B.A.S.I.C. NEWSLETTER #124
B.A.S.I.C. NEWSLETTER # 124
I Cor. 16:9 ‘For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’
July 17, 2008
We rejoice to report the following that Pastor Todd Ohlmann reported to the CLC Convention in June 2008.
While the Good News of Jesus Christ has made inroads into Nepal over the past fifty plus years, the message has been corrupted by many false teachings. In the northern regions of Nepal that share a border with China (Tibet), Christianity is mostly unknown. Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhist monk refugee camps dominate this region of Nepal. The Bhitrakoti family has contacts in this area and are eager to reach out to the lost souls in this rugged part of Nepal. When we also consider that less than 1% of the 29,000,000 people confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we see that there is much work yet to be done in Nepal.
How the CLC became involved in Nepal
Pastor Raju, with his father’s (JB) blessing and advice, began searching the Internet for Lutheran organizations that would be willing to offer pastoral training in Nepal. He “stumbled” upon the websites of a few CLC congregations. In reading and searching these sites he read reports concerning the CLC efforts to assist the CLCI and BELC in training pastors in India. Specifically he read reports from previous CLC Mission Helper Trips where mention was made of “pastoral training seminars.” Raju began to send emails asking for assistance in training pastors in Nepal. Pastor Ohlmann and two other CLC pastors received inquiries from Raju. Pastor Ohlmann began corresponding with Raju in Sepember of 2007. After the first few email exchanges it became evident that Raju was sincere in requests for training. He mentioned that his father had received a Lutheran catechism and a couple of other Lutheran books and was convinced that Lutheran doctrine was Scriptural. Over the next several months Pastor Ohlmann led Pastor Raju, by email, through the adult instruction manual written by Pastor John Schierenbeck, titled “Shadows and Substance.” Pastor Raju also shared the lessons with his father and his brother Rajan as together they compared the lessons, answers, and Pastor Ohlmann’s comments with Scripture. Through this process they learned more and more and became convinced that the CLC was indeed a true teaching church body with whom they would like to work. Following the completion of this correspondence course, Raju was sent a few other books such as a Sydow Lutheran Catechism and workbook along with Mueller’s Summary of Christian Doctrine, the Augsburg Confession, and other books.
A trip to Nepal planned and approved
Becoming more and more convinced that the CLC held to and proclaimed the true teachings of God’s word, Pastor Raju asked if Pastor Ohlmann would be willing to come to Nepal to offer pastoral training seminars like the Mission Helper Trips he had read about on the Internet. Raju mentioned that there were several other independent pastors in Nepal who were associated with him and his father. Together they had already begun an organization they named Nepal Christian Organization. Raju also mentioned that there were several other pastors in Nepal who would most likely attend a training seminar. Pastor Ohlmann explained to Raju that it would be best if an initial meeting could be held first at which time our doctrine could be more thoroughly explained and we could also discuss the opportunities that the Lord might have in store for us if we are committed to spreading the truth of God’s word together in a God pleasing way. Raju was pleased with this answer and began to make plans for such a visit to take place. Along with his secular studies in college he, along with his brother and father, began an in-depth study of the materials that had been sent with an understanding that doctrinal unity was of great importance to God.
With the approval of the CLC Mission Board, Pastor Ohlmann began looking into the possibility of combining a trip to Kathmandu with his already scheduled trip to India in May and June of 2008. It was also decided to ask Missionary Matt Ude to accompany him to Nepal With the trip approved and scheduled, correspondence with Raju continued.
Seven Days in Nepal
Pastors Ohlmann and Ude explained that we were not here to dictate a certain way of worship or even to insist upon them taking the name Lutheran, but rather we were there to proclaim the whole truth of God’s word with the hope that they too were interested in this. It was also stressed that while the Lord has not chosen to bestow upon the CLC vast monetary resources, the Lord has blessed the CLC with deep theological roots and a heritage and history that values the truth of God’s word above all and that we bow to no authority other than Scripture. They certainly got the message that the CLC did not have lots of financial resources to hand out. And that being associated with the CLC would not result in a great influx of money to their church. This was made abundantly clear.
