Category Archives: Opinion

Nepal Trip and Holistic Approach to the Needs


AN-Satya

Friends, I just got back from Nepal. I travelled half way around the globe and spent one whole month in Khokana, my birthplace which is also one of the most affected areas by the recent earthquake.  The 7.8 magnitude scale earthquake shook the very foundations in western and central region of Nepal on 25th April 2015.  Waves of aftershock followed by another fresh 7.4 Rector scale quake destroyed other remaining infrastructures in Khokana. The aftershocks of 4-5 magnitude scale are persistently felt almost every day. I was there for a relief work, solely focusing on the community health project. Needs are sky high; generous gifts from people and national/international humanitarian agencies have been helping people with basic needs.

My one month stay was fruitful, in a sense, that I was able to build six permanent toilets for a displaced community of more than 100 people which consists of 27 households living in their temporary shelters in a public property called Bäkhä (pronounced as Baa Khaa). Prior to my arrival there, they had only two makeshift toilets made of only some bamboos and corrugated galvanized zinc roofing sheets. No proper sewage management or privacy. One of them was already knocked down thus unusable.

Basic needs for survival are demanding, as they will be living in the temporary shelters for, at least, next two years. Some of those living in the shelters will never be able to come out and move back to the old resettlement due to poverty. They might end up living in the slum. Yet, these people did not look broken. I saw their will to come out of this situation. I saw their resilience to get up and move on. Meantime, the spirit of dependence on outsiders also was prevalent among other survivors. Those in need had less or nothing, but others who already had were amassing more. Greed, selfishness, dissensions, discord, and jealousy are pervading the once generous hearts.

Sometimes, we easily lose sight  of eternity when something bad happens to people, and we tend to care only about their physical needs. As much as they need help in the midst of this magnitude of calamity, they also need a redeemer who can see them through and through and change their hearts. God has called us to be ambassadors to show his love through our actions. Please pray for the survivors that Christ’s love will be manifested in their lives. And also pray for God’s people who are working to bring the hope of Christ to the displaced people.

Find out more about what’s happening in Khokana.

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The Key of Bonding: Dine Together


“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,…” Acts 2:46 ESV.

“So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.” 1 Corinthians 11:33 NIV

This “eating together” is not unusual for some, especially with friends and coworkers. On the other hand, it is a very big thing for some. In the hustle and bustle of our everyday life, we find it hard to have a meal together with family. People take two or three jobs to provide for their family. In some families, spouses take jobs in two different shifts. Husband taking job at night shift while wife working on second shift allows them to watch kids at home. When was the last time some of you had dinner together with your family? It was most likely the weekends or holidays for some! Dining together is a very special ritual for my family. My parents always expected all four of their children to come eat with them every day. That was something special I still cherish; our conversation, sharing bit and pieces from our everyday life, and planning for things etc., was big part of our family. The Bible also highlights about the significance of eating together. In the ancient Jewish culture, coming to table and eating together was a matter of spirituality. It required them to keep the Old Testament dietary laws and also maintain table etiquette by staying ceremonially clean. Without going into the details of dietary laws of the Bible, let me explain why we should dine together as a family or church small-group.

1) Getting to Know Each other Food or hard liquor, they are somehow more appealing to people and thus bring people closer. We can see how quickly food or drink can turn perfect strangers to connect and relate to each other as if they had known each other for ages. When we invite someone or go with a group to eat together, we talk. Don’t we? As we talk, we also start opening up. That helps us to know about each other. Knowing each other is important to bond in a relationship, thus it fosters warmth and sense of belonging. It also helps a new member of the group connect to the core group members. I see the invitation to the table as a genuine effort to know them personally. Knot

2) Strengthen Communication Communication is vital in every relationship. As we come to eat together, we may talk on wide varieties of topics that interests people in the table once we get to know each other. Everyone in the group can be asked about their input on certain things or simply carry casual conversation. Next, getting to know each other also helps us to open up more and communicate about ones well-being. When we listen to each other or show interest in someone’s story, it demonstrates that the person is valued and his or her ideas or opinions do matter in the group or family. Honest communication can be very meaningful to strengthen the relationship in a family or church small-groups. When we are open to talk, we can express ourselves and accordingly plan things for the best interest of the group. Eating together now means we are not merely communicating ideas in the table but also learning from each other at the same time. This can be a unifying experience for all involved members of the small-group.


| Eating together can be a head start to begin to know someone and garner relationship that is built on trust and carried on by honest communication which promotes sharing with each other.|


3) Strengthen Relationship Eating together can set a tone for carrying out meaningful conversations. Opening up and communicating graciously and honestly builds up each other and overcomes division and rifts if ever existed. It brings healing to the broken hearts, renews and strengthens relationship. Eating together just gives you the sense of intimacy. To have this sense of gratitude and belonging in the group is to have a confidence in members of the small-group. In this sense, we hold each other accountable.

