I have been back from Nepal for 2 weeks and have been reflecting on my time there. One theme of my teaching over the past 35+ years has been "multiplicative ministry." Multiplicative ministry is that training aspect of Jesus' ministry, when he is focused on reproduction of his own ministry in his disciples, calling them to go and do likewise. One key passage for this strategy is Mark 3:7-19, where you see Jesus teach the many, call together a selected group (those whom he desired), appoint the 12 as apostles, and rename the 3, his innermost group. I reflected on this because, during my time in Nepal, I had times of influence that seemed multiplicative and satisfying in inverse proportion to the size of the group to which I was ministering:
- The Many. Twice I preached in churches, through a translator, to groups of several hundred. Once in Kathmandu, and once in Surkhet, a much more rural area. My host, Sharad Lama, said that his church in Kathmandu was quite used to hearing from Westerners who would preach. He thought that the sermon went well, and it was warmly received. But in Surkhet, Sharad mentioned that the church was not at all used to having westerners come. They feel isolated, in a remote part of the country where they are greatly in the minority, and expressed what a real, tangible encouragement it is to have guests bring support and good news to their church. There I preached on the the healings of the "two daughters" (the woman with the flow of blood and Jairus' daughter), I think the message was very timely and quite well received. I said that both the high and powerful Jairus and the lowly and unclean woman understood that Jesus had power, but they both only came to experience his surprising love for them through responding to his invitation in an act of faith. We all meet Jesus the same way.
- Select Groups. The two conferences were about the same size, of about 25. The second conference was students in Surkhet, most of them with very little ability to talk with me in English, either in the teaching times or during the meals and breaks. Still, because we had three days of 6 hours of teaching together, I was able to enjoy this second group of students who were motivated to study God's word and apply it to their lives. During our times of corporate, symphonic prayer, I could not tell what they were praying, but I could tell they were praying fervently (pictured above)!
- The Few: Smaller groups of staff and students. At the end of both conferences we gathered in smaller groups for further and deeper reflection and conversation. After the alumni conference I met with the Nepali IFES staff team to discuss situational leadership and its application in the Nepali context. After the student conference in Surkhet a group of 10 student leaders of the IFES group there met with me and with Sharad, who served to translate for the students as they were able to share their conversion stories with me. It was inspiring to hear from about half the students who had been the first in their families to become believers, often as the result of a dramatic healing or release from addiction.
- The One: My time with Sharad Lama, the General Secretary (national leader) of the IFES movement in Nepal. Because Sharad was with me during both conferences, and translating for me during the second one, he and I spent a lot of time together. We stayed in the same housing locations, and shared our meals together. When we were not with students, we talked about ministry, his life, and about Nepal. I quite enjoyed him, and I enjoyed sharing a meal with him and his wife on my last full day in Nepal. He expressed what an impact it had on him to translate the material I was teaching, and I am confident he will continue to teach and train from the materials I left behind. All 20 or so of the Sketches of Leadership I taught from in Nepal have been translated into Nepali and formatted nicely for ongoing use there in the student ministry.
(Below is the view from the prop plane flying at 16,500 ft altitude, looking up toward the Himalayan foothills at around 20,000 feet. I had this view for most of an hour-long flight.)