History of Nepal
Pastor Raju Bhitrokoti, with his father’s 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 September 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 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.
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.
Missionary Matt Ude and Pastor Todd Ohlmann traveled to Nepal in May of 2008 and spent several days visiting congregations and conducted a seminar to teach the doctrines of the Lutheran church using the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose. Nine pastors, in addition to Pastor Raju, his father JB and his brother Rajan accepted the teaching of the CLC.
Following the doctrinal discussions, an hour was set aside for Pastor JB and Raju to lead an organizational meeting with the other independent pastors who had gathered. 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 to call themselves the Himalayan Church of the Lutheran Confession of Nepal (HCLCN). 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.
Pastor Raju completed the translation, publishing, and printing of 1,000 copies of the Shadows and Substance study workbook. The CLC Board of Missions approved monthly subsidy for training the nine pastors of the HCLCN to teach their congregations the lessons of Shadows and Substance.
Pastors Matt Ude and Todd Ohlmann arrived on January 19th and traveled to the Chitiwan area and conducted three days of pastoral training with the original nine pastors of the HCLC-Nepal. There were also 14 independent pastors in attendance who are interested in learning more about Lutheran doctrine. Since there were these new men in attendance and the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose has now been translated into Nepali, the three days of seminars were spent reviewing and explaining the doctrinal positions set forth in the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose as well as an introduction to Luther’s Catechism. The men in attendance all agreed with what was taught and are excited to continue monthly training seminars.
Seminars titled, Saved by the Grace of God, were taught in three congregations. A visitation was also made to an area of northern Nepal near the Tibet border where a young evangelist, who is associated with the HCLC-Nepal, has been working to spread the Gospel. This young man has no formal theological training. He has expressed his agreement with the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose and has requested further training in the word that he may better serve the Lord and His people.
All the pastors of the HCLC-Nepal have continued to meet monthly as they study through the book Shadows and Substance in preparation for teaching it to the members of the congregations they serve. They will also be studying through the booklet My Church and Others and the 14 doctrinal essays that Missionary Koenig has prepared as soon as they have been translated and printed.
Pastor Raju reports that the translation of two booklets titled What the Bible and Lutherans Teach and My Church and Others has been completed and are now waited to be printed. Funding from the CLC-MDF has been approved for the printing of 1000 copies of each booklet at a cost of $650. These booklets will first be distributed to and studied by the pastors of the HCLC-Nepal and then by the members of congregations they serve. Translation work has also begun on Luther’s Small Catechism. This should be ready for printing by July or August of 2009.
Pastor Raju and Pastor Ohlmann completed a Christian Doctrine correspondence course (via email) spanning several months using study sheets, the Scriptures, Luther’s Small Catechism, “My Church and Others”, and “A Summary of Christian Doctrine. The answers that Pastor Raju provided were forwarded to the CLC Board of Doctrine for review as they consider the request for fellowship from HCLC-Nepal.
The CLC Convention voted to accept the HCLC-Nepal into fellowship. Pastor Raju and Pastor Ohlmann continue email correspondence courses as they study through “Go and Teach.”
CLC Mission Helpers: Chad Sebyt, Naomi Bernthal, Randy Wittorp, Carl Reim, Ryan Augustin, Melanie Hallstien, Natalie Schreyer, Becky Sippert, Emily Hulke, and Pastor Todd Ohlmann spent three and half weeks in Nepal traveling with Raju and Rajan Bhitrakoti as they carried out child evangelism in eleven current or prospective congregations of the HCLC-Nepal. Nearly 1500 children were taught and received gifts from the mission helpers. Pastor Ohlmann and CLC Teacher Chad Sebyt also met with 21 pastors for one day.
July and August 2012
Missionary Matthew Ude and his father, Professor John Ude made a visitation to Nepal to visit congregation and to teach pastoral training seminars. Raju Bhitrakoti began seminary classes at Immanuel Lutheran Seminary in Eau Claire, WI.
Raju Bhitrakoti began his second year of seminary classes at Immanuel Lutheran Seminary in Eau Claire, WI.