The testimony of my life, by Thir B. Koirala
I was born in a Hindu family in a remote village in east Nepal. During my childhood, my parents were involved in many religious activities and rituals in our home. When I was teenager I began to question who and where God was, but found no answers. At that time I met a communist man in my village who taught communism and Marxist and Leninist political agenda. It influenced my impressionable and curious mind, and I became a communist in high school. It was not easy to be a communist, as it was still an underground political movement in Nepal. I was a very aggressive and angry person at that time. My conversion to communism drove a wedge between me and my father, destroying our relationship. He hated me, as a result.
One day in 1992, I was walking the hour to school, when the postman called me over and handed me a stack of letters to give to my schoolmate. There were more than a dozen letters, total. One was a big, thick letter and I figured that there must be something important and valuable inside. I opened it and found a small booklet with “The Way to a Happy Life” printed on it. I read it and learned, for the first time, about Jesus and the Bible. As a teenage boy I was eager for knowledge and to learn about new things, so I started corresponding with this organisation in Kathmandu. Two months later, I received a new letter from Kathmandu and it was a second booklet and questionnaire. I read it and wrote my answers on the questionnaire and sent it back. I continued to correspond in this way for two years from my village. At the time I was a student leader of my school’s communist student union. My other communist friends suggested that I not read Biblical books and information about Jesus. They said, “This is only a western capitalistic agenda, and American expansionism want to spread their interests through this religion“, but I wanted to know more about Jesus and the Bible so I started to study more deeply.
After two years of corresponding, I received a new testament Bible. I finished reading it within three days. I had yet to meet any Christians personally, and I had never seen a church. Regardless, one morning I went to my room and accepted Jesus as my personal savior. The Holy Spirit worked in my heart and helped me to understand who Jesus is. Other comrades (communist party members) were not happy with me and my choice, but I decided to follow Jesus. I used to pray everyday, though I didn’t really know how to pray – I simply repeated the Lord’s Prayer each time. I desperately wanted to go church and to meet Christians personally, but there were none in my village at that time. When I finished my proficiency level study at the local campus, I began looking for a church.
My uncle was working as a high-level officer in the National Investigation Department in Kathmandu. He invited me to Kathmandu to join this department. It is very difficult to find a government job in Nepal, so my parents forced me to accept his offer. I came to Kathmandu in 1998 and joined the investigation department after receiving a letter of recruitment from the ministry of home affairs. Because of my uncle’s power, I was not required to apply for the job or go through an official process to get it. After a week on the job, a new government was formed, and cancelled all current political decisions implemented by the previous government. As a result, I resigned my position.
After life in the village, Kathmandu was big and unfamiliar to me. One day, when my uncle was at the office, I left the house alone and began walking without a destination. I ran into an old childhood friend on the streets, who I grew up with, we had attended the same primary school in the village. He invited me to his room and I accepted. We spent the day together, and I stayed for dinner. After dinner, I heard singing coming from the upstairs apartment. I have always loved music and sang lots of communist songs in my village as a teenager. I asked my friend about the music, and he told me that the landlord was Christian and that every day they sang Christian hymns.
This was the first time that I had heard a Christian song. I went upstairs, but the door was closed, so I sat in the hallway and enjoyed the music. In the morning, I woke up early and went, for the first time in my life, to meet Christian people. I met the landlord’s wife first, and told her that I wanted to go to church. I asked her to show me where it was, but she told me that I needed to wait for a few days because church was held on Saturday and it was only Wednesday morning. It felt like eternity before I finally had the chance to attend my first church service. It was such an amazing experience. Never in my life had I enjoyed something as much as I enjoyed my first time in church. I still remember all of the songs we sang that day.
I was faithful to learn God’s word and to study the Bible. After two years, I became a youth leader in the church, which was very fundamentalist. Christians were not allowed to watch television, listen to the radio and read the newspaper. I obeyed my church’s rules and regulation, and separated from all world communication.
My church asked me to be a full-time missionary and go outside city to start a new church. After a month I moved to a small village in the northern side of Nepal to share the gospel in an unreached community. Unfortunately, I was badly persecuted by local people and was forced to leave after two months. After six months I went to east Nepal as a full time pastor to start new church.
In spite of being told to be totally separate from the world, I had many questions in my mind. Why should I not read the newspaper? What is wrong with television and radio? Why should we ignore the rest of the world? I prayed and God gave me my answer: there is nothing wrong with materials or any other things in this world but the problem is in the human mentality around these issues. I started to study journalism. After that, many newspapers published my articles about Christian faith and Biblical values. I presented Biblical values and social responsibilities on several radio stations and also telecasted TV programs from national television. It was one of my turning points in my life. I am still working as a freelancer journalist.
I found huge gap between church and community in my country. My church taught me that we are heavenly citizens who should not be involved in social activities in this world, that is not good to work in the secular spaces and communicate with secular people. We were even not allowed to fellowship with Christians from other denominations. You can imagine, a communist young boy separating himself from the world around him? I lived like that for almost 5 years.
In 2005, I was pastoring a new church in east Nepal. A Bible trainer presented a power point presentation about The Good Samaritan from the Bible. All of sudden, I started to cry – I asked God, “Who is my neighbor?” I discovered I was like the priest and the Levite who had walked past the wounded man. God opened my eyes and I decided to serve outside the four walls of the church where the large community was living in darkness. People are facing lot of problems and difficulties. After consulting other church leaders we established a local NGO called New Life Society in east Nepal. We worked with HIV positive people and disaster relief and responses to crises.
From that day onwards, I understood the Bible in a different way. I recognised my neighbors, and I got clear vision from God. Today I am serving God as an Integral Mission promoter or social activist in different ways, and still serving my same almighty God, reading the same Bible, and following in the footsteps of the same Jesus. I believed that God has sent me to serve my community and my nation to glorify his name and kingdom here. As a national coordinator of Micah Nepal I am actively working with organisations, churches, communities and governments.