Teaching in Nepal, 2 to 8 October 2017

October 17, 2017Tim in 1977

A week has passed since I boarded my plane in Kathmandu to begin my journey home, bringing an end to my mission there. I am now ready to share my report, and hopefully give you an idea of what the mission was like, and what I would characterize as its successes and failures.

(Those of you who know me recognize that I am not a slave to "positive thinking." I don't feel bound to put a happy face on everything. I know that "all things work together for good," but I know that often happens in spite of my mistakes. I would prefer to be a help and not a hinderance to God's purposes.)

First, there are many people to thank, beginning with you who uphold this work by your prayers and offerings. Never allow the great accuser to persuade you that I take your contributions for granted – nothing could be further from the truth. It is a continual surprise and a blessing to receive your support, and I am honored to accept it. I accept your donations as your sacred investment toward the furtherance of the Gospel and your own eternal rewards.

Special thanks to three people who were particularly invested in this mission: Sabdong Tamang, who served as my representative during the preparations, and my interpreter during the mission itself; Dr. Prakash Lama, the principal of the Nepal Presbyterian Theological Seminary who opened the doors of his school to me; and my friend Daniel Bucher who was "a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7), and helper throughout.

My primary purpose in coming to Nepal was to teach on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which I did on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoon, and all day Thursday and Friday. My audience was a combination of first and second year theology students. On Monday and Tuesday morning I taught individual studies, first to the 2nd year students alone, and then to a combined class. On Saturday morning (the day of worship in Nepal), I gave a sermon first at The Lord's Assembly Church, and then at the school chapel. On Sunday morning I gave a final sermon at the school chapel to close out the mission.

Daniel also was granted the opportunity to share. On Tuesday morning he taught on "Asking God," and on Saturday he taught at Sabdong's home church. On Sunday morning he was asked to give his testimony at the school chapel. He opened his talk by confessing he did not know what it meant to "give a testimony." Daniel's unpretentious ways can be quite a shock to people who are accustomed to seeing a great deal of posturing from the pulpit. This is one reason I believe he is so beloved.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that one must use the spiritual gifts in order to teach about them. I had devoted much time to my preparations, but once the classes began I needed guidance from above to know how to reach this particular audience. One of the adjustments I made was to enlist Sabdong as my interpreter, even though I had prepared for an English-only presentation. All the students spoke English, but my American accent made my words "mumbo jumbo" to their ears. I could tell by their questions that a lot of my points were not getting through. They were also unfamiliar with the form of English used in the King James Bible, and this added another layer of difficulty for them. In their classes they read from the New International Version.

Now as far as I am concerned, nothing beats hearing and reading the Bible as it appears in the King James. No other English version so captures the majesty and poetry, and I have found no reason to distrust the accuracy of this translation. But the next time I teach an audience for whom English is a second language, I will (reluctantly) use a more modern version. I do not want to travel to the other side of the globe just to "speak to the air."

I made another miscalculation in my preparations that will also be corrected. My presentation on the spiritual gifts, "In the Power of His Might," normally divides into two halves: 1) why Christians need the spiritual gifts, and 2) what the gifts are and how they are used. Part One covers such topics as why we need the Bible, the fall of Satan, the original sin, and the two-fold redemption of man through the new birth and putting on the new man. But in this presentation, I began with Part Two. Because time is always an obstacle, it seemed like a good idea. But almost all of the questions concerned topics I usually cover in the first part of the class. I did not have time to give the full explanation their questions deserved.

This is not to say the presentation was a failure. Far from it. Parts of it, I felt, were my best and clearest presentation ever. I gained much insight into teaching that I can use in future events. But always what I am hoping for is nothing less than an Acts 4:31 experience ("And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness"). That, of course, is not under my jurisdiction.

I am blessed and honored to say that the administrators of the Nepal Presbyterian Theological Seminary have granted me carte blanche to return to teach their students whenever it is possible for me to make the journey. This is a golden opportunity for someone like me who finds no greater thrill in life than to make the Bible plain to people who are hungry to learn. I count it a great privilege to speak to young people who are just beginning their ministries at a time my own ministry is drawing ever-closer to its conclusion. Hopefully I have gained some wisdom along the way that can help them circumvent the pitfalls I fell into. I will dedicate myself to making my presentation as clear and simple as it can possibly be.

My second mission to Nepal reinforced the love I acquired for this country and her people on my first. I feel a connection to my Nepalese brethren that I cannot explain, and as long as I am able, I hope to be of service to them.

Through my new co-workers in Nepal, there are now other areas of concern that have opened for me to explore in Nepal, Malaysia, and to the pastors of Bhutan. God willing, I will find the grace to pursue this to the end.

I have not forgotten, nor do I intend to forsake, my ongoing work in Africa. Have you ever seen the movie Multiplicity in which a guy clones himself in triplicate so he can finish all his projects? I am prone to the same feelings of frustration. So little time, so much to do. But I trust God to lead me down the paths he intends for me, and steer me clear of those things that will only consume my limited time and resources.


It was a long process, but this summer I finally completed my revisions to my Power Point presentations on the books of Acts, Joshua, Ruth, and other topics. These are now all accessible HERE. Because most of these presentations incorporate audio, you will get the smoothest playback if you download the entire file and then watch it from your computer. But that is unnecessary if you have a fast internet connection.

This November, Nelly and I will be traveling north to Michigan where I will teach at a fellowship hosted by our friend Shawnee Vickery. Back in 2005 when we moved from Texas, Michigan was our other choice of where to live. But cold weather is not Nelly's friend, and so Louisiana won out (not for that reason only, because we had dear friends here, too).

It is hard to believe that we are entering the last two months of 2017! If you've been listening to all the chatter about blood moons and signs in the heavens, you will know many Christians are surprised we are still here. But remember what Jesus said: "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning" (Mark 13:35). Also remember that the same people who dispute the literal interpretation of this verse are the ones who predicted we'd be gone by now.

This does not take away from the fact that this is no time for procrastination. There remains great work to be done. In some areas, the Christian challenge is simply to avoid being swept away by the madness of our times. In other places, exciting advances are being made into cultures that were once entirely resistant to the Gospel. Let us stand together and strive together through our prayers for that one great Church that belongs to Jesus Christ.

In the service of His Majesty, the King of kings,

Tim Sullivan

You can view some photos from our mission here.