Rabin in Nepal: Our labour for the Lord is never in vain
An Open Doors small group reflection
Bible: 1 Corinthians 15:58
Serving God can be an uphill struggle. It can be exhausting and even demoralising. But this story from Nepal reminds us that ‘our labour is not in vain’. It features Open Doors partner Rabin Karki, whose work takes him into remote, mountainous regions. “I focus on the remote areas where people require biblical training that empowers their spiritual life,” he says. “This is my way of showing God’s love to people.”
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Rabin was exhausted. The journey to the village had been bad enough: six hours carrying heavy baggage, climbing steep hills to a place inaccessible by road or air. He had persevered, though, eventually reaching the small, remote church where he delivered persecution survival training to the grateful believers.
“The programme went well and everyone appreciated it,” he recalls. “One participant shared that, after attending the seminar, she learnt to forgive and pray for her persecutors. Hearing such testimonies encouraged me.”
But an hour into the return journey, the encouragement drained away.
“My legs started shaking,” he remembers. “I was completely weary and couldn’t walk any further. I missed my home, my family, and my comfortable bed. I was so tired that I could see a leech attached to my leg sucking blood, but I didn’t have enough energy to knock it away. It was a moment when I nearly gave up.”
It was then that Rabin felt the Lord speak to him. God reminded me, ‘Son, your labour will not go in vain. For every painful step you are taking, there will be a blessing after it.’ I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:58 – ‘Your labour in God is not in vain’. I felt God’s presence encourage me to move ahead despite difficulties.”
Background: Persecution in Nepal
Although Nepal was declared a secular state in 2015, in 2018 the government brought in an anti-conversion law. Anyone found proselytising faces a potential five-year prison sentence and a huge fine. Christians who had previously been able to share the gospel now need to be cautious, even inside church buildings.
Christians also face opposition, bullying and discrimination from family members and local communities. They can be expelled from their homes or communities and some have been violently assaulted.
“In Nepal, Christianity is regarded as a foreign religion,” says Rabin. “It is also known to be the low-caste religion. Christians are discriminated against and often socially boycotted.”
This is leading to an often violent and carefully orchestrated targeting of Christians and other religious minorities in many parts of India. Increasing numbers of states are implementing anti-conversion laws, which purport to prevent coerced conversion, but are often abused to harass and intimidate Christians with false accusations of bribing people to convert.
- Rabin shares the feeling of wanting to give up. “Many times, I have had to walk on foot for several hours to reach a small church and to meet a group of persecuted Christians,” he said. “There are times I think, ‘Oh God, am I in the right place?’” Do you ever feel like this?
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:58. Why do you think this verse came to Rabin’s mind?
- Rabin says that many people are turning to Christ, despite the opposition. Many of these come from the ‘untouchable’ lower caste. What is it that attracts them to Jesus?
- Can you think of instances in the gospels where Jesus demonstrates the radical, taboo-busting love of God?
Watch and Pray
In rural Nepal, thousands of Christian converts like Shanti* suffer discrimination and even violence. When Shanti’s husband reacted angrily to her decision to start following Jesus, she found support from another believer and her witness has had a dramatic effecton her husband. Use this video to help you pray.
Some more prayer points from Nepal
- “I would like to thank all the brothers and sisters who are praying for us and supporting us,” says Rabin. “Please pray for the Open Doors partners as we go to the field. Pray that God protects us and our families from all kinds of harm.”
- Pray for persecuted Christians in Nepal, that they might have the courage to keep sharing the good news of Jesus despite the restrictions. Pray also for new converts – that they would be able to stand strong in the faith.
- Perhaps you feel as though you are trudging wearily through difficult terrain. Perhaps you, like Rabin, say “Am I in the right place?” Ask God for reassurance and comfort. Use the verse from 1 Corinthians to remind yourself every day: our labour for the Lord is never in vain.
