Sowing the Word, Rebuilding Lives

This article was originally posted in our March 2018 Word@Work.

We live in a world that is growing in affluence in many respects. As modernisation rises, many countries become increasingly developed with vast improvements in their economies, infrastructures and technologies.

Amidst such abundance, it is easy to overlook those who “fall behind” and struggle to “keep up”, sometimes even in the most basic ways. There are communities of people in many developing countries who still live in less-than-ideal conditions. Their lives and livelihood are also affected by frequent traumatic events such as natural disasters. And, most distressingly, they still lack access to God’s Word in any form or medium.

Such dire needs concerning both material and spiritual well-being make consistent mission efforts in these communities even more urgent.

Case study: Nepal

Nepal is one example. With high levels of hunger and poverty, it is one of the least developed countries in the world according to the United Nations. Its transport infrastructure is generally inadequate and its health care services are poor. Its physical geography makes it an earthquake-prone region, and floods are a frequent occurrence from seasonal monsoon periods.

In April 2015, the country was hit by the worst earthquake in its recent history. More than 20,000 aftershocks of varying magnitudes occurred during the subsequent year. Almost 9,000 were killed and 3.5 million left homeless. Thousands of houses were destroyed and entire villages flattened. Relief and rescue work began quickly with local help and international aid, but recovery has been dismally slow since.

In November 2016, The Bible Society of Singapore sent a team on a Bible Mission Trip (BMT) to Nepal. Team leader David Phung recounted:

It was only when we were there that we saw how badly affected they were. Another sad thing we realised was that four families tore down their houses so that they could use the zinc roofing sheets to build houses for us to stay just for a few nights.”

Together with staff from the Nepal Bible Society, the team visited an orphanage with young children infected with HIV, befriending them and sharing God’s Word with them through Bible distribution and Gospel storytelling.

They also visited Ghyang Sukathokar, one of Nepal’s remote villages that received little help since the earthquake in 2015. There, they distributed zinc sheets and T-shirts for the rebuilding of homes and keeping them warm through the coming winter. God was even pleased to bring some to faith in Christ through their service!

“As we shared Christ’s love with the villagers during our speech to them, the Holy Spirit moved in our midst. Two villagers later approached the Nepal Bible Society staff and said that they want to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the Lord!” — Choo Sheng En, a participant of the BMT team to Nepal

Since then, we have received updates that more than nine villagers have also believed in Christ, with many more expressing great interest. A new church has also been planted in the village. What a great joy and privilege it is to not only take part in sowing the Word and rebuilding lives, but also witness the bearing of fruit to God’s glory! We are grateful to God for our many donors, volunteers and participants who have made the giving of such care and blessing possible.

The work goes on

Nevertheless, there are many other people in Nepal and other countries who need the same help and hope. In July 2017, Nepal was again hit by another disaster—the worst monsoon flood it has seen in several years. One-third of the country, mostly comprised of its poorest areas, was flooded. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were also devastated by similar widespread monsoon flooding. By early September, the total number of people affected across these countries topped 45 million, including 16 million children.

During an interview in November, Rev Priyantha Wijegoonawardene of the Ceylon Bible Society described the situation on the ground:

“There is an urgent need for medicine, proper food, pure water and sanitation. There were so many diarrhoea conditions and health issues that occurred. More than 80,000 people are affected by dengue fever and 300 deaths have been recorded up till now.”

The Bible Society of Singapore conducted a nationwide fundraising drive for affected families from September to November 2017, and also assisted in the provision of basic relief necessities and Scripture tracts. Another Bible Mission Trip to Nepal has also been scheduled for March this year to further assist rebuilding efforts.

Much still needs to be done, with many in the world longing for relief and comfort not only materially but also spiritually. Join us in the Bible Mission, so that they may know and experience the life-changing hope that God gives through His Word!