When Arbin Pokharel was a 3-year-old in Kathmandu, Nepal, his father died. His widowed mother was unable to care for all 5 of her children. Although her family was Brahmin, she entrusted Arbin and a sibling to Mendies Haven, a Christian orphanage. Mendies Haven allowed sponsors to take few children for further education abroad and some settled in the United States. Arbin came to the US and received theological training as an exchange student through one of these opportunities.
While preparing for seminary and missions work at a Michigan college, he met and married medical student Bimala Shrestha. They shared a vision to return to Nepal as missionaries – Arbin focused on pastoral work and church planting, and Bimala on justice and social work.
Arbin and Bimala first moved to northern India where they served a seminary and Nepali church for two years before returning to Kathmandu. Back in their native Nepal, the Pokharels planted Cross-Way Community Church, which is leading a church planting movement called Napali Reformed Church (NRC). In just 14 years they have planted a total of 32 churches, and their vision for the future is ambitious.
"Cross-Way is a well for grace, from where we’ll draw and serve," Arbin said, "and Christ-centered churches will be planted across 75 districts of Nepal." Cross-Way provides leadership training, discipleship and other ministry trainings, and develops teaching and other resource materials for NRC churches.
The Pokharels' ministries go beyond Cross-Way. They also focus on Reformed and Presbyterian Seminary, a Bible College where Arbin is a teacher and president of the board. The seminary offers bachelors and masters degrees and trains pastors and leaders in theology, worship and Christian leadership.
Bimala is founder and CEO of Higher Ground Nepal, which serves women and children at high risk of exploitation and trafficking by providing the necessary skills and job opportunities to live and empowered and dignified life.
"It takes regular reminding that God is active all across the world and the world needs your help and prayers," Arbin said. "We as missionaries are a living example or testimony of God’s work across the world."
Join us for World Mission Sunday, August 18. We welcome the Rev. Arbin Pokharel of Cross-Way Church who will guest preach in the 10 am Hall Life Center service. After the service, enjoy brunch in Sumners Hall and shop a lovely selection of jewelry created by our world mission partner, Higher Ground Ministry. You can also greet Arbin and Bimala Pokharel there, and learn more about world missions at St. John the Divine.
At the 5 pm service, Bishop Mano Rumalshah from the diocese of Peshawar, Pakistan will preach. Immediately following the service, you are invited to stay for a question and answer session about Christians in Pakistan: their faith, their families and communities, and the difficulties of living as Christians in a Muslim majority country.