Thanks to Open Doors supporters, hundreds of Nepalese families have received crucial food and aid. Thank you so much!
“We hadn’t got any support from anywhere. My family was falling short of food and I was struggling to feed my children. I appreciate this team who came with love and compassion, and filled our kitchen with food. They encouraged us and prayed for us. I want to thank the supporters from my heart. God’s blessings on all of you.”
These are words of Geeta*, the mother of one of the 900 families in Nepal who have been supported by Open Doors local partners during the Covid-19 crisis, thanks to your prayers and support.
The lockdown began on 24 March 2020, hitting the economy of Nepal hard. The majority of Nepal’s population live in rural areas, sometimes not even connected to a proper road, and most people work in agriculture. Many labourers and other workers lost their jobs during the lockdowns. With no opportunities for daily labour work, it has been very difficult for them to survive and provide for the basic needs of their families.
Persecution doesn’t stop
For many Christians families, the difficulties of this crisis come on top of the persecution they already face. Hiren*, a local Open Doors partner, shares: “In most areas, people are socially boycotted the moment they choose to convert to Christianity. They are not allowed access to public facilities, such as wells, and are denied job opportunities and are socially isolated.
“They had not received any support from anywhere and lacked food and basic necessities.”HIREN*, OPEN DOORS PARTNER
“Most of the rural population is very poor and Christians from such communities become poorer. Such Christians were the main people suffering during the earliest phase of lockdown.”
Open Doors partners in Nepal, like Hiren, already know networks of Christians – and spent this time urgently identifying and meeting more, working with local churches. “We came to know of many poor, marginalised Christian labourers, starving and in desperate need of help and assistance,” says Hiren. “They had not received any support from anywhere and lacked food and basic necessities.”
“We were worrying about how we could survive”
“I and my family are so glad to receive help during this pandemic,” says Preeta*. “We were worrying about how we could survive, as our resources were running out day by day. But God provided for us at the right time! My family is grateful and will always remember to pray for the partners and supporters.”
To meet the urgent need for food and basic essentials, Open Doors partners began delivering food aid, including rice, lentils, spices, oil, and snacks, as well as hygiene essentials. A food pack was enough to help a family of four to survive for almost a month.
“Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, my husband lost his job and we were going through a very difficult time,” says Soni*, the mother of one of the families helped. “The relief materials are a great support for us in our difficult time. May God bless you all in your ministry and enable you to reach out to many others in future. I want to thank all of you for the timely support.”
“May God bless you all in your ministry and enable you to reach out to many others in future.”SONI*
Thanks to your giving and praying, more than 900 families have already benefitted from this relief project, and there are many more to reach.
Hiren shares, “It was really challenging for us, as some parts of the region were closed by the local administration due to an increase in Covid-19 cases and we had to wait for a few days. Though we were at risk of the virus, by the grace of God and with the best protective gear, we were able to distribute relief aid without any hitches.”
There may be a risk, but Hiren feels well rewarded by seeing the joy as people receive the food and aid they have been so desperately needing: “It was stirring to see the response and positive reaction after families received the relief materials. They were filled with gratitude and joy as they were able to have adequate food items for the family with the help of the Open Doors partners. The smiles on their faces revealed their joy.”
“They were able to see the love of Christ”
Hiren knows that this is how Jesus’ love is shown: “They testified that they were able to see the love of Christ very clearly and that they were also encouraged to seek the Lord and to spend the valuable time with the Lord. The transformation in the lives of people through the little help and support we provided was incredible.”
“We praise and honour God for all this provision at the time of our need through the team, risking their lives and providing food to us,” says Vishal*, father of two (pictured with his family, above).
Raghu*, another Christian who was helped, adds: “I am so gratified to our Lord and to the supporters who provided us with this much blessing in this tough situation. Still, there are many more areas where there are people like my family who need this type of blessing. I believe and pray that the team will reach all the needy people and encourage them with the love of Christ.”
*Names changed for security reasons