How EquipNepal Began
EquipNepal’s roots go back deep into, yes, the 1970s! Bud and Jan Viren, lived in NE Minnesota. Bud’s dad was a pastor of a small independent church in Grand Marais, MN, and his church began a ministry relationship with some ministries up the Gunflint Trail called Okontoe Mission Outreach and Adventurous Christians. One of the men involved in the ministries there was John Davidson.
A few years down the road, Bud and Jan found themselves in the same Anatomy and Physiology class as lab partners. They hadn’t known each other before this, even though their high school was small, because Bud had spent the first 14 years of his life in Grand Portage, before his dad moved the family to Grand Marais. Bud invited Jan to his youth group meetings and activities, which were sometimes held at Okontoe. She got to know John Davidson, too.
Buzz ahead to 1999: We now were married and lived in NE Wyoming by this time (having “followed coal” through North Dakota and Colorado), and we were blessed to live near and attend church with some former Okontoe family. Our sons became friends. Their son was going to attend DTS at YWAM-LA’s base, where John Davidson was now a director, and our son was excited to go, too. We drove the two boys out to LA and got reacquainted with John.
After that, we started supporting John and stayed in touch with him. One day he invited us to go with him to Nepal, as a part of his job was to travel to the teams on outreach and see how things were going. We love to travel and are up for almost anything, and so we said, “Yes!” As we readied for the trip, I recall being very concerned about the hard things I expected to see. I read a quote from Dr. Robert Pierce, founder of World Vision: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” I began praying a hard prayer: “Lord, break my heart for the things that break Your heart!” And so in January 2001 we traveled to Nepal with our hearts open.
And the Lord answered my prayers. But, as is the Lord’s way, He had more in mind than just simply giving us an adventure and breaking our hearts. In my brokenness, I saw beauty and hope! John introduced us to Babu and Sabitri Varghese who, at that time, lived in Birganj, Nepal. They were caring for about 18 children in a rented upper-story of a home (Blessed Children’s Home), with no regular support. We were so touched by the exuberance and joy that the children displayed! And the love and commitment that Babu and Sabitri expressed to the children and to the Lord. And the inspired visions they had (and still have!) of what could be for the people of Nepal. They just needed someone to help.
As Bud and I prayed, the Lord brought to mind (crazy!) Sally Struthers and her TV ads for child sponsorship for a large non-profit organization. We thought, “We could do something like that.” All we needed was photos of the kids, and their stories, and good communication with Babu and Sabitri. Babu put us in contact with Dr. Rick Sadler of MissionLink International, who had once offered to do the wiring of funds if Babu could find someone to fundraise for him in the USA. We returned back to the States and put together a loooooooong (but extremely interesting…) presentation to our church family (Family Life Church in Gillette, WY), and people started sponsoring kids right on the spot! We were shocked and amazed, and extremely blessed and excited. Two convictions that we stood on then and still stick to is that “100% GOES” and we’re a “team of volunteers.” So we, from the start, began to trust the Lord to cover all the expenses we needed to run a ministry, including wiring fees, and we have no paid employees.
We worked with MissionLink for about 2 years and then Dr. Rick suggested that we form a “satellite” ministry under MissionLink. The Lord works so wonderfully in connecting people, and so by the time we decided it would be a good idea, we already had an outstanding board. One board member was the mother of a young lady from Gillette who had also gone on outreach through YWAM-LA to Blessed Children’s Home. Karen and I became friends, and she was automatically “on board” with us, because her daughter had shared about the Babu and Sabitri’s ministry. We all prayed about a name, and the Lord gave us EquipNepal, along with the motto, “Proclaiming His Word, Empowering His People.”
We worked with Mission Link until 2012, when our board and I were led to apply for our own nonprofit status. Since the beginning we have learned a lot, had many challenges and even more blessings, and have learned to trust the Lord every step of the way. We could have never imagined this happening, but we are so glad it did. What a joy to serve!
Here is Our Heart
EquipNepal links with ministries and missionaries in Nepal to encourage and support their efforts in evangelism, church planting, discipleship, and meeting physical needs.
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name, make known among the nations what He has done.” – 1 Chronicles 16:8
The Poor and the Orphaned
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with 42% of its population living below the poverty line and an unemployment rate of 47%. Further, the restraints of the caste system and the violence caused by the Maoist insurgency contribute to the loss of housing, jobs, and family. Through monthly gifts, the lives of young children are transformed. A loving home, food, clothing, education, and Christian discipleship make such a difference! Give a child a better life for as little as $30 a month.
National Churches and Evangelists
Although the number of Christians in this predominantly Hindu kingdom is growing (an estimated 450,000 in 2004), there are significant challenges to accepting and walking with Christ. Most villages are isolated and can only be reached by trekking rough terrain.
Though there is freedom of religion, it is illegal to participate in converting others to Christ (“proselytizing”). Gifts to national churches and evangelists help to support their work in sharing the Gospel in the most remote areas to peoples yet unreached. Give toward a church planting or project (any amount), or sponsor of an evangelist or pastor ($75 a month).
Nepal has a literacy rate of only 45% (63% of men and 28% of women) and is unable to offer free public education to its young people. It’s very difficult for children to gain any vocational or professional skills and, therefore, a hope for a better future. Gifts for education promote leadership, as well as technological and other necessary skills for the children who are the key to Nepal’s future. Sponsor a child’s education ($15 a month for tuition, uniform, and school supplies) or contribute toward the continuing education scholarship fund (any amount) so that older children may attend college, Bible school, or vocational school.
National Ministries and Outreaches
National ministries in Nepal desire to be self-sustaining or less dependent on Western funds. One effective method begins with opening children’s homes and other hostels or centers where vocational training is provided, such as fish farming, jewelry making, and gardening. Other viable ministries need outside funds to jump start specific projects that reach out to women rescued out of prostitution, street children, those trapped in poverty and addiction, and those who don’t have the word in their dialect. Contribute to other worthy ministries and projects (any amount); help Nepali ministries grow and deepen their impact for the kingdom of God.