Pastor Ohlmann reports
We spent our time studying through the basic doctrines of the Scriptures using the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose. It was a fruitful and exciting day as we spent our time bowing before the authority of God’s Word. These are truly sincere and dedicated men and it was humbling to sit with them and discuss the importance of God’s word and the privilege we have been given as shepherds in His Kingdom. There were questions and comments, as one would expect, when sharing the truth of God’s Word.
Remembering that Christianity has only a fifty year history in Nepal and that very few theological books are available in Nepal, let alone translated into Nepali, we were not surprised that some doctrines that Lutherans hold to were new to these men. For most of these men, the doctrine of infant baptism was new to them. They had never even considered that God’s Word might indicate that infants can and should be baptized. At the end of the day each man was at a very minimum convinced that Baptism was indeed a gift from the Lord and a gift that every person, man, woman, and child needed. They were all eager to learn more and to share what they had learned with the congregations they were serving.
Following the doctrinal discussions an hour was set-aside for Pastors JB and Ragu to lead an organizational meeting with the other independent pastors who had gathered. Pastor JB told me later that he and his sons were so convinced of the truth and validity of Lutheran doctrine that even if the other men would have decided not to go along with them, they had already decided to start a Lutheran Church body on their own. After an hour or so of discussion by the pastors a resolution to join together and form a Confessional Lutheran Church body in Nepal passed with a unanimous vote and enthusiastic clapping of hands and singing. They chose the name: Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal. Their first act was to elect Pastor Raju to serve as chairman. As chairman he was assigned the duties of continuing correspondence with the CLC, organizing and leading ongoing training of the pastors, and to begin the task of writing a doctrinal platform and constitution.
What follows is the text of a letter written by Pastor Raju on behalf of the pastors of the HCLCN and sent to President Schierenbeck and the CLC Board of Missions:
Greetings from the land of Mount Everest, Nepal!
There is a short history of Nepalese Christianity and there are many difficulties with us due to lack of the proper Christian foundation and teachings. Therefore we were praying for a church body that can assist us to know more about the truth of the Bible that we can carry out ministry in Nepal.
At that time we came to know Faith Lutheran Church of St. Louis and I started correspondence with Pastor Todd Ohlmann and he encouraged me to do ministry as well as taught many new things which were not known to me. I completed a correspondence course of “Shadows and Substance” as well as Luther’s Small and Large Catechism, My Church and others and some other books which directly help me in my ministry. I came to know about the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose and Pastor Todd guided me on this.
In May 27, 2008, God gave us a privilege to welcome Pastor Todd and Pastor Matthew Ude among us. We started doctrinal discussions and other information regarding CLC Board of Missions.
We had a meeting in June 1, 2008 at Kathmandu and 8 pastors participated the meeting and all of them were greatly interested to know more about the CLC. Pastor Todd Ohlmann and Pastor Matthew Ude taught about the doctrines of CLC and they clarify each section of CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose.
After the doctrinal discussion we all came to conclusion to seek affiliation with CLC to extend the kingdom of God in Nepal.
From the several months of studying and doctrinal discussions we formed a Lutheran Church Body in Nepal. We have chosen the name “Himalayan Church of Lutheran Confession of Nepal” for the body.
We have a great desire to establish a fellowship with the CLC and also working relationship with CLC Board of Missions with the sole purpose and hope of receiving on going training in the Word.
The founding pastors of the HCLCN pray that the Lord will bless this newly formed Lutheran Church body in Nepal. We are also praying that the Lord will establish a long and fruitful relationship with the CLC that we may work together to proclaim the Word of the God throughout Nepal and glorify our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
On behalf of the pastors of the HCLCN,
Pastor Raju Bhitrakoti,