"Himalayan Peoples - Missionary Peoples!"

A Report on HIM-COE '98
20-24 April 1998
Darjeeling

The official opening of HIM-COE '98 (Himalayan Congress of Evangelism) was scheduled for Monday the 20th of April at the picturesque Indian hill-station of Darjeeling. But it really began four days earlier, the evening of April 16th, when 20 young torch-bearers were dedicated to the Lord in a special torch-lighting ceremony at Siliguri, in the plains at the foot of the hills 88 kilometers away (the site of HIM-COE '96 two years earlier). At 5:00am the next morning they began a four-day Torch Procession up into the hills, a public proclamation of the torch of the Gospel being lit throughout the Himalayas. Open-air public rallies and prayer meetings were held at churches all along the route, where local Christians replenished the torch's oil and joined in the rally for miles at a time. Despite the searing heat of the plains, blistered feet, and rain and fog blanketing the upper hills, the young torch bearers' enthusiasm was never dampened, rather built to a crescendo as they approached the HIM-COE '98 conference hall in Darjeeling. Triumphant in spirit (although weary in body and soaked from the rain) they processed proudly into the hall with torches held high as the opening songs were sung. The torch became symbolic of the fire of the Holy Spirit being lit in the Himalayas, and a new missionary spirit being lit in the hearts of Nepali and Himalayan Christians.

Under the leadership of Rev. Adon Rongong, Chairman of Himalayan AD2000, the plans for HIM-COE '98 began to take shape even during the previous HIM-COE '96, when the emphasis was on evangelism. This HIM-COE the theme was "Missions", God's call to the Nepali and Himalayan churches to move from being mission receiving to mission sending, the call to engage in cross-cultural mission "unto the ends of the earth." About 1200 participants gathered: key Nepali and Tibeto-Bhutia Christian leaders from across the expanse of Nepal, Sikkim, the Darjeeling hills, Bhutan; including Nepali diaspora representatives from Burma, Singapore, Taiwan and Scotland; 13 pioneer missionary guests who served in Nepal, Darjeeling hills and Sikkim, and Bhutan; overseas speakers; representatives of overseas mission agencies and churches involved in the Himalayas; and 150 volunteers from local churches.

Special guest speaker, and chief encourager of the AD2000 movement in Nepal and the Himalayas since the first Congress of Evangelism held in Kathmandu in 1994, was Dr. Thomas Wang. Daily morning Bible studies and plenary sessions brought deeper understanding and inspiration to the theme of 'missions', while eight workshops on different relevant topics held on two afternoons filled out practical aspects of the theme. Two Partnership Forum sessions gave opportunity for key national leaders to meet with mission agency representatives and begin to explore how to link local needs with available resources. In two different sessions Nepali diaspora representatives shared about the situation and needs among Nepalis overseas, and pioneer missionary guests who served in Nepal, Darjeeling, and Bhutan shared from their early experiences and current-day observations. They were honored with special Nepali shawls and HIM-COE inscribed brass plates in a moving ceremony. The testimony of their lives was an inspiration and challenge to many young people, including one young evangelist who shared later that he had been ready to leave the ministry until he met these missionary guests.

On Thursday the Christian Partnership Rally and march through the streets and bazaar of Darjeeling town was a dramatic public demonstration of the strength of the local Christian community. Even pouring rain just as the march started did not deter them. Seventy plus year old grandmothers and mothers with babies in arm marched alongside top church leaders decked out in suit and tie under a sea of umbrellas and bits of hastily sought plastic, singing and yelling Jesus cheers as rain streamed down their uplifted shining faces enroute to the rally grounds two kilometers away. Hundreds came in groups to join in from churches of the surrounding villages and from as far away as Nepal, Sikkim and Kalimpong to the north, and Siliguri in the plains below, swelling the rally numbers to nearly 4000. Onlookers lined the hillside, providing a natural backstop to the football grounds, which although muddy from the rains, the majority of the participants cheerfully treaded through to find seats. Reverent silence filled the grounds as prayers were offered in the various languages of the Himalayas, beseeching God to bring revival to their land and peoples, and committing themselves to reach all those as yet unreached by the Gospel. Rev. Theodore Manaen, well-known former political figure and MP (Member of Parliament), gave a moving testimony, and Dr Thomas Wang challenged all present to work together to reach their people with the Gospel. Joyful clapping accompanied exuberant singing and cultural style dances by Nepal Tamangs, Tibetan, Dukpa and Lepcha groups. Smiles creased the faces of all when the sun finally broke through, and the snow-capped Himalayas could be seen in the distance, a sign to many of God's smiling on those assembled. The people of the Darjeeling hills had been awakened and united in a new way for the common task of completion of the Great Commission.

