Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2007

Local pastor experiences Christianity in Nepal

August 23, 2007

It's not always easy being a Christian.

The Rev. Darin Kearns of Hesper Friends Church learned that firsthand when he went with a group of missionaries to Nepal from June 26 to July 13.

In Nepal, Christians sometimes face persecution, he said.

Realizing their struggles helped him to come to terms with his own faith, he said.

"It just really opened my eyes, strangely enough," Kearns said. "It opened my eyes to realize the sacrifice Jesus made even more intensely than ever before."

Before he had the opportunity to come to terms with the Nepalese situation, Kearns and other members attending congregations belonging to the Evangelical Friends Church-Mid America conference had to earn money for the $3,900 per-person trip.

It was a salt shaker mission, Kearns said.

"The idea is that we are to be salt or light to the earth," Kearns said. "That's where we got the idea that we are to be salt shakers."

Kearns, the only member who participated from Hesper Friends, joined a group consisting of people ranging from high school age to adults.

The 12-member group attended a four-day retreat before the trip to orient themselves to the culture and situation. Kearns learned not to take too many clothes because electricity is scarce. He also learned about the political situation and conflict between the Nepalese Royalists and the Maoist party.

Even with the orientation, Kearns still found aspects of the Nepalese culture surprising.

"The culture was very similar to Mexico," Kearns said.

The buildings and the skin color of the locals each reminded him of his previous mission trips, Kearns said.

A guide met his group when they finally arrived to Katmandu, after several airline delays.

The guides included a former Eudora resident and an established congregation builder ---- Bob and Debbie Adhikary. Debbie Adhikary graduated from Eudora High School.

Throughout the trip, Kearns visited the churches and communities founded by the Adhikarys.

"Right at first, they didn't realize I was the pastor at the church," Kearns said.

The congregation members at Hesper were excited he was able to meet the Adhikarys, he said.

In addition to guiding them through Nepal, the Adhikarys also served as translators.

Kearns had the opportunity to preach at some of the congregations formed by Bob Adhikary.

The Nepalese style of celebrating a service is different than what he was used to, Kearns said.

"One thing that was different is that we sit down," Kearns said.

The experience also gave him practice speaking through an interpreter.

Overall, the transition was smooth, he said.

"You've just got to remember where you left off," he said.

The trip also included opportunities for two trained nurses, and Kearns, who used to work as an EMT, to perform limited medical services.

The missionaries also performed skits and sang songs to spread their message.

While in Nepal, Kearns took a flight to see Mt. Everest, he said.

"It was awe-inspiring," Kearns said.

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