Gunja Gurung is no stranger to the supernatural. While it’s easy for us in the west to become jaded or skeptical, the pastor who leads a 300 member church and 9 small village churches in Kathmandu, Nepal has seen God at work in some amazing ways.
“An elderly man in my church has developed deep faith and knowledge of God over the past two decades. People started coming to him for prayer for the sick and the needy and God performed wonders. One day a group of villagers who heard that this man does miracles in the name of Jesus brought to him a cow that suffered from some rare illness. He prayed over the cow and the cow got completely healed.” The family who owned the cow as their only means of their survival thanked him -and Jesus – as they returned to their village.
Likewise, Gurung’s wife often confronts women possessed by evil spirits. “Generations long rituals and superstitions have blinded them to the powers of darkness. My wife did not study in a Bible College, but she believed in the Nazareth Manifesto in Luke 4:18 (in which Jesus declares the purpose of his ministry – healing the sick, freedom for captives and deliverance for those trapped in darkness) and showed the church many times the huge need for healing and deliverance of these people from demonic powers.”
As a devoted Hindu young man of 34 years, Gurung met his Lord Jesus Christ through the Gospel sharing of his elder sister. “In the little knowledge I had about Christianity”, he says, “I viewed it as a foreign religion of the lower castes and a religion that helps these people to make money. After my baptism in 1994, I was persecuted by my family members and was taken to the Pashupati Hindu Temple for worship and purification. When I bowed down before the idol with everyone else, all of a sudden I uttered the name ‘JESUS’ without being fully aware of what I was doing. That day I gave my life completely to the service of Jesus Christ.”
As a first generation Christian student from Nepal, Gurung received no financial assistance from his family. “I had my parents, my wife and two children to be cared for in Nepal when I started my study at NIBS, the New India Bible Seminary. As a pioneer church planter in a Hindu country like Nepal, new converts had no money or material things to share with the church. They all were living in extreme poverty. The financial assistance I received from Overseas Council was absolutely a miraculous provision from God and I am always thankful for that. I would have never survived in India or completed my studies without this help.”
The work Gurung and his wife take on encompasses three main categories: Church Planting and Pastoral Ministry, Bible School Ministry, and Social Work. “My wife has been an immense support to me in the ministry of evangelism and church planting. She does not fear anything as she shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is equally a leader with me in the ministry of the church.” With their three children, “God is using us to set a model of family ministry, which is impacting many persons and communities in Nepal. We are thankful to God for this”, says Gurung.
Indeed, the Church in Kathmandu is growing steadily. Women’s ministry support is incredible in church planting and growth, and God is changing lives and transforming the land for His Kingdom. Christianity is getting strongly rooted in a nation which used to be the only Hindu nation in the world. Says Gurung, “The first church I planted by the grace of God in the capital city of Kathmandu is one of the largest churches and we have been having people from all different castes worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ in one accord. The impact of this Christian vision of oneness in Christ has been a blessing not just to the city, but is also expanding to many other places where we are continuing church planting.”
All new converts in Gurung’s church, as well as the branch churches in the villages, receive regular discipleship and teaching so that they will stand firm when persecutions come. New converts committed to ministry who seek some form of formal training are offered the opportunity to obtain a Bachelor of Theology with the New India Bible Seminary in Paippad. For those who don’t have access to training, Gurung provides non-formal training. “I provide them systematic teachings and courses so that they will develop confidence in skills and trust in God. All the nine outstations of my first church started with the people whom I trained.”
The Church in Nepal faces a number of challenges. Human Trafficking. Poverty (particularly after devastating earthquakes). Famine. False Christian cults like the Sachai, Matha. And persecution. “New converts are misguided easily and evangelists are driven away from their faith in Jesus Christ and the true Gospel. The cults are aiming at the Christian believers mainly and this is setting one of the biggest challenges to the ministry in Nepal”, says Gurung. Additionally, “It is difficult for Christians to rent rooms for prayer or bury their dead. People are divided by castes and Christians are looked down upon as lower castes.” Gurung prays, and asks US to pray, that one day “Caste-ism and all its evil effects will be eradicated from Nepal.”