When I was preparing to go to Nepal, I heard on various occasions that the Nepali church is the fastest growing in the world today. Nepal?!? Really?!? I did some research and found out the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, based at Gordon Conwell Seminary, published a study that reported that the Nepali church is indeed growing at the fastest rate in the world. Reverend Manoj Shrestha, former principal of the Nepal Ebenezer Bible College, reported the same thing saying,
The only reason I can think of [for the growth of the Nepali church] is the work of the Holy Spirit…If you come to Nepal, you will see many similarities between the church in Nepal and the first century church as described in the Book of Acts — in the religious life of the people, how the church is being persecuted, the excitement of the believers, how the power of God is being demonstrated through healings, exorcisms
When I told my missionary friend in Nepal about what I heard, she said based on what she’s seen, she wouldn’t be surprised if this true. Based on my limited experience with the Nepali church, I wouldn’t be surprised either. I have heard first-hand testimony after testimony about the rapid growth of the church through the preaching of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.
First church in Kathmandu
This past Saturday, Sonia and I attended worship service at the oldest church in Kathmandu and the second oldest in all of Nepal. The Gyaneswor Church was started by pioneer missionary and pastor, Robert Karthak. Raised in Darjeeling, Karthak felt a strong call to go to Nepal and in 1956, moved there with a small group of believers. Gyaneswor Church was planted a year later. Today, the church meets at five locations around Kathmandu with over 10,000 total in attendance. The largest site has multiple services with 2,000 attendees at each. We had the privilege of visiting the original site which was much smaller. Sonia and I were sitting very close together so we could share a wireless headset for English translation. After I settled into my seat, I realized all of the women were sitting on the left side of the room and all of the men were on the right. I was on the left and felt so embarrassed. There was no room to move so I was just praying that everyone would think I was a really big, ugly, hairy woman.
Pastor Robert is now 89 years old and rotates every week to preach at each of the sites. On the Saturday we attended, he happened to be there. Not surprisingly, he was a great preacher! Pastor Robert shared that the last time he was at this particular site, it was the day of the earthquake. He was preaching that if Jesus is in the boat with you then you don’t have to worry about anything, not even natural disasters! Five minutes later, the earthquake hit and the people in the sanctuary didn’t panic but left in an orderly fashion. A children’s class that was meeting outside had some metal siding and bricks fall on them but fortunately, all the kids were OK. Pastor Robert went on to preach through nearly a dozen texts that refer to the earth shaking but his primary text was Hebrews 12:25-29,
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
The sermon was primarily focused on the sovereignty of God in all circumstances and he saw the earthquake as a wake up call for the church to share the gospel in both word and deed in an even greater way. Wow! If the Nepali church was already the fastest growing in the world before the quake and this is the message now being preached, it puts the rest of the global church, especially in America, to shame!
I had the privilege of meeting for tea and snacks with Pastor Robert and some of the elders in a small room immediately following the service. He is a gracious man that exudes wisdom and faith. It was like meeting John Piper, Tim Keller or Billy Graham in person but waaaaaay better. Kathak’s English is excellent so it was inspiring to hear from him and his brother-in-law (also an elder) how the seeds of the church were planted nearly 60 years ago by faith. I asked them why they thought the church was growing at such a rapid rate. Their answer, “the movement of the Holy Spirit.” Funny, same answer as Reverend Manoj Shrestha. It’s all about God and His glory. It’s by Him, through Him and for Him. All praise and honor to Him!