Early in 2014, the Wishard Chapel Community Church and United Baptist Presbyterian Church of Mount Ayr embarked on a donation drive to build two
in the country of Nepal. This process was in cooperation with International Cooperating Ministries (ICM), an organization founded almost 30 years ago by Darrell Rosser.
ICM is a nonprofit, trans-denominational, para-church ministry whose goal is to build new church buildings for the poor around the world. Every cent donated
by their supporters goes directly to the materials needed or for land for the church structure that is to be built. The organization's expenses are totlly
underwritten by an endowment established by Rosser. In those 30 years, over 5000 churches have been built in 73 countries.
The two churches built through
the local Mount Ayr congregations were erected in two small mountain villages, Binaya Biruwater and Birenchoek, located near Pokhara in western Nepal. In November
2014 Pastor Michael Maddy of the UBP church and Connie Richards of the Wishard Chapel congregation traveled to Nepal to represent their individual churches
at dedication services for the two buildings.
Upon arriving in Nepal it was immediately apparent that the country itself was very poor. Every foot of livable
ground is occupied either by people and buildings or fields that grow crops and sustain the livestock. The country is so deprived that most men of working age
have left for other countries where jobs are more readily available, thus leaving the country populated by women, younger boys and older men.
In Kathmandu, the
capital of Nepal, it was also evident that the buildings that housed the residents were of minimal quality. Traveling through Nepal is like traveling through a
slum the size of Chicago. People were poorly dressed, animals roamed the streets and there was a look of hopelessness on the face of each person. It becomes
even worse in the mountainous regions of Nepal, where the poverty is even more extreme and the availability of water and fresh food is limited. In the outskirts,
most homes are merely shacks or tents, and the road system throughout Nepal is only two-lane, curving and steep, making any travel extremely dangerous.
[Page 8] The devastation from recent earthquakes makes the sitution even more appalling. As can be seen on the local newscasts, many of the buildings are in total
ruin and the majority of the residents continue to live outside in the streets and makeshift cardboard shelters.
From the outset of the earthquake, the members
of the Mount Ayr congregaions were fearful of what the situation might be in the two small villages where their particular churches were built. The lack of
communication and information coming out of Nepal was frightening. Wishard Chapel Community Church and the United Baptist Presbyterian Church were recently
informed that the area where the two church buildings were erected was right in the epicenter of the recent quakes.
There is good news in all of this,
however. Since ICM requires strict building codes, it was discovered that the buildings that were erected by the ICM partners were not damaged at all. As
a matter of fact, the earthquake occurred during church worship services sparing many people immediately. While the church buildings were not damaged, they
have since become disaster relief centers, giving aid to the surrounding community. They are able to house people, provide food, medical assistance, love,
hope and encouragement.
"Nepal continues to be in dire need of donatons for reconstruction," said Maddy, "so anyone wishing to make a contribution where
100 percent of the funds donated will go directly to the relief of the citizens may go to icm.org."
According to Maddy, the United Baptist Presbyterian
Church had designated the year 2015 to procure funds to build another new church with the assistance of ICM in the country of Tanzania. The building will be
dedicated to the memory of Judy Cunning, who passed away this last year. Judy was an enthusiastic supporter of IMC ministries. She and her husband Dan traveled
to Tanzania within the past several years to tour new church buildings there. The Cunnings have dedicated their lives to helping those less fortunate.
"If you would like to honor Judy," added Maddy, "you may do so with a designated donation to the Mount Ayr United Baptist Presbyterian Church in the name
of Judy Cunning."
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015