For 60 years UMN have been reaching out to the poor and vulnerable in Nepal, particularly those suffering from stigmatising illnesses like HIV/AIDS. Now they are helping churches in Nepal to think differently about the society around them, and giving them the ability to reach out to those who are the most vulnerable: the young, the elderly, and the sick.
They do this through a process called Sangsangai, an adaptation of what is more commonly known as Umoja or the Church and Community Mobilisation Process. Umoja means ‘togetherness’ or ‘unity’ in Swahili, and the process has revolutionised communities in many countries where Tearfund works. Now UMN are using the approach in Nepal.
UMN are using Sangsangai to teach local churches and denominations in Nepal about the wholehearted message of the gospel. Often the church has been stunted, tied down to preaching only about eternal salvation, and ignoring the challenges of those living in poverty. UMN want to see the church live out Jesus’ heart for the poor by opening their eyes, hearts, and hands to the wider community.
The first stage of the project is rooted in Bible studies, exploring God’s message to the church about looking after the poor in our communities. They also talk about the gifts that God has given to His people, seeking to break the dependency on outside help. This approach strengthens churches, raising up new and effective leaders who are able to read and interpret the Bible and make decisions independently.
In the second stage, the church will begin to look at the community around them with fresh eyes, identifying the resources that they already have, and the most present needs of the people around them. The church will be supported by UMN and trained facilitators at every step of the process, as they are educated, equipped, and mobilised to make a difference.