The Thursday Rally felt like an early climax and many from outlying areas began to leave throughout the next day, although there were important sessions yet ahead. Friday morning participants chose between three special forums on: 1) 'Literacy and Evangelism' and how to meet the needs of the more than 50% illiterate population in the villages; 2) 'Training Needs for Mission' as the church take up the challenge of moving out more in mission; and 3) 'Girls Caught in Brothels', the challenge confronting the church of the tens of thousands of Nepali girls sold into brothels in metropolises and urban centers of Nepal. During the latter presentation, three different interpreters broke down weeping with compassion and sorrow at this tragic situation as they struggled to translate the report given by Miss Liz Taylor of Bombay into Nepali language. Of all the sessions during HIM-COE '98, this merited front-page coverage in a local Nepali secular newspaper, praising the Christian community for their concern. The afternoon was taken up with strategizing for the future and regional planning groups.

The final evening's Closing Ceremonies, led by the HIM-COE '98 Chairman, Rev. H.D. Subba, were marked by a continuing stream of people flooding the conference hall, until more than 1500 crowded in with standing room only. Sounds of exuberant 'Hallelujahs' and 'Praise the Lord' punctuated the praise and worship time as the torchbearers brought the lighted torch back into the hall and set it before all the people. Dr Thomas Wang surprised everyone by leading the huge assembly in a Nepali-language cheer of "We are one!", emphasizing the new sense of oneness in Christ between the people of the numerous denominations and groups represented. Torches for all 16 Himalayan regions were then lit by the honorary missionary guests and passed on to the regional coordinators, who in turn lit candles distributed throughout the congregation. The hall was luminous in a brilliant display of dancing lights, culminating in a joyous expression of spontaneous worship and dance that spread throughout the hall. Mr Daya R. Pradhan, External Coordinator and organizer of the Torch Procession, led everyone in a final roof-raising affirmation of the conference slogan, "Himali Peoples -Missionary Peoples!" - which had taken on a reality in people's hearts throughout the week.

Prepared by Dr Cindy Perry, HIM-COE '98 International Coordinator

HIMALAYAN AD2000

An Introduction by the Chairman, Rev. Adon Rongong

I want to give you a short description of what Himalayan AD2000 is all about. I am glad to say that this movement has been able to complete or fulfill some important and worthwhile programmes in cooperation with various Christian churches and para-church organisations in this Himalayan region.

  1. Himalayan AD2000 is influenced and inspired by the AD2000 & Beyond Movement (International), but is not a part and parcel of it. It, however, agrees with and shares in the latters objective of preaching the Gospel to every individual of every nationality or ethnic group, and of establishing the Church in each such place and group by the year AD2000.
  2. Himalayan AD2000 is not another denomination, church or para-church organisation. Rather it is a common platform for inter-denominational cooperation between different churches and para-church organisations joined together to work for the glory of Christ and for the general good of the Himalayan peoples as per the needs of the present hour.
  3. Himalayan AD2000 seeks no compromise of Christian beliefs and principles, but a common ground for churches and para-church groups who are strongly and rightly committed to their own respective beliefs and principles. We seek to work together mutually in partnership, recognising and respecting each others identities and practices; combining together in order to promote the necessary good work of preaching the Gospel in service of all fellow human beings in the Himalayan region.
  4. Himalayan AD2000 promotes and encourages the creation of an indigenous leadership, for indigenous ministry of the Word as suitable to the Himalayan region, in order to create indigenous spiritual wealth and social welfare in and for the region.
  5. Himalayan AD2000 encourages joint endeavor for the preparation and training of missionaries, and in sending them out for the preaching of the Gospel.
  6. Himalayan AD2000 does not work with those who preach and propagate false Christian teachings and practices, nor with those belonging to other religions, but does work and minister in their midst in pursuance of its aims and objectives.
  7. Himalayan AD2000 incorporates in its fold all the Christian churches and para-church groups who have accepted to carry forward the good work of preaching the Gospel. Its main objective has been "cooperation in fellowship in the preaching of the Gospel", and has made a great emphasis on the said work, pursuing it vigorously.

In conclusion I would like to give a brief overview of what has been done so far:

  1. In October 1994 the Nepal Congress of Evangelism was organised in Kathmandu, in which 1145 pastors and leaders of the churches in Nepal met together and brought out the Kathmandu Declaration for preaching the Gospel of Christ throughout the kingdom. Regional Gospel preaching crusades were also organised successfully in the four regions of Nepal.
  2. In January 1996 HIM-COE '96 was organised in Siliguri, in which nearly 2500 pastors and leaders of the Himalayan region assembled and brought out the Siliguri Declaration for preaching the Gospel throughout the Himalayas.
  3. Now in 1998 (April 20-24) we have just held HIM-COE '98 in Darjeeling, at which over 1000 main Himalayan Christian leaders from eight different countries assembled, together with retired missionary pioneers of the Himalayas, and numerous mission and church agency representatives from around the world - with a resounding call for Himalayan Christians to become missionaries themselves.

In His Service,

Rev. Adon Rongong, Chairman
Himalayan AD2000

For more information, please contact Cindy Perry damodar@himalaya.mos.com.np.<>

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