4) Promote Sharing Ministry is a teamwork. Any group that maintains healthy relationship with group members, communicate effectively and in clarity will most likely succeed in the mission or ministry. Sharing requires trust of each other in the group. Without having known each other and bonded with group members, people cannot merely share about their lives, issues, struggles or anything that’s personal. The level of trust in the group determines how much one is ready and open to share. Therefore, the idea of sharing your personal life and struggles with someone certainly requires that you can trust and count on the persons or group you are with. Eating together can be a head start to begin to know someone and garner relationship that is built on trust and carried on by honest communication which promotes sharing with each other. So, be sure to include others, since the Gospel narratives make known of Christ too many times around the table with bread and wine.

Did Paul Really Fail in Mars Hill?


Apostle Paul’s address to Athenians in Areopagus Hill (“the Roman equivalent is Mars Hill”) is one of the well-known passages (Acts 17:22-34) to his readers. Some see Paul’s rhetoric for the risen Christ among Athenians in Mars Hill as his total failure. They claim that Paul never opted to use rhetoric that appeals to the intellect thereafter. They see no place of apologetics or have lowly view on need of apologetics in the evangelistic ministry thus are quick to discredit it on the basis that Paul could not win many and plant there a local church. Is it really true that Paul failed miserably in Athens and never was apologetic in other places that he later preached and planted the churches?

Firstly, we have to remember that Paul had no plan to stay extensively in Athens and preach there. He was forced to leave Macedonia to escape persecution. There he was waiting for Timothy and Silas to join him from Berea (Acts 17:14) and then travel to Corinth. While waiting for them in Athens, Paul could not contain himself from preaching after seeing the rampant idolatry of Athenians. Those idols were dedicated to different gods and goddesses to appease them so that no bad omen would fall up on them. Idolatry is one of the prime issues he addresses in his epistles. In fact, Athens was named after a goddess, Athena, in her honour.

Secondly, the Athenian Council of Ares which had the full control of affairs in the city, silenced Paul immediately after he mentioned the risen Christ from the dead in his address to the council. Some of them thought that Paul was preaching a foreign god. They probably mistakenly understood Anastasis (“resurrection”) for the goddess consort of a god named Jesus, because the “resurrection” is in the feminine gender while Jesus is in the masculine gender.

For Athenians, the resurrection could have never happened. Paul’s proclamation of the resurrection account was the utter foolishness. Five hundred years earlier, their own tragic poet Aeschylus (525-456 BC) claimed in the same Athenian Council of Ares, “When the dust has soaked up a man’s blood, once he is dead, there is no resurrection” (Eumenides 647-48). Therefore, Paul seemed to be a mere babbler, who had not knowledge of his own but learned things from other people without understanding and made his own, to them. That caused commotion among them which led to a sudden dismissal of the council.

Finally, Paul was not legally free to continue teaching in the city, since the council had not taken any action to approve Paul to do what he wanted to do – teaching or reasoning with Jews and God-fearing Gentiles everyday in synagogues as well as in agora. It was the forum and marketplace of the city which happened to be the centre of Athenian life. All he could do in Athens was to wait for receiving legal protection or permission from the council to teach or move on to Corinth.

Having laid these three reasons, we cannot label his brief mission work in Athens as a complete failure, as Dionysius, the Areopagite who was also a member of the Council of Ares, a woman named Damaris and others with them believed the message and joined Paul. Given the little opportunity to preach the gospel in an unusual circumstance also he had to leave without finishing his preaching, Paul did, in fact, win some. He adapted himself to the context and the audience he was preaching to, just as he talked about it later to the church of Corinth: “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law…. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-23 NIV). Thus, his work in Athens cannot be labelled or talked about as a failure in light of all the reasons presented above.

For more readings on Paul’s address to the Athenian Council in Athens, you may read my previous post.

Sources:

1. Gaebelein, Frank E., Merrill C. Tenney, and Richard N. Longenecker. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts. Vol. 9. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981.

2. Utley, Robert James. Luke the Historian: The Book of Acts. Vol. Volume 5. Study Guide Commentary Series. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999.

“That They were Preaching and Teaching…”: Difference Between Two


He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (Acts 28:30-31, English Standard Version (ESV)

For past three and half years, I taught the biblical truth, on Jesus and his redemptive work on the Cross week in and week out to the Nepali-Speaking people group who were resettled here by the US government. I did it wholeheartedly without any reservation, for I wanted to see these people coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus. I worked my butt off to get the message across their heart and mind. However, I was not seeing much fruit that I had anticipated to see in the church. I was feeding them the fundamental Christian principles in a regular basis but failing to produce or harvest any thing out of it. It was the most discouraging and lonesome time in my ministerial life so far.

It took me full 2 years to come to realize that without affecting the heart, head-knowledge alone is not enough for people to know the need of the Savior. God, in his mercy, alone can bring people to Christ. He uses words from a preacher or teacher as a mean to get across his message to people though! Meantime, our message also must meet the need of the restless soul and address their spiritual condition. Our message should be a part of their problem resolution, that is to say, spirit-led sermon or teaching.

The senior pastor of the church, then I was ministering in, called me into his office one day and offered a really good piece of advice. “Satya, I would like to see you approaching these people with the Gospel more of proclaiming it rather than teaching it.” It was an eye-opening moment for me. He did not mean that I should not teach. Almost all preachers or teachers in the ministry know that both element is equally important in communicating the biblical truth. Every good preacher teaches and vice versa.

