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Faith is still alive

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015
Arun Moktan in his residence in Kapan on Sunday. Photo by Om Astha Rai

Arun Moktan in his residence in Kapan on Sunday. Photo by Om Astha Rai

When a deadly earthquake struck central Nepal, just before noon on 25 April, nearly 80 Christians had congregated at a protestant church in Kapan, Kathmandu.

Arun Moktan, a 30-year-old taxi driver, a member of the congregation and he – like other worshippers – was kneeling down quietly when the church started shaking violently.

Everyone got up and started crying and screaming, but they did not try to run away because their church was on the sixth floor of a seven-story building.

“We realised that we would not be able to escape unhurt from a high-rise building,” he says. “And our pastor was also asking us to stay calm.”

In a matter of few seconds, the iconic building of Kapan area was uprooted and fell to the ground, killing 26 and wounding 49 worshippers.

“It tilted for a while and then just collapsed,” he says.

Arun was holding on to the door, praying to God to save his life. “We were all buried under the rubble,” he says. “I was lucky to survive.”


The debris of a seven-story building that collapsed in the earthquake in Kapan, Kathmandu. Photo by Om Astha Rai

Arun’s right arm got fractured and he still has livid bruises almost all over his body. He had parked his taxi in the parking area of the church building. The taxi was completely destroyed by the debris.

Even after witnessing the horrific death of his church members, Arun has not lost his faith in God.

“Those who died in the earthquake were taken to heaven by God,” he says. “God left me to struggle on the earth. My survival has a purpose and it is to continue serving god.”

The earthquake demolished the Kapan church but could not deter the faithful worshippers from their weekly prayer. On the first Saturday after the earthquake, they gathered in a room under corrugated sheets to pray.

“Our bodies are mortal but souls are immortal,” says Arun. “But our souls die the day we lose faith in God.”

The Kapan church that collapsed in the earthquake was an extension of Cannan Pray House, a protestant church in Buddhanagar of Kathmandu. Ever since it was set up in Kapan, Arun had been going there every Saturday and on other religious occasions.

Cannan Pray House has its extensions in Thali and Gwarko of Kathmandu, Chilankha and Laduk of Dolakha and Peepal Chaur of Kavre as well. Its Kapan and Gwarko extensions were completely destroyed while other churches have some cracks.

More than 300 Christians affiliated with various extensions of Cannan Pray House have been affected by the earthquake.

Thousands of students possibly survived the earthquake because it was on a Saturday. But because of this same reason, more Christians were affected as they were in their weekly congregations.

No one has, yet, collected the information on the amount of damages on churches in central Nepal. National Council of Churches Nepal (NCCN) and Christian Federation of Nepal (CFN) have just started assessing the extent of loss.

The Kapan church collapse has also exposed the vulnerability of church buildings in Nepal.

Activities of churches and Christian organizations were restricted in Nepal until 1990. After the restoration of democracy, the number of churches flourished. However, most of them were set up in haphazardly-built buildings.

Radha Krishna Baral, pastor of Cannan Pray House, says they knew that Kapan’s seven-story building was not earthquake resistant but they could not find any other safe place to extend their branch.

“Though Nepal is now a secular country, the state still doubts our activities and it is difficult for us to find a perfect place to build our church,” he says. “So we set up churches in any building we get.”

Baral, however, says the recent earthquake has taught them a lesson and they will not compromise the quality of buildings before setting up their churches in the future.


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8 Responses to “Faith is still alive”

  1. Thapa on Says:

    Question to you, media and everyone, why such strong faith on other religion are not taken and published.

  2. Grimalzee on Says:

    “Experience” versus” Faith is the question.

    Dharma should never be abandoned says Vyasa ,author of thegreat epic, Mahabharata.
    In the last and closing verses of the epic, he says so to his son Shukadeva.

    This is called Bharata Savitri, The Gayatri of The Mahabharata.
    Na jatu kamat na bhayat na lobhat,

    Dharmam tyajet jivitasyapi hetoh;

    Dhamo nitya sukha dukhetvanitye,

    jivo nityah tasya hetustvanityah.

    Never should one give up DHARMA,under the influence ofsesory cravings (KAMA),fear (BHAYA), or greed (LOBHA), even to save one’s life, dharma is eternal, happiness and sorrow are ephemeral; the soul is eternal ,but what caused its embodiments ( the body ) is ephemeral.
    -Swami Ranganathananda translation : source.

    Dharma has no adjective.

  3. Tashi Lama on Says:

    It is sad to hear these loss of many lives in the church, however it is clearly understood that the pastor Radha Krishna Baral knows that the 7 stored house was not earth quake resistant but still they rented the house without thinking on the lurking danger of sudden earth quake and thus it happened on that fateful 25th April 2015. This clearly states that the person who rented such weak house is the sole responsibility of the losses of lives and suffering.

    Nepal is a secular state and the Christian missionary in Nepal has taken all the advantages in converting these innocent Nepalese by all means of clever tactics of conversion, this is so sad and bad for Nepal in the long run.

  4. Gabriel Adagiri on Says:

    May the good Lord comfort the Nepali church and the entire nation in this difficult time. Surely it is a passing phase that the church and the whole Nepali people will come out stronger. Greetings from Nigeria

  5. Mae on Says:

    God created the heavens and earth and sent his son to die and rise (historical facts) to pay for our sins. May he comfort those left in this broken world, as we await his new creation. xxx

  6. Tashi Lama on Says:

    Nepal is country with a older civilization and historical backgrounds much older than rest of the Western world. In reality people of Nepal have their own religion to live with, mainly Hinduism and Buddhism, we have our own religion and oue own culture which is much older than Christianity itself. I understand that we all have freedom to choose our own faith but the way Christian missionary convert innocent people is quite tricky and very professional one. Innocent people are either tricked, threatened, lured or fooled with empty promises, I heard such many stories from may villages, this is not good at all and it will bring communal disharmony in the near future, it is because of creating differences in the society, even in the family members too. We can see that that in many countries i.e.Nigeria, middle East and even in Burma.

    Believing in someone who created this world is all nonsense and baseless concept, this concept of creator god obstructs our intellect to find the real truth with logical facts. Logically and Scientifically speaking everything is interconnected or interdependent, there is nothing independent like creator. Everything depends on our action. Anyways wise and learned ones choose the right path with the concept on non-violence and on the principle of interdependence of everything. We are master of our own destiny, not the slaves of this God or that God.


  7. Tashi Lama on Says:

    Hello Mae and believers of creator God, why not ask your God to create a world without earth quake, without famine, without sickness, without poorness, without disease, without typhoon, without flood, without Tsunami, without a war and without any disaster in this world, than he or she can be called something Great Creator God, otherwise you are all fooling yourself by not using your own intellect on analyzing on the fact of our existence and on the existence of this world.

    On that very tragic day of earthquake on 25th April, many died in the Church itself, why your god God not coming to save the believers? Stop fooling yourself and others too!

  8. Suman Lama on Says:

    Hey Tashi,
    you need to make up your mind on what you believe. You write, and I quote”we all have the freedom to choose our own faith” and on the other hand you insult the faith of Christians. Are you trying to say that this freedom is only extended to Hindus and Buddhists(I say this in reference to you comment above). If not, you should not have any complaints when people choose to live life as per their choice of faith, be it Christianity or any other. What we need to know and understand very well is that we are all Nepalese whether we are Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims or Christians. In this hour of need, we all need to hold each others’ hands and move ahead to build this nation of ours and show the world what Nepal and Nepalese are all about. Peace brother.

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