Vineyard Himalayas: A 25 Year Journey So Far

Todd Rutkowski, Mar 1, 2022, 8:09 PM
Todd Rutkowski National Catalyst of Vineyard Emerge

Noel & Dona Isaacs came from Northern India to Winnipeg, Manitoba in the mid 1990s for 3 months, to join the church planting team led by David & Anita Ruis. They were part of the beginning of the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard. During this time they discerned God's call to plant a Vineyard church in Kathmandu, Nepal and work among the Riverbed people... the poorest of the poor in the city. With the "sending" of Noel & Dona little did we know what God would do over the next 25 years.

Many years and many stories later we have invested much of our Canadian heart in shared worship and prayer, laughter, tears, jet lag, and trips back and forth to Nepal/Northern India. We've shared good times, hard times, miracles, earthquakes, military coups, deaths, births, weddings, and so on and never would we have believed how God would weave hope and life change into the unfolding narrative in the Himalayan region. Over 2500 new believers now belong to over 30 Vineyard churches as the Kingdom of God continues to expand in the Himalayan Region of Nepal and Northern India. The Vineyard churches are largely led by first generation Christians who are trained through our mobile bible school.

Then on April 25th, 2015 while pastoral staff from Winnipeg Center Vineyard were visiting the Kathmandu Vineyard a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal killing over 8,000 people and leaving nearly 3.5 million people homeless in the region. The earthquake was both overwhelming and galvanizing for the Vineyard community in the region. Whole villages where Vineyard churches were located were made homeless and cut off from supplies. We saw an incredible outpouring of funds from around the globe through our Vineyard family. In the relief stage tarps, food and medical supplies were sent in for our team on the ground to serve our communities and their neighbours. A helicopter was secured through a mission organization and medical help and supplies were delivered to the cut off communities. During the relief stage 7,400 bags of rice, 600 blankets, 217 sleep bags, 360 tarps and 50 tents were given out to help as interim food and shelter. There were 5 medical outreaches serving over 2,000 people in the relief efforts.

In the rehabilitation stage over 424 homes were rebuilt or subsidized, 217 lots cleared of rubble, 9 church building were rebuilt or subsidized, 36 micro businesses were started or upgraded in Kathmandu and a 5km (3 mile) road was built to access a remote village destroyed by the earthquake. A plot of land was purchased for 11 families, who were previously landless and due to their class and social status were unable to own land. Over 21,000 people were impacted by this small team and their international partners.

This event brought the Himalayan Region Vineyards (HRV) leadership team to new heights and deeper connections. The HRV team made up of Noel, Silas, Mikma, Raju and Ramesh became a solidified team. They have been on a journey since early 2016 to have the Himalayan Region become their own National/Regional Church planting movement and sit at the International Vineyard table. Due to political unrest in the fall of 2017 we had to postpone the "celebration" party for the Vineyard Himalayas release. However, they have started to function on their own as a equal partner within the Global Vineyard while we wait for the right time to host a celebration.

After much work with the earthquake dreams continued to emerge that would create sustainable opportunities for the Vineyard work in the Himalayan region. One of those dreams was a fish farm in the mountains where access to fish was limited. An investment was made and after building ponds and learning the art of raising fish, the local team in Sikkim (a state in Northern India) sold their first batch of fish at the market in November 2019! Another dream that emerged in 2017 was to rebuild the Kathmandu Ministry Center that was severely damaged in the earthquake. Several business people got together and the attached story of kingdom creativity and courage was born - a ministry centre and a boutique hotel. (There are amazing pictures of the project you don't want to miss). The hotel will serve as a way to fund ongoing ministry. As you read the story ask the Lord if you are to be apart of the final finishing of this amazing journey.

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