I recently received the newsletter of the Nepal Baptist Bible College and was attracted to an article by Mizo worker to Nepal and Professor of the Nepal Baptist Bible College, H. Laltlankima.
His statement about ‘Theological Education in Nepal and its Challenges’ is interesting to gain a better appreciation of the work in that country but it also provides an illustration of the issues facing theological educators in many needy countries of the world.
Here are some excerpts:
The Need for Good Quality Theological Education
* The first Bible College that offers the B.Th. degree in Nepal is only about 20 years old.
* The church growth in Nepal is phenomenal, however, many of the pastors/leaders are without any theological or Bible training.
* Theological study outside of Nepal is not possible for many students because of financial problems and being involved in ministry. Therefore good theological institutions in Nepal are imperative.
* The rise of cults has meant it is important for leaders to be well equipped in what they believe.
* There are real advantages in studying theology in one’s local context.
* Studying in the local context makes possible the continuation of one’s ministry.
* Most seminaries are ill-equipped in terms of library and faculty. Most seminaries are housed in rented facilities without much space for extracurricular activities.
* More than 90% (or 35) of the Bible Schools and training centres in Nepal are concentrated in Kathmandu.
* There is no unity and cooperation among the theological institutions and Bible Schools.
* Many of the Bible Schools and theological institutions are not affiliated to any recognized universities, and therefore students suffer when they want to pursue higher studies after graduation.
* Many teachers are not well equipped to teach.
* Many teachers are part time teachers who cannot give full attention to the institution and the students.
* Churches are not yet aware of the importance of theological education; hence contribution from the churches and individual student for the building up of the theological institution is minimal.
The author writes about the challenge of accreditation, affiliation, the need for innovation and creativity, the desire for effective, relevant and dynamic theological education and the hope for developing a Nepal Christian theology.
The needs are great in Nepal and many other countries could echo the same concerns and challenges.
It will not solve every challenge but the gift of well-trained teachers who are culturally-attuned, who travel to Nepal or another country to undertake a one or two week intensive, is a very helpful contribution.
Do write to me if you have a week to spare this year or sometime in the future.
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Two Nepali theological students involved in dramatizing the Word, testimony to the creativity that abounds in these people.
Thanks to H Laltlankima for writing this article and Principal of the Nepal Baptist Bible College, Subash Pradhan, for permission to republish excerpts from this statement. Do write to me if you want a copy of the complete article.