Kiwi youth find fellowship in Nepal and Myanmar

By Andrew Colgan

In December 2006, four young people from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand visited Nepal under the auspices of the Global Mission Office. Andrew Johnston, Sophie Parnham, Andrew Colgan and Geoff Cooper had been invited by Uttam Kumar, who we met a few months prior.

During our stay we were hosted by Hope for the Nations, a recently-established grass-roots organisation run entirely by volunteer staff, with two main outreaches. The first is to orphans and disadvantaged children. There are currently two Hope children’s homes in the Kathmandu area. The homes are intentionally small - no more than 12 children per household, with a mother and father in order to have the atmosphere of a family rather than an institution. It is believed that the “family” size is necessary to form a connection of love and respect with the children.

The other major outreach is the establishment of development programmes in poor rural communities. We visited the HFN model community in Nawalprasi (southwest of Kathmandu), where the organisation had assisted a core group in establishing a church and setting up water.filtration units and income-generation projects for needy families.

Political instability and widespread poverty create a difficult and uncertain environment for the organisation. Despite these challenges, and problems with financing, those at HFN remain committed to the physical and spiritual needs of disadvantaged people in Nepal. The HFN vision is deeply rooted in the Christian values of love, compassion, stewardship and social justice in serving God. As well as being humbled by the generous hospitality we were shown and the friendships we made, we were very impressed by the amazing determination and passion of all at HFN to bring about their vision of hope and brighter future for those in need in Nepal.

HFN is a fantastic partner for a New Zealand parish or community looking for an outreach overseas. For more information, contact the Global Mission Office or email apcolgan@yahoo.co.nz 

From Nepal we travelled to Myanmar, after a short stay in Thailand. Our visit to Myanmar was arranged with members of the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar during their visit to New Zealand during last year’s General Assembly. Myanmar (Burma) is one of Asia’s poorest nations, ruled by what is widely regarded to be one of the world’s oppressive regimes. After a short stay in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), we travelled up to Tahan, a small town just outside the troubled Chin state and around 30km from the border with India. Tahan is the home of the PCM Assembly Office and several of its outreach programmes. As the first youth delegation to visit the PCM in over a decade, we spent a lot of time with the students of Tahan Theological College teaching some English and learning about the enormous challenges faced by youth, especially Chin youth, in Myanmar. With the help of Council for World Mission funding, the PCM has established the College, a “baby home” for orphans aged 3-18 and the Agape Medical Clinic in Tahan, providing a significant outreach to many in a seriously disadvantaged part of the world.

While we were there, the PCM was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding and launching its new forward-looking objective of “standing on our own two feet” (at present it relies heavily on funding from CWM). The highlight of the trip for us all was the time spent with the amazing people of Zo Synod from which our friend and guide Go Khan Suan came. In what was a thoroughly enjoyable yet eye-opening two weeks, we learned a huge amount and forged some strong friendships that will hopefully be the beginning of a long relationship between Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand young people and the youth of PCM.

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