Over the past quarter, we’ve been diving into Mission ONE’s work with the Cave People. The Cave People, also known as the Chepang, are an indigenous group in Nepal that our partners have been ministering to for over a decade, helping them build homes and start a goat microeconomy to sustain an income. We’ve explored how the church can play the role of reconciler and restorer. We’ve explored the value of dignified work, and how the project with the Cave People can serve as a model for locally-owned community development.
As we wrap up our blog series, here are a few things that we can all learn from the Cave People and their transformative journey, even in the midst of struggle:
Endurance Builds Perfect Faith
When Mission ONE showed up in 2008, things were not looking good for the Chepang. At the time, they were living in extreme poverty with hillside caves as homes, foraging the dangerous Nepalese jungle for food and their everyday needs.
Mission ONE partners in Nepal began ministering both spiritually and physically to the Cave People, planting a church for the growing community of believers and helping build better housing for families. Unfortunately, shortly after, a landslide destroyed the whole village, forcing the Chepang to rebuild their village and start from zero. Women like Naramaya lost her entire family in that landslide. To support herself, she began hauling sand from the river to sell in an attempt to cover her daily expenses.
In contexts of poverty, families often are struck with hardship after hardship as they make ends meet. However, they don’t give up. Naramaya and so many other Cave People persevered despite the devastating landslide. Just as James encouraged the early churches in James 1:2-4 to “consider it an opportunity for great joy” when troubles come our way, we can also remember that endurance is part of the end goal. “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
When COVID-19 hit, the Cave People had developed an endurance in faith that put them in a position to witness God’s goodness.
Nothing Is Impossible With God
COVID-19 shut down global economies and left uncertainty in its wake, Nepal included. As we walked with the Cave People through their hardships, our partners were strategically navigating ways to provide food relief and sanitary supplies, despite the strict lockdown with COVID-19.
In our work with the Cave People, we had already seen God move mountains, including paving a way for the Nepalese government to recognize the Chepang and build public infrastructure for the community. Despite the challenge of finding available food during the pandemic, we saw the Chepang’s unwavering expectation of a miracle, knowing that nothing is impossible with God. As they waited for God to move, He did: in the early days of the pandemic, Mission ONE received special travel privileges from the Nepalese government to deliver food to the Chepang!
God’s Work Isn’t Finished Yet
Bishnu was a young Chepang adult in his mid-twenties when Mission ONE first began working with the Cave People. At an age when young adults in the United States would be graduating from college and starting their careers, Bishnu’s low-caste status as an “untouchable” prevented him from getting jobs other than sanitation or manual labor. Even then, those jobs were hard to sustain and far away, requiring him to commute long distances from his home into the nearby city. For most of his life, Bishnu struggled to make ends meet— and his story is not uncommon. Once Bishnu came to faith, he felt convicted to care for his community, but had no opportunity to do so.
Nonetheless, Bishnu continued to press into a deeper calling for ministry, knowing that God still had better plans for him and his entire community. He wasn’t satisfied with continuing to pursue the manual labor jobs he had known his whole life. Through Mission ONE’s ministry to the Chepang, today Bishnu is thriving in his God-given calling and pursuing a new beginning. After being mentored and taught by Mission ONE partners in Nepal, Bishnu is now pastoring the main church in the community. He has also started Bible college and a three-year pastoral training program.
In the midst of struggle, the Cave People’s ownership of their own future and their growing trust in God has multiplied our impact alongside them, inspiring us even when there are setbacks. It’s a clear picture of how He continues to bring hope to hard places, showing that neither location or structures can stop His transformational work to make communities more like the Kingdom of God.
This quarter, we are featuring the Cave People in an in-depth series exploring Mission ONE’s impact in Nepal through local partners. Learn more about other Mission ONE projects here.
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