JACKSON, Tenn. – Feb. 4, 2008 – A 10-day trip to Nepal was cut a little short for Union University Christian studies professor Ray Van Neste, as a student protest over gas prices shut down the city of Kathmandu, including the airport.
Van Neste was originally supposed to leave the country at noon on Jan. 23. But his host feared that the student riot might disrupt Van Neste’s original travel plans, so they left for the airport before dawn instead.
Despite the development, Van Neste, associate professor of Christian studies and director of Union’s R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies, considered his trip to Nepal a success.
“I was going to be a part of a group that was going to provide higher level biblical training for area pastors,” Van Neste said. “(Pastors in Nepal) don’t have access to very much at all. Many of them have no access to any sort of biblical teaching. A lot of faithful guys are out in the middle of nowhere, they’re preaching the gospel, seeing people converted, seeking to disciple them, but they don’t have access to tools or resources.”
Eagle Projects International sponsored the trip, and Van Neste taught about 120 people, including students from the small Nepal Bible College, verse-by-verse through the biblical books of 2 Timothy, Titus and Romans.
The host pastor for the training event, whose name must be withheld for security reasons, is one of the key Christian leaders in all of Nepal, Van Neste said. He is the pastor of one of the country’s largest Christian churches, and he runs an orphanage as well.
“He and his disciples have planted hundreds of churches in Nepal and elsewhere,” Van Neste said.
During his time in Nepal, Van Neste visited a Hindu temple, where he watched animals’ throats being slit for sacrifice. He said people at the temple were clambering to touch their god in a little box.
He also encountered faithful Christians who have had to endure persecution because of their beliefs. One of the pastors he met is a former Buddhist priest. When he converted to Christianity, the Buddhists in his community burned down his home and drove him out of town.
“I was just impressed with them, with how little they have, how much they suffer, and yet the joy and real spiritual power that they have,” Van Neste said.