Wednesday 28th February
On my last day here in Kathmandu I visited the Nepali Baptist Bible College. Andy Saunders, a BMS worker who teaches at the college, took me to an unmarked building in which the college is housed. The building is unmarked because a Bible College is technically illegal in Nepal. There are more than 40 students living and studying in a fairly small space, but with all the usual college facilities, including a library, a chapel and a computer room. The dining room is a shack in the building’s garden. There, the college cook – a former Maoist fighter – makes meals for all the staff and students on a couple of gas rings.
I met a group of students in the garden where we shared questions and answers about life here and in the UK. I asked the students whether they had been brought up in Christian homes. Of the six, one was the daughter of a pastor, but the others were born into Hindu families. Becoming Christian had cost them, in that their relationships with other family members were strained. Some were not encouraged to visit, others were welcome, but were not able to join in with the many Hindu festivals that are part of community life here. We may think that it’s not easy being a Christian in the UK today, and while I heard no stories of outright persecution, to be cut off from one’s family, in a country where family is very important, is a high price to pay.
One final thought. I have enjoyed walking around Kathmandu and I am now able to find my way back to the hotel via a few different routes. Crossing roads is something I have also now mastered. There are zebra crossings, but they are meaningless. When there are no traffic rules, it makes sense for there to be no pedestrian rules either. People just cross where they want and if a car or scooter is coming, they wait to see who blinks first.
It was a little different in Delhi in that people tend to join a group of people who are crossing the road, with the idea that there’s safety in numbers. I was thinking about this idea in a more general sense. In St Albans the numbers are in favour of western – i.e. white – people. We are the majority. It is interesting to be in an environment where the numbers are not in our favour and to see what being different feels like.
That’s it for now. Final few hours here and an early flight tomorrow to Delhi and then on to Heathrow. If people are interested, I’ll put together some pictures and some further thoughts about this journey to share with you.