Roughly 60 kilometers outside Kathmandu, Nepal, Kedar Maharjan takes a slow turn as he navigates his van up a steep dirt road. Nearly a dozen dots pepper the map on his cell phone, which is propped on the dashboard. “Each one is a church we’ve helped plant,” Maharjan says, adding that most were begun in the past couple years. He’s taking a group into the remote Sindhupalchowk region to distribute In Touch Messengers.
In Chautara, he’s forced to find an alternate route—most of the region’s roads sustained damage from a massive earthquake in 2015, and many are still being rebuilt. Though road closures make ministering in the mountainous area far more challenging, the spread of Christianity in the mostly Hindu nation hasn’t been slowed. According to a 2013 study, Nepal has the fastest-growing body of believers in the world. And Maharjan says the In Touch Messenger plays an important role.
In his day job, Maharjan is the lead audiovisual technician for Koinonia Patan Church in Kathmandu—the organization sending him into remote areas to equip new Christians. A technophile, Maharjan quickly gravitated to the solar-powered Messenger as a way to both evangelize and disciple a burgeoning rural church, where electricity is scarce.
Survivors sought out something to put their hope in.
Maharjan says thousands have requested the device, but with only so many to go around, he’s judicious in distribution; when possible, he gives a single Messenger to a family, expecting they’ll use the speaker function to gather and listen to the Word of God. He prioritizes pastors, many of whom farm six days a week and have little time to prepare sermons. With the Messenger, they are able to listen while they work.
More than 8,000 died in the 2015 earthquake, most of them in Sindhupalchowk. Homes and businesses were destroyed. Survivors sought out something to put their hope in, and Christian leaders in the area noticed a marked difference in the number of people coming to the Lord. The church in Chautara doubled in size to nearly 400 people in the two years following the quake.
The task is time-consuming—it often takes Maharjan half a day or more just to reach a village. Having an audio Bible to leave behind when he moves on provides him the comfort of knowing ministry will continue even in his absence. He realizes that in the end, it’s the work of the Spirit moving among his people to build a foundation nothing can shake.
Photograph by Ben Rollins