peaks in the world.
Peoples: As many as 100 ethnic groups, consisting of over 300 peoples, sub-groups and castes. Caste is often as important a distinction as ethnicity in this strongly Hindu culture.
Economy: One of the world’s poorest countries, with around one-third of the people living below the poverty line, on less than $1 US/Day. Agriculture occupies up to 90% of the population and accounts for 38% of the GDP.
Politics: The ancient and hereditary monarchy ended in 2008 as Nepal became a multiparty constitutional republic. Never ruled by colonial powers, Nepal’s political isolation from the outside world ended in 1951. In 1962, the king assumed executive power in a government system with no political parties. The 1990’s and 2000s were characterized by painful uncivil unrest. A Maoist-dominated government took office in 2008 after years of internal conflict. The prime minister resigned in 2010 and the government remains insolvent, and constitutional reform has been delayed.
Religion: Once the world’s only Hindu Kingdom, Nepal is not officially a secular democracy. Foreign religious NGOs can operate freely as long as they do no proselytize. Hindus (75%), Buddhist (16%), Muslim (4%), Christian (3%), Other (2%). Currently, the fastest growing Church in the world is Nepal’s. I will blog more about this in the near future.
Prayer: There is a 40-day global prayer initiative centered in Kathmandu that happens to be going on right now. In fact, we were possibly going to partner with them when we arrived. Pray for those involved with this movement as well as all the believers there. Pray that the 40-day initiative would continue with greater focus and that God would fulfill his sovereign plans through the laments of His people.
The following prayer requests are from INF, the organization that I am scheduled to partner with in Nepal:
- for the quick rescue of all of those trapped and injured, comfort for those who have lost loved ones and shelter for those without homes
- that, as clouds are gathering, rain will not exacerbate the situation
- for safety for those who will be spending the night outside
- for God’s peace for all those with loved ones in Nepal
- for the leaders of INF as they assess the impact on our staff, volunteers, patients and the communities we work with
- for the government of Nepal as it responds to this crisis