Former president of the Nepal Baptist Church Council and ex-Ghurkha soldier, Tula Rai, has moved from Nepal with his family to live in Reading where he has begun a new Christian ministry to Nepalese people in the UK.
Mr Rai (46) will be working full-time to share the Gospel with Nepalese people within the UK. His aim is to also establish and encourage long-term Nepalese Christian fellowships and churches within Nepalese communities across the UK.
Mr Rai will be working in partnership with the International Nepal Fellowship (INF), an international Christian mission organisation that serves Nepalese people. INF has conducted health and community development work in Nepal since 1952, but this year has begun a new initiative to address the needs of Nepalese communities around the world.
There are an estimated 100,000 Nepalese people living in the UK, including retired/ currently serving Ghurkha soldiers, businessmen, students and immigrants.
“My vision is to locate and build relationships with Nepali people in the UK and bring the good news of Jesus to them,” said Mr Rai. “I will help to address their social, cultural and spiritual needs. For Nepali people that are already Christians, I will be giving pastoral care and encouraging fellowship, outreach and evangelism. It will be a huge challenge, but very exciting.”
Mr Rai says that his new ministry began with a call from God, which was confirmed at the Baptist World Alliance Centenary Congress that was held in Birmingham in 2005:
“Anderson Baptist Church in Reading invited me to attend the Congress in Birmingham on behalf of Nepal Baptist Churches Council. At Congress, many of the speakers emphasised the decline of churches in western countries and an increasing number in Asia. One of the speakers was urging Asian leaders to send missionaries to the West. I knew God was saying that it was my time to go and witness in West.”
In 1995 Mr Rai founded Lalitpur Baptist Church, the first Baptist church in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. The church began with 13 people and today has over 400 members and five sister churches.
Mr Rai was president of the Nepal Baptist Church Council (NBCC) from 2003 until he moved to the UK in July 2007. At NBCC he was responsible for co-ordinating and mobilising 110 churches and 360 fellowships.
As part of INF’s new initiative to serve Nepalese people in the UK, INF is supporting another family that moved from Nepal in August 2007 to do the same work as the Rai family: Pastor Abraham Shrestha, his wife Kate and their four young children have settled in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Mr Shrestha has begun doing the same work as Mr Rai across the UK.
INF UK Chief Executive Officer, John Reynolds, said: “INF has a new long-term vision to encourage and support Christian ministry amongst the worldwide Nepalese Diaspora. The arrival of Tula and Abraham marks the beginning of this exciting work in the UK. I would like to encourage Christians to pray and support this new ministry, so that many Nepalese people might come to know Christ.”