The National Theological College (NTC) on the outskirts of Kathmandu was perhaps the biggest mind-blower we experienced in the Fall of 2015. We knew there were Christians, but a seminary emerging from the devastation? However, there it was, home to 14 bright, energetic, devoted seminarians, most not born Christian.
When asked how I might help out in Kathmandu, Reverend Rinzi Lama, the founder of the college, suggested I could teach there. Stupefied, and being seriously under-credentialed for the post, I resisted. Surely I could help more digging ditches, piling bricks, etc. But sensing my lack of any construction skills or experience, he insisted I was better suited for teaching—especially since I gave him my old Yale Divinity School Master of Arts in Religion card, though he failed to appreciate the word “Candidate” under the title. Real construction workers building a new wing onto the Nazarene Church and children’s home (Anglican) which Rev Lama, his wife Nani Beti, and 46 children call home, were visibly relieved. Plus, I was willing to work for nothing aside from the use of the pastor’s motorbike to get to the college, which mostly ran dry of petrol as we were in the midst of the fuel shortage. (See footage of the motorbike out of gas in Kathmandu.) The crisis has passed but when we shot this the seminary was nearly out of wood (propane was long gone) and low on rice; running on little more than faith alone. But morale was unaffected.
This video was taken from footage we rough-cut several months ago which touched the hearts of our first big sponsor: All Souls Episcopal Church in Miami Beach, which raised more than $1,000 during Lent to provide an LCD projector and the school’s first Chromebook (one for each student is the goal. Want to help? Click here.) to hold classes. An internet hookup was also funded so we can communicate online. (A website is taking shape at ntcnepal.org). We are currently holding classes from New Haven from 3P-5P Thursdays Kathmandu time, which is 5:15A-7:15A east coast time. We are currently teaching the 2nd half of the New Testament course from Romans through Revelation. TheoEco’s plan is to conduct research in conjunction with the NTC to answer questions like: Why is the church growing in Nepal? What effect is Christianity having? What are some of the issues?
Women and men study together at the NTC and many denominations are represented including Anglicans, Presbyterians, and others. In many ways the NTC is like seminaries everywhere--but in so many others, it is unique. Not just its earthquake-proof steel frame architecture, but where it is, and its people, make this place unlike any other. Few seminarians elsewhere wake up earlier for morning prayer, which begins at 4:30 AM. 12-hour power blackouts, washing clothes daily by hand, and studying almost exclusively from Bibles without benefit of personal computers is their college experience--as they prepare to spread the Gospel in some of the most seemingly inhospitable places on earth for Christianity.
But the smiles and the Word are the same for seminarians everywhere. And as we see in the footage, studying John is universal.