From Bhutan to Hobart
Pastor Paul Rai
by Laurie Rowston
Paul Rai was born 1 January 1985 to Hindu parents living in Bhutan.
As there was no democracy for Nepalese in that country, the family comprising Paul's Grandfather, parents, three sisters and one brother fled to neighbouring Nepal when Paul was just four-years-old. They lived in Nepal in a refugee camp for 20 years, and home was but tents.
From Hindus to Christians
Even so Paul received his education there. In 2003 the whole family became Christian. Before that, annually, they had to visit the Hindu temple and offer sacrifices at great financial cost to the family. As the debt grew, the family found no peace.
Finally, Paul's younger brother Isaac, not at all well physically, heard the Christian Gospel and when he accepted it, his healing followed. The family became Christian and some persecution followed. But a Christian group formed in the camp.
Transition to Tasmania
In 2007 the family became legal refugees, and in 2010 through the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration, they became part of that year's 10,000 refugee intake to Australia. The family was sent to Tasmania and settled in Hobart.
At first, Paul and his grandmother attended the Hope Church in North Hobart but being some distance from their home, the family began a home prayer group and numbers increased as Paul shared the Gospel with other Nepalese.
Yet it was back in 2003 that Paul first felt called to Christian ministry, and the following year went over the border to attend a Bible College in North India - there were no border controls or visas required.
After a year at this college, he then studied at the South India Bible College, an Asian Mission Seminary, and after three years gained a B. Theol. Paul then returned to the refugee camp, and began an evangelization ministry. By 2008 the Christians had formed a church with Paul as Pastor. Sundays would see 90-100 gathered for worship.
And on to Lenah Valley
In Hobart Paul and his family transferred to the Lenah Valley Baptist Church and in time the Nepalese were offered use of the building for their own church on Sunday afternoons. The Nepalese Fellowship now sees 60-70 folk every Sunday meeting three times a month in the afternoon and once a month the fellowship joins with the morning congregation.
Paul is their Pastor and carries out regular pastoral duties. In the community where they live, he teaches Hindus to drive and in doing so shares his Christian faith; conversions sometimes follow. The hindrance is that the Hindu living in Hobart generally sees Christianity as a white man's religion.
With a steady congregation meeting at the Lenah Valley Church there are no financial worries, and he receives a stipend from the Fellowship.
In 2012 Paul married Manisha whose father is a Christian Pastor in Nepal. On 18 May, 2020 Paul and Manisha became the proud parents of twins Aaron and Aiden!
Please pray for Paul and Manisha as they adjust to being new parents. And especially for Paul as he spends time with his Nepalese compatriots, explains the gospel to them, and pastors Hobart's only Nepalese church.