By Samuel Cho, Pastor of Nepal and Bhutan Baptist Churches
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
While planting a Korean church in 2000, God gave me a strong vision of planting a multicultural church where we would establish a bilingual worship service. One day I went to a Korean restaurant in downtown Baltimore and I had a burning desire to share the Gospel with the waitress who served our table. As a result, I began to build a friendship with her. Eventually, my wife and I visited her and her husband. We shared the Gospel with them and they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
After her salvation, this Nepali waitress named Nina Shrestha (a Nepali college student at Baltimore County Community College), opened her apartment, invited her friends and neighbors over and started a Bible study. This led to the Baltimore Baptist Association sharing their facilities and helping to launch the start of the Nepal Baptist Church of Baltimore in 2006. This church may be the very first Nepali Baptist church in the United States.
Rabi Poudel was a case manager for the International Rescue Committee of Bhutanese refugees. Soon, he attended our church. As he began to help our ministry, he informed me that Bhutanese refugees were arriving in Baltimore from Nepal. My wife and I visited Tika Regmi’s family, who had just immigrated to Baltimore. We invited him to the Nepal Baptist Church. A few months later, a Bhutanese house church started in 2008 and the number of church members began to increase. An American church allowed us to use their facilities and that was the beginning of the Bhutan Baptist Church of Baltimore, which started independently from Nepal Baptist Church.
To understand the context of these works, it would help to share a brief history regarding these people. About 100 years ago, some Nepalese people immigrated to Bhutan for a better job and life. Even today, the country of Bhutan is more prosperous and is a happier country in that region. (Bhutan is located very close to Nepal.) About 20 year ago, the Bhutan king began to persecute the Nepalese immigrants because they refused to give up their own religion and culture. The large majority of the Nepalese consist of Hindus, while the Bhutanese follow Buddhism.
Overnight, the king deprived the Nepalese immigrants of their citizenship in Bhutan and expelled some of them back to their fatherland of Nepal. However, Nepal refused to take back their native Nepalese people from Bhutan, because Nepal was already dealing with extreme poverty. The Nepalese who immigrated to Bhutan became refugees and placed were under the care of the United Nations for several years. Recently, the UN has taken action and is beginning to allocate 60 percent of the 100,000 refugees to the USA and the remainder to other countries. So far, 30,000 have arrived in the US and about 700 of them reside in the metropolitan Baltimore area.
Mission trip to Nepal and Bhutan camps
In 2012, my wife and I traveled to Nepal and Bhutan and visited the refugee camps. During our trip we went to the camps four times and saw more than 1,000 Nepalese and Bhutanese find salvation in Jesus Christ.
We visited our church members’ families in the Nepal and Bhutan camps, informed them of their family’s life in Baltimore, and delivered gifts for them. After that, we shared the Gospel and some of them accepted Jesus and are now believers in Jesus. In 2011, I baptized five Nepalese Christians at Morang Nepal.
We also planted two churches and five additional “house” churches at the Butwal, Kathmandu and Bhutan camps in Nepal. They were very eager to hear of their family’s life in USA and about American culture, in general, especially those Bhutanese in the Nepali Camps that are coming to United States soon. By doing these things in advance of the refugees coming to the USA, we created an intimate relationship and a good biblical foundation to help them accept our invitation to Christ as Savior and Lord.
I also requested leaders to open their house to have a weekly meeting to share the Word of God, pray, and have fellowship. The others soon began to participate and the meeting quickly became the house church of the town. I encouraged them to continue their meeting in Christ and when they go to the USA, they can continue their house church meeting with other Bhutanese brothers and sisters in the USA.
Now, I am a Korean-American pastor, but these churches that I have planted are focused on the Nepalese and Bhutanese people here in America. However, I have also planted churches among these dear people in the homeland of Nepal, too. (Bhutanese brothers and sisters can speak and write the Nepalese language because they lived in Nepal for more than 20 years.) While I do not understand the Nepalese language, God has given me a vision and passion that includes:
- A desire for multicultural church planting with a compassionate heart and mind
- Reaching similar cultural backgrounds as my own: Korean, Nepalese and Bhutanese
- Leading these new churches to select a leader and start church planting when there are many who have confessed their faith in Christ
- Enlisting the parent church to start intercessory prayer for the newly-planted house church
- Church planting, not only in the USA, but also other countries, especially Nepal and Bhutan
- Encouraging the leaders to serve the house church voluntarily
- An understanding that those who experience persecution are often more interested in church planting
- The realization that there are many different cultural refugees in this country and they may be looking for a church planting opportunity
If God is leading you to be involved in church planting, you will need a compassionate heart that moves you into action. In this way, the apostle Paul planted many churches, even though he was a tentmaker and supported himself. Many of us today should follow his model. God knows each situation and will provide sufficiently for all who trust Him as they serve.
Remember this: If it is God’s vision, it will never lack for His provision. He will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
Samuel Cho serves as the church planter/pastor of the Nepal and the Bhutan Baptist Churches in Baltimore, Maryland. He can be reached by phone or text at (410) 560-2756 or by email at email@example.com.