Report on the Nepal Center for Biblical Studies Extension School
I was honored to have the privilege of teaching I & II Timothy and Titus at the extension school in Nepal during the week of November 8-12, 2010. Along with the seven students, some twenty to twenty-five visitors attended the classes. The experience for me was unforgettable and very valuable. There are so many things which I have taken for granted because my experience in the church has been limited to the United States. Teaching one week in Nepal has changed that a great deal. I am grateful to the church of Christ at Little in Oklahoma, the Nepal Center, to Bear Valley, and especially to Jerry and Judy Golphenee for making this experience possible.
One problem with reporting on my week in Nepal is that my experience there was also very limited. Anyone reading this report should understand that it is impossible to have great insights after only a few days of exposure to the school and the culture. Anyone who believes he has a good understanding of the church in Nepal or the impact of the school should realize that such understanding can come only from a more intimate and long term arrangement than being a guest speaker for a week.
Having said that, I also believe even a guest speaker can learn many things and gain some insight into the present and the future of the school.
I believe there is a great value in having guest teachers visit and teach at the school. A foreign teacher is an occasion for brethren to gather from across Nepal and associate for that time of special teaching. The fellowship may well be more valuable than any special information gained. The visit also seems to be a special encouragement for the students. It is important for all of us to have a global concept of Christianity which comes to us best when we actually “rub elbows” with brethren from around the world.
I am still assessing the value of the trip personally and for the work in Nepal. I would certainly return if I were able to do so. In some ways, the cost of the trip could be used instead to provide for teachers, students, and local preachers in Nepal. However, I am afraid that too often we send our money and not our hearts to the work of God’s kingdom.
I believe some consideration should be given to ensure that guest speakers are a boost, an encouragement, and a relief for the work of the teachers at the school. If the guest proved to be a drain on his hosts, I’m not sure there is an easy way to let him know that so he might improve. Constructive criticism is difficult to give and receive, and no one would want to discourage a teacher. However, a simple evaluation or “report card” might be a valuable for guest teachers.
I was very impressed with the learning level of the students at the Nepal Center. Jerry did a great job in preparing me for the challenges of teaching them. As the week progressed, I believe I learned to ask better questions in order to draw out insights from the scriptures. Because of language barriers and some cultural aspect of the learning process, I took a while to fine tune my teaching approach. The students were very patient with that process, and I believe they gained some insights into the books of Timothy and Titus. One advantage of having teachers return to Nepal is that the previous experience should make them much more effective in later visits.
I am not used to teaching long hours in a school setting, so I was impressed with the students’ ability to stay focused on the learning tasks and to absorb the material. I was surprised that we were able to cover all three books in the time allotted, but I believe we learned together about setting the church in order and how to be good servants in the kingdom.
I prepared a workbook to guide my teaching and supplied one for Jerry and Gajendra. That was valuable for me as a teacher, but it would have been helpful for the students to have a copy. I realize some of the difficulties in translation and
know it was impossible for the students to have that material in time for my visit. I am not offering a criticism but perhaps a plan or dream for the future. If the school could develop some simple workbooks in Nepali, for the students to take to their work after graduation, I believe this would be valuable. Probably the work of the school is overwhelming enough to preclude such a work in the near future, but it is possibly a goal for later. The preachers of Nepal might be involved in such a project to great advantage.
My impression of the school is very favorable. I can see great potential in sending out students to preach the word with a firm foundation of training in the scriptures. I can also envision the critical role of the school in the future of the church in Nepal. The fact that many local preachers came together for a week of study and fellowship is a good sign for future unity and growth.
I look forward to hearing of progress being made by future classes. Jerry emphasized the need for the Nepali brethren to send good students to the school in order to prepare them to preach. I hope and pray that that the reputation of the school and graduates will establish a tradition of good men with good hearts preparing to serve God in Nepal.
Gajendra and Jerry seem to be a great team for directing the school. Gajendra is very kind and gentle and is a wonderful model for the students (and everyone) of what the Lord’s bondservant should be. Even though his manner is gentle, he is still very much in charge and seems to receive the utmost respect from the students.
Jerry and Judy should be considered national treasures for the church in Nepal! I do not believe that is overstated. Their dedication and sacrificial service to the work is amazing. Although The Children of Kathmandu program is separate from the school, it shows the heart and commitment the Golphenee’s have to Nepal. Jerry’s work as teacher in the school is invaluable.
Future of the School
Although I believe the school is in the best of hands, and it is hard to conceive of the work without Gajendra or Jerry, I also believe thoughtful consideration should be given to the future of the school without one or both of these men. While I was in Nepal, I was encouraged by the planning of an advisory board of men from Nepal. Jerry often emphasized the need to turn the work over to the brethren in Nepal. The fact that the brethren are thinking about greater responsibility in the work is a very good sign. The school could serve very well as the focal point of growth, unity, fellowship, and sound doctrine for the whole nation for years to come.