A team from two parishes in Connor Diocese visited Nepal in January. Alan Robinson, from St Patrick’s, Coleraine, gives his account of the trip.

Walking through the streets of Nepal.

Walking through the streets of Nepal.

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It’s never too late to go on a CMSI META team for the first time. I have just discovered this at the age of 64. But then Nepal is a special place to visit.

The Nepal META team of 2015 from St Brigid’s, Glengormley, and St Patrick’s, Coleraine, came to bring greetings from Ireland and to lead seminars on basic Christianity for SD church in Kathmandu

John McCammon, far right and Alan Robinson, centre, from St Patrick's Church, Coleraine, with, from left, Nevin, Bill, Eleanor and Peter.

John McCammon, far right and Alan Robinson, centre, from St Patrick's Church, Coleraine, with, from left, Nevin, Bill, Eleanor and Peter.

The church was started by BK, a disabled man, almost 20 years ago. Now, assisted by his wife and a team of elders, the church is full each Saturday. It is probably the only Christian church in Kathmandu that welcomes and cares for the disabled.

Two of our team had been here before, but this was the first time they had seen the new building for the church’s compassion ministry, SS. They noticed that, although the facilities are much improved from the old carpet factory the church used to use, the spirit and feel of the place remains.

The main work of SS is the PN Programme. Patients from outlying districts requiring specialist treatment arrive in Kathmandu and are brought to the hospital and navigated through the system.

After treatment, they recuperate in the new building that can now house up to 50 patients and their carers. While they are there, they hear about Jesus and many want to learn more. In this way the church has now sent the Gospel message to 64 of the 75 districts of Nepal. Some are able to join an existing Christian church, but if there is none, they even start their own small fellowship.

The team also got to see, hear and smell life in Kathmandu in all its rich diversity. Small motorbikes are more numerous than cars. The record was a family of four on one. The tailor on the pavement uses his sewing machine. On the butcher’s counter open to the street a goat’s head eyes us suspiciously each time we pass.

Going to church at the Leprosy Colony near Kathmandu should be on everyone’s bucket list. The walk there alone was an experience on a rough track past neat fields worked by hand, mostly by the women. The scenery is beautiful with mountains all around.

Near the end of the walk there is a very long suspension foot bridge, think Carrick-a-Rede on steroids!

We were welcomed at the church and given rugs near the front to sit on. Singing was acapella, very enthusiastic and worshipful.

After the service, some people requested prayer for healing from the team, who were happy to do this. The younger generations in the colony mostly have never had leprosy and the older folk are now ex-lepers, but many are disabled because of the disease.

The leaders’ seminars we came to teach were held over four days. Some of the participants had long, difficult journeys from distant parts of Nepal, taking over a week to reach us. When they arrived, there were about 47 of us present.

As the seminars went on, the participants warmed up and worship was more enthusiastic and questions for us increased. At the last session we had the privilege of praying for each person individually.

After the seminars, we attended both churches again on Saturday and Sunday. Wonderful worship and a great welcome.

Then it was off to Pokhara, west of Kathmandu, for the team retreat. It is in a beautiful setting with a lake and views of the distant Himalayas.

It was a great time of refreshment and allowed us to process all we had experienced. In discussions everyone was very positive about how the seminars had gone, about SD church and its leadership team and about how well we, as a team, had gelled.

From Pokhara, we all made it safely home. When you think of how good the travel was, how short and minor the illnesses were, how well the seminars were received, how the strikes failed to stop us, how much love we received from the folks we met, you will understand that we have a great God who answers prayer.

Thank you to all who prayed for us and thank you to all at CMSI who made it happen.

The Nepal team comprised Alan Robinson and Canon John McCammon from St Patrick’s, Coleraine, and the Rev Bill Boyce, Nevin Kidd, Eleanor Boyce and Peter Kirch, all from St Brigid’s, Glengormley.

* For security reasons we can only print initials when referring to the church in Nepal and those who work in it.