NEPAL: One year after devastating earthquake

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KATHMANDU, Nepal — The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal was a galvanizing moment for Rajaan Chhetri,* a church planter, pastor and mentor. Prior to the earthquake, the Lord gave Chhetri and Christian worker Reece Dehn* the vision to open a water bottling plant in Nepal to create jobs for Christians as well as meet a need for clean drinking water.

Though Nepal is the second water-richest country in the world, sources say 3 million Nepalese drink contaminated water and 85 percent drink water below international safety standards. The need for clean water and jobs grew post-earthquake.

At that time, however, God revealed to Chhetri an even greater need.

“Three days after the earthquake, I prayed to God, ‘Lord, why did you spare us? It would have been better if we died because we were a whole family together, with the church, on that morning. Living and surviving after that is difficult,'” Chhetri said.

Chhetri’s prayer echoed the Apostle Paul’s quandary in the first chapter of Philippians when he desired to depart from this life and be with Christ. Just as God answered Paul, Chhetri felt the Lord telling him he is needed here on earth to advance the Gospel.

“God clearly showed me the reason. ‘[There] are many millions whose heart is shaken by this earthquake. My hand is upon them and I want you to take the Gospel to them,'” Chhetri said, recalling the word the Lord gave him. “I said, ‘Lord, no more question[s].”

Chhetri said the Lord promised him that as a family, church and nation they would be in a better place because of the disaster.

The 19 church planters Chhetri mentors are ministering primarily in eastern Nepal, many in rural areas. These men, as well as many pastors and believers in Nepal, struggle to provide for their families.

Many of these men want to be involved in full-time ministry but financially can’t afford it, said Dehn, a ministry partner with Chhetri.

“There is a great need for jobs in Nepal, and steady part-time jobs are almost non-existent,” Dehn explained. “In order to survive, many men leave the country to earn money in other countries. Many who are called to be leaders in the ministry in this country struggle to fulfill their call and put food on the table for their families.”

Chhetri said when he visits the men he mentors, “my heart gets burdened and I cry. When I come back home, I find myself in the same situation.”

Many of the believers live on daily wages. Some are pig farmers and others are farmers. When medical emergencies arise, the financial strain is crippling. One of the church planters recently had a kidney stone removed. He had to sell two of his pigs to pay for the procedure.

“Many times I find that there are no opportunities to work, no job creation. That’s a big problem, and so we want to do something about it,” Chhetri said.

“For many, it’s a question of survival,” Chhetri added.

The Lord clearly spoke to Chhetri about a remedy for this issue as well as a solution for a nationwide problem: water.

He said the Lord revealed the great need for water as he read in the Gospel of John about how Jesus is the Living Water.

“I felt the Holy Spirit saying, ‘what does it say?'” Chhetri said. “I said, ‘Yes Lord, you are the Living Water, there’s no doubt about that.’ And I felt the Spirit just [say], ‘What about the water that people drink for living?”

Chhetri said this, along with the staggering statistics, is how the vision for a water bottling plant started. Dehn said the water bottling distribution business will provide church leaders and church planters with jobs either in the main factory or distributing bottled water.

Some church planters will work in Kathmandu, but Dehn said most will stay in their areas and distribute the bottled water to stores.

“By the church planters staying in their areas of ministry, they will be able to continue to plant churches and be close to their families and have a part-time job that allows them to provide for their family,” Dehn said.

“This bottled water company can be a conduit for believers in America to be used by God to meet the needs of leaders here in Nepal so that they will not have to worry about how to earn money and do ministry,” Dehn continued.

Chhetri said the water bottling company will also give believers an open door to the homes and communities where they will deliver bottles. He said on average, pastors and church planters will need to work only two days a week, giving them plenty of time for ministry.

Chhetri is looking forward to the company contributing to Nepal’s economy. He said other water bottling companies exist in Kathmandu, but many do not treat the water, and it is contaminated.

“As a Christian company, it will come with the quality,” Chhetri said. He said their marketing and delivery will be different. Instead of joining the crowd of voices saying, “We are better than them,” Chhetri plans for his water cleanliness to speak for itself.

“When we come in the market, people can taste and feel it. In that way, with the distributors, local vendors, they will ask questions, ‘Why, why are you different?'” Chhetri said. “That opens a wide gate for us to witness.”

Chhetri said not all of the workers in the bottling plant will be believers.

“That will give us opportunity to meet [unbelievers] six days a week and share the Gospel and witness,” he said.

To learn more about contributing to the operational costs of the water bottling ministry, click here.

*Name changed.

— by Caroline Anderson | BP

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