”For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12
Lisa and I are happy to be together in Nepal for a week. We have each taught in Nepal in the past (Lisa in 2017, Rich in 2018 and 2019), but this is our first chance to be here together, joining the staff team of the IFES student ministry. We had planned to visit them in June 2020,but of course those plans had to be cancelled. When we first were praying about ministry in Asia, Nepal was always part of our sense of calling. We both have taught courses on-line in Nepal in the last two years, and we will both teach hybrid courses in the fall, courses which begin with a week of in-person teaching in Kathmandu. This is one of the benefits of living in Kuala Lumpur--direct flights here are quick and inexpensive.
After our time in Nepal, Lisa will return to Kuala Lumpur to begin a new school term, and I will spend two weeks in India, in Orissa (May 7-14) and Punjab (May 15-21). The first week I will teach about 20 times, through the entire gospel of Mark. We will be in five locations, teaching the people of the village/town churches in 3 inductive studies over the course of each day, with a fourth study in the evening for a group of pastors and church planters that will be traveling all week with us. These pastors have been with me studying scripture weekly via Zoom for the past six months, and I am looking forward to meeting them in person! My host and translator, Pastor S, was a graduate student in a course I taught in India last July —he is a great student of the Word, teacher, and leader. His initiative has brought this week about. I am looking forward to all the teaching, but especially to deepening the teaching/training ability of the pastors who will be in the course, as they both learn from my content and my modeling of inductive methods.
The second week in India I will be in Punjab state, teaching among a group of pastors and lay leaders in a church-planting network. The schedule will be similar, but a bit reduced, probably only 3 sessions/day. Still, it will ideally open up a new network of pastors to this teaching in a way that may continue via Zoom after the end of my time there. My connection to this ministry and network of Pastors in Punjab state is Pastor J, who hosted Lisa and me last August in Tamil Nadu state. He will be joining me for the week in Punjab, where his seminary friend will be hosting us. I hope to return to Tamil Nadu again later this year, perhaps after my return to Nepal in September.
One theme of my investment in India is helping pastors to learn how to teach inductively by asking questions and getting groups of people to look at the word and to discuss it themselves in small and then larger groups. Pastor S in Orissa has been doing this with groups of people who are very much enjoying a new way of hearing and studying the Word of God. The pastors who will be with me for the week in Orissa will leave with several months’ worth of Bible studies they can return with to their own churches, and a model of how to lead people into discussions that will help move them past the typical experience, which is of a pastor just talking for a long time about a passage in ways that do not as easily engage the hearts and minds of the listeners.
Please pray for our time in Nepal, India, and Lisa on her own in KL. We ask your prayers for health and stamina, as well as for the campus ministers and pastors we will serve. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he is obviously looking forward to the teaching and ministry he can do among them, and he expresses that in 1:11, but then Paul gives us a look into his thought process, because he enlarges his thought to recognize that his time in Rome will involve mutual sharing and encouragement. This is indeed how we see our visits to Nepal and India. We are aware that in both countries, the church faces great grass roots resistance, and government suppression is on the rise, so we hope to be an encouragement to them in person as we have been praying for them at a distance. But the pastors and church in India, and the student ministry staff in Nepal, are a very real inspiration to us, as God’s promises about suffering for the Gospel are more meaningful to them than we can imagine.
As we often do, we ask for prayers for our visa situation, which has not progressed in any way we can discern. Thus, we left KL with minor trepidation, since each departure adds one more uncertain attempt to enter on a new tourist visa.
Thanks so much for your interest in our ministry, your prayers and your support! We are grateful to be able to be fully investing in our work here. Please drop us a note if you are able! We love to hear from you!
Rich and Lisa
Rich and Lisa Lamb