The Himalayan Church of Lutheran Confession Nepal

Here is a brief report submitted by Pastor Todd Ohlmann, CLC USA.

How the CLC became involved in Nepal

As mentioned above, Pastor Raju, 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.

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 eight 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. With the advice of Missionary Koenig a seven day trip to Nepal was planned and scheduled for the end of May and the first week of June.

Seven Days in Nepal

Upon arrival in Kathmandu, Pastors Ohlmann and Ude were met at the airport by Raju and Rajan and were given silk shawls, as is the custom in Nepal. Following a couple hours of rest at our hotel we were taken to the home of Pastor JB and his family for an evening meal and a few hours of discussions concerning the state of the Christian church in Nepal and their ideas, plans, and prayers for the future.

During the seven days we were given in Nepal we visited several of the congregations and pastors associated with Pastor JB and his sons. These congregations are found in the hilly regions west of Kathmandu. Pastor JB is originally from this part of Nepal and knows many people there. We had the privilege of meeting and visiting with four pastors who Pastor JB works with. Two of these pastors he baptized years ago when they were brought to faith. While the distance to these places was not far, the amount of time it takes to travel there was very long. We probably averaged about 30-40 km/hour as we wound our way up and down mountain roads that seem to have been built for one way traffic but somehow they manage two way traffic with all sort of vehicles, including very large lorries (trucks) making their way through. We visited the cities of Hetauda, Bharatpur, and Butwol. We attended and taught at special church services that were arranged since we would be there and we also visited and taught at a couple of house churches. My impression of the four pastors we met is that they are very sincere in serving the Lord and have truly humbled themselves before the Word with a great desire to increase their knowledge and understanding of it. As we met with the congregations and especially the pastors we stressed the fact that we were not coming with financial assistance but rather with the one thing needful…the Word of God. After one such explanation to the congregation in Butwol, the pastor (who speaks good English) smiled and commented that what has just been said was very sweetly stated and exactly what his people needed to hear. Over and over we heard similar comments from the pastors. While there is an obvious shortage of financial resources in most of the Nepali congregations, the pastors were most enthusiastic about receiving more in-depth training in the Word of God

This trip through the hills and mountains west of Kathmandu was grueling, long, and sometime frustrating as we sat for long periods of times as traffic was brought to a stand still in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. But the beauty of these mountains is breath taking. And the joy of proclaiming our risen and reigning Lord and Savior was pure joy.

After a night’s rest back in Kathmandu we met for eight hours with Pastor JB, Pastor Raju, and Rajan along with seven other independent pastors. Pastor Ohlmann began the day with a devotion that helped to focus our attention on the importance of God’s word and privilege we have as servants and stewards of the mysteries of God’s grace. Following the devotion Pastor Ohlmann presented a brief history of the CLC along with an overview of the variety of mission efforts that the Lord has blessed the CLC with opportunity to be involved. Throughout this presentation the point was made that our main concern is with teaching and proclaiming the truth of God’s word. We 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, almost to point that I felt I was repeating it too much.

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 Lutheran hold to were new to these men. Also taking into consideration that the majority of what they hear concerning the Scriptures comes over the airwaves through the likes of Joyce Meyers, Benny Hinn and others who spread corrupt and dangerous false teaching. 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. If nothing else was accomplished during these seven days in Nepal, at least there are seven pastors who are now studying and proclaiming the truth concerning the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit in Baptism. They are all very excited about what they have learned and have only one request…they want us to teach them more!

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. 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. Advice was sought about what they should name their new church body. No specific suggestions were given but they were told that they should choose a name that best represents them and the doctrine they intend to proclaim. 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.

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