God always has a plan
September 26, 2017 / By Manoj Chapagai
Editor’s Note: The fall 2017 issue of the Advocate, features stories centered on the theme of “Being God’s love with our neighbors in all places.” One of the stories in this issue profiles Pastor Sean Chanthasone, who has helped form a New Faith Community for Bhutanese and Nepalese refugees as well as a New Faith Community for Karrenni refugees who live on the Northside of Syracuse.
Manoj Chapagai is one of the Bhutanese refugees who is active in his New Faith Community—he is a key person to the ministry not only because of his strong faith, but also because of his excellent English-speaking skills. This is the story of Manoj’s journey to the United States and his journey to becoming a Christian.
My name is Manoj Chapagai and this is a story about my people. I grew up in a small country located in Southeast Asia called Nepal. Although I was born and raised in Nepal, I was never a citizen of Nepal. Long before my parents and I were born, our ancestors along with many other from Nepal migrated to Bhutan.
Bhutan is a country located next to China and India. I remember hearing stories from my parents about the life in Bhutan. I heard stories from my grandmother about how she had a farm and used to play with her friends in Bhutan. I also heard about how my mom first met my dad.
There were many countless story from Bhutan that were passed on to me from my family. The Nepali people in Bhutan had stayed there for more than three generations but all of a sudden like a storm that is unseen a problem was rising in the royal family.
The government of Bhutan decided that the Nepalese should forget their culture and language and adapt to the Bhutanese culture and language. Teachers that used to teach Nepali in school were no longer allowed to teach Nepali. Nepalese clothes were banned from wearing and their language was forbidden. They were not allowed to practice their cultures and customs.
Even amidst all this chaos, God still had a plan. Most Nepalese were Hindus and few were Buddhist , but it was rare to find someone who was a Christian. It was frowned upon to be a Christian. The government didn't want Christianity to spread and neither did the people. If someone was found to be a Christian, their family would likely disown them.
There were still a few brave soldiers of the Lord who went around preaching about the name of Jesus. This caused many to believe in Jesus and become Christian. This angered the already furious government even more. The government decided to exile the Christians. Christians were first to be kicked out from Bhutan. After this, the government was still not pleased so they decided that everyone should be a Buddhist.
Buddhism was the national religion of Bhutan. Although the government wanted them to follow Bhutan's culture and religion, Nepali people were not happy to do so. They had their own culture and religion. This raised up a tension between the government and the Nepalese. As the time went by during the 1990s, the King of Bhutan began the process of ethnic cleansing.
Nepalese were fired from their jobs. My grandfather was a police officer working for the government of Bhutan, but even he was fired. The Nepalese were being tortured and hunted down by the government. Then, during the early 90s, they were deported back to Nepal.
I was born then. While living in Nepal, we had to make our own house and jobs. The government of Nepal never acknowledged us as Nepali because our ancestors went to Bhutan from Nepal. Even during this time God provided.
The International organization of migration (IOM ) stepped in to help refugees settle in different countries. They had their eyes on Nepali refugees. Beginning in 2008, they started settling refugees in different places in the United States of America. Our family also came to America in 2009. It was because we came America that we became Christian and received Christ. In every state of America where there are Nepali refugees, there are at least more than two Nepalese churches.
God had his plan for us even in the midst of all the chaos. If it wasn't for discrimination we faced in Bhutan and Nepal, we would've never been able to come to the U.S. It was because we came to U.S., we received Christ. It is because he knows the plan he has for us (Jer 29:11)