What then is the difference between preaching and teaching?

Before we delve into the core of the issue, lets look at some of these interesting verses in the New Testament.

Acts 4:2 – “. . being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”

Acts 5:42- “. . And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

Acts 15:35 – “Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.”

Acts 28:31 – “Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .”

In the above listed passages, we see preaching and teaching happening together. Over times, they seem to overlap. This illustration might be of a little help to understand the difference between two.

Preaching vs TeachingTo simplify it, preaching is geared more towards newbies to the Gospel or nonbelievers. It simply means proclaiming or heralding the message in public. Preaching answers the question, “What should we do?” in any given circumstances. It appeals to the heart to affect the mind. It has a burden to inspire our heart instantly so that our mind agrees to our heart to act. Preaching elevates our desire to obey or act on truth of God. Emotion is the driving factor or the source of drive to act. That is to say, it involves lots of passion that appeals to human heart and emotions that drives the mind to act on what he or she hears.

Contrarily, teaching answers the questions, “What is?” and informs “how to?” Teaching is rarely emotional but rational that strives for burden of proof for its existence. It is driven by reason or evidence, thus, appeals to intellect. Communicating certain truths by appealing to mind or intellect helps a person to perceive things/truths from different perspectives to gain new understanding. As a result, teaching can be boring and dry. Instance, some people find class lecture not so appealing to heart, thus fail to perform or act those truths.

Teaching is expected to step up a gear toward the believers who have already made Jesus Christ as the foundation of their faith. They have basic understanding of the Gospel and now in the process of growing into spiritual maturity. By appealing to their intellect, their heart is affected to act upon those truths. In other words, the intellect convinces the heart now to receive the truth and perform the truth.

For example, we may have learn about the cost of being disciple of Jesus Christ. All the prerequisite qualifications of discipleship can be merely understood in terms of statements made by Jesus Christ. We all know that Jesus demands undivided love and attention to him in this passage (Luke 14:25-33). However, me might not be in the position to really take on this passage and live out in the world. Here, we got good solid teaching but our heart is not moved or motivated to perform the teaching part. Only affecting the heart can produce the result of what we have learned through teaching. Likewise, the same truth need to be communicated to make mind agree with heart by appealing to it. A good teacher might have taught right doctrine in the church, but the church might lack the will or desire to take action. Therefore, we have to have balance between preaching and teaching in our church. Every good teacher preaches too, as every good preacher teaches by presenting explanations, examples and reasonings. Because, Jesus, our Lord and Master, did it.

Tract Evangelism Still Relevant in Nepal


I believe that the tract evangelism is still relevant and effective in this age in Nepal. Given the consideration of geo-polical, and social aspect of the country, tract evangelism is still one of the effective methods to share the gospel to people of different faiths in the country. Working with an international mission organizations like Operation Mobilization and Gospel for Asia have offered me an enriched experience of sharing the gospel through the tracts. From my own firsthand experience in the evangelistic ministry, I have seen and heard numerous stories about people being saved through reading the tracts.

Now, let me explain why the gospel packets or tracts are still one of the effective tools to reach out and share the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Not all of them who hear or read the gospel message come to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet we have a good reason to believe that, if not many, few people will and have come to faith through reading the short but pithy tracts.

I had the privilege of visiting some remote parts of the country with mission teams. I noticed, particularly, people reading the pamphlets and manifestoes of political parties that were laying off the road for days or maybe months. In the next scenario, I saw an auto-rickshaw with megaphone also distributing some politically motivated leaflets, manifesto, and pamphlets in the village. Once I came back to Kathmandu, I saw the same incidents reoccurring. This was not something new happening in the town but I just happened to realize that it was happening that time. Those series of incidents had an enormous impact on my way of thinking about tract evangelism.

I know many people would not bother to hear the gospel from someone, especially in the urban area, they do not know of. However, they tend to read the literature they find on the road or handed out by even a perfect stranger. Not all of them who hear or read the gospel message come to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet we have a good reason to believe that, if not many, few people will and have come to faith through reading the short but pithy tracts. In some cases, people came to believe Jesus as the One who he claimed to be – the living Son of God– by reading only some verses from the tracts. Those verses address their spiritual hunger and need  deep inside their hearts in the given moment of their lives. That transform their lives. We may be tempted to ask how on earthy they would grow in spiritual maturity. There are churches and believers who are willing to walk with them in their spiritual journey. Growing into spiritual maturity is a life-long process. Let alone this topic be left to discuss on different day.

Once a man shared his testimony with me how he came to Jesus. He went to the local food mart to buy some salted peanuts. The shopkeeper put the salted peanuts into a piece of paper and handed him. [In Nepal, some local stores still use papers to pack things by wrapping the corners of papers]. While eating peanuts, he saw something written about life here and afterlife. He started reading it. The message written in the paper touched and greatly moved his heart and he became Christian.

The punch line is: Many people have access to internet and gadgets in our country. Yet, there are still a good numbers of people in the different parts of the country who do not have either no access to electricity or cannot afford to access the internet. Gospel tracts can be a helpful tool to share Jesus to those people.