Changing the church, changing the community
Story from Sunsari under Integral Development
Rev Gajendra Khan Thakuri is Pastor of Budhabare Baptist Church in
Letang village, Morang District. There are more than 150 believers in
his church. He was looking for the best way to link with and enter into
the community, and he said he had struggled for quite a long time to
find a solution to overcome his challenges.
In 2012, UMN Sunsari conducted Church and Community Mobilisation Process training (Sangsangai in Nepal), and Gajendra was one of the participants. "After participating in the training, I understood the process and how to link the church with the community to address common issues," he says. He strongly realised the importance and benefit of healthy relationships between church and society. He even realised that the church has a role to play as a change agent in society. When Sangsangai was introduced in the church and the envisioning process began, the church identified environmental issues as a key topic. "After discussion with the community, we established a tree nursery and constructed a road together," says Rev Gajendra. He not only mobilised his church members in tree planting, but he also asked the community to participate. In the beginning, they planted 300 tree seedlings in a field. Later, they planted 100 more tree seedlings. He says, "Society has begun to recognise the presence of the church in the community after tree planting and other activities."
At present, both the church and community are actively involved in protecting the existing planted trees. He said, "The church has a further plan to continue to work with the community to conserve the environment with hope that working together will be an opportunity to be witnesses to Christ through words and actions."
He has learnt the following lessons from the Sangsangai process:
- The usefulness of good co-ordination between church and community in development;
- The importance of positive thinking and team work among the members and leaders;
- The role of the church in mission;
- The need for church members' skill development to be able to work with community;
- That the church will be accepted by society when working with the community.
By following the Sangsangai process, impact and change will be realised in the community - and in the church!
By Arjun Tamang
UMN Integral Mission Officer, Sunsari