Capacity Building in Nepal
Our partner the National Council of Churches in Nepal has been holding capacity building programs for church leaders around the country. They have found, however, that it isn’t just the church leaders who come. Church members and whole congregations come because they are eager to hear and know what it means to be a Christian in a multi religious society. Many of them have been converted by fundamentalists who teach that Christians must not associate with people of other faiths. They teach that Christians are exclusivist and that Christians do not participate in cultural or political aspects of life in society. NCCN emphasizes the contrary – that the Christian is to be the salt and the light of the world – and encourages participation in society and national life. A capacity building event was held in March of 2007 on the theme of “The Church’s Role in Nation Building”. There was participation from not only the Christian community, but also the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Baha’i and Jain communities. Leaders spoke to encourage the church’s participation and to affirm their solidarity with the Church with regard to its role in nation building. Several political parties were included in the event. People were renewed in their vision for the church’s role in their national and cultural setting.
More and more church communities are asking for this kind of program and are eager to engage in dialogue about what it means to be Christian. During a question and comment period one woman came forward to say that for the 24 years since she became a Christian she has been living with a knot in her heart. When she became a Christian her pastor told her that she shouldn’t have any association with relatives, neighbors or friends who were still Hindu. She was forbidden from going to her grandmother’s funeral or from visiting an uncle who was very ill. She said there was no way she could be absent from these critical moments in the life of her family, so she went without the pastor’s knowledge and when he asked her she had to deny that she went. Living with this internal conflict has weighed heavily on her heart. “But today”, she said, “the knot has been released. I feel liberated and joyful to know that those who are not Christians are all our brothers and sisters and that we should be loving and compassionate to all – regardless of faith. I believe that this is the true gospel and am now freed to live my faith.”