A first in Rochdale!
By Kerry Allan | United Kingdom in Europe
Ram Shrestha has no regrets about leaving a fruitful ministry in South Asia to move to the UK and help a church plant share the gospel in Greater Manchester.
The respected and experienced missiologist, who’d been praying to serve as a mission workers for more than ten years, recalls: “My heart was so thrilled when I felt God’s call on my life could be fulfilled through SIM UK’s ENGAGE programme.
“Its vision is to bring gospel workers from the majority world to serve the diverse people groups growing in the UK.”
Ram is serving at the Good News Community Church (GNCC) in Rochdale, where he helps the church connect with the local multi-ethnic community by bridging cultural gaps, responding to needs and sharing the gospel.
“Rochdale has the highest level of asylum seekers anywhere in England and most residents are completely unchurched,” Ram explains.
“I lead the team sharing the gospel on the streets and in the markets, while partnering with other organisations to meet the needs of refugees and homeless people in the community.”
Ram Strestha and his wife Keshari moved to the UK three years ago.
Soon after arriving in Rochdale, Ram and church leaders prayed for the chance to open a bookshop and when the GNCC moved to a new town centre venue, they were able to create a shop on the ground floor.
“We’re so very thankful to the Lord that by his grace, our bookshop is the first of its kind in Rochdale!” says Ram, who speaks English, Urdu, and Hindi.
“The shop is well stocked with books in different languages such as English, Arabic, Urdu, Chinese, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Farsi, and a few other dialects of Asian countries. It’s a wonderful way to meet new people and befriend them, alongside our street evangelism and weekly English classes,” he adds.
Students from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Romania, Pakistan, India, Italy, and El Salvador attend the free English language classes and are invited to stay on for a second session and hear Ram teach from the Bible.
“I see so much enthusiasm from these students as they become more confident and able to express themselves,” says Ram, “and I thank the Lord that every week, he’s enabled me to teach them and share the message of Christ.”
Weather permitting, Ram also mans a mobile bookstall, which he sets up at various locations around the town that has now expanded to run three times a week.
This gives him the opportunity for conversation, debate, prayer, witness and more. Other initiatives have included a community BBQ and kids play-day, which helped break down diversity barriers and allowed opportunities to build relationships, trust and the opening to share about Jesus.
“My wife Keshari and I also invite people to our home for meals because food plays a vital role in building relationships and it’s been a joy to talk and debate with them,” says Ram, whose three-year missionary term ends this month.
“The Lord has blessed us in our ministry and we’re really thankful to our praying friends and supporters who’ve stood by us in prayers, finance, and also visiting us in person.
“We’ve prayerfully said yes to the offer of staying, but need a visa so we can continue the ministry God’s blessed us with. The Antioch Network is working on getting a licence from the Home Office to sponsor us and we pray it will be God’s will to provide it.”
• For the successful renewal of Ram’s and Keshari’s visas to allow them to stay on in the UK.
• Give thanks for the unique insight Ram brings to his ministry.
• For SIM UK to be able to help more churches in the UK connect with the multi-ethnic communities on their doorstep.