Learning to work together – from building bike sheds to repairing roads

Church and community mobilisationIntegral missionWhole-life transformation

It’s a long bike ride of up to two hours for some members of Emmanuel Church, in the Bardia District of West Nepal. It is also very hot outside the church in the summer. As a result, tyres would often burst on the bikes left in the heat of the church yard.

A woman repairs her bicycle in western Nepal. Photo: Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund
A woman repairs her bicycle in western Nepal. Photo: Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund

Inspired learning

Pastor Sarkuram wanted to do something about this but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. ‘There was no proper system for organising bicycles, shoes and sandals at the church. We had recognised this problem long ago, but we weren’t able to carry out a plan to resolve it,’ says Sarkuram. 

So when he saw an integral mission workshop was being organised by Sagoal, one of Tearfund’s partners in the area, he took himself and the church leadership team along. 

They were inspired by the practical teaching during the workshop and wanted to put this learning into action. ‘The workshop encouraged us to identify and utilise local resources and work together,’ says Sarkuram. 

‘During the workshop we learnt that Jesus calls the church to participate in God's mission to redeem and restore all of creation. When sin entered the world, relationships between God, people and the rest of creation were broken. God wants to restore these relationships.’ 

Plan of action

Towards the end of the workshop each participating church had to prepare a plan of action. So Sarkuram and his leadership team prepared detailed plans to build shoe racks and a proper place to keep bicycles. In order to follow a plan, they answered the questions: who, when, how and where. 

Back at church they presented their plans to church members. The church decided to use its funds to buy materials such as wood, straw and bamboo, and contribute labour to complete the project. ‘The church yard looks neat and tidy now,’ says Sarkuram, ‘both bikes and shoes are properly protected from heat and rain.’ In addition, they have placed a dustbin in the church yard and encouraged members to use it and not to leave litter everywhere. 

‘The integral mission workshop taught us the importance of encouraging participation of the whole church including all its members. This has helped the church to grow.’

A woman riding a bicycle in Nepal. Photo by Lucian Alexe on Unsplash
A woman riding a bicycle in Nepal. Photo by Lucian Alexe on Unsplash

‘A good leader creates an environment so that every church member finds a place to contribute based on their God-given gifts and talents.’

Pastor Sarkuram

Good stewards

During the training Sarkuram was really struck by the message that as human beings we are stewards of this world and we must take care of God’s creation. ‘The Bible verse Genesis 1:31 – God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day – inspired us all.’ 

As a pastor, Sarkuram learnt that a good leader creates an environment so that every church member finds a place to contribute based on their God-given gifts and talents. ‘Think big and start small, making use of what you have,’ he says. 

The church is currently experiencing growth both spiritually and in terms of numbers, says Sarkuram. ‘Local people have appreciated the tidiness around the church. And the church is involved in cleaning and repairing local roads alongside the community. What’s more, we plan to work more closely with local people on other community issues.’

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