Ram Strestha is a respected and experienced missiologist who has chosen to leave behind a very fruitful ministry in South Asia to serve with a UK church-planting network in Rochdale.
Ram is among a group of new workers joining SIM UK’s pioneering ENGAGE programme, which brings gospel workers from overseas to work in UK churches and help them to bridge cultural gaps within their communities.
“I’m very thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to teach and preach across my home country for many years,” says Ram.
“By his grace, I was able to set up a national body, through which we trained thousands of pastors, leaders and youth, but I’d been praying to serve as a mission workers for more than 10 years and felt it could be fulfilled through SIM UK’s ENGAGE strategy,” he adds.
SIM UK connected Ram with The Antioch Network, which has various church-planting projects in the north of the UK, including Rochdale, which is a multicultural town with people from many nations, including Iran, Pakistan, India, Romania, Iraq and Africa.
By 2025, The Antioch Network aims to plant at least 16 churches in deprived areas of the UK.
However, Ram’s journey to UK mission wasn’t straightforward — especially when Covid travel restrictions meant he and his wife Keshari found themselves stranded in the UK for six months.
“After visiting different places, God spoke strongly in our hearts that we should look for an opportunity to serve in the Rochdale are, but at the end of our first visit, the airport back home suddenly closed five days before we were due to fly,” he recalls.
“Kind and gracious friends sent gifts of money to meet our immediate needs and opened their homes to us. SIM UK then paid for our PCR tests and the airfare to return to South Asia while we waited for our visas.
“Then when the vaccination rollout began, thankfully we were able to alter our flights to arrive a few hours before the new ‘red list’ quarantine regulations were introduced.”
Since arriving in Rochdale, Ram has wasted no time in beginning his ‘community mercy’ ministry and regularly takes part in prayer walking and volunteering in a charity shop.
“We’re enjoying being able to move around freely and talk to people; sharing the gospel on the streets and inviting people to our house for meals,” he says.
The couple have also launched a new bookstall outside the church they serve, which has been attracting people who are open to conversation and prayer.
Ram is also leading Bible studies and preaching, although his strategy as a cross-cultural worker, won’t be to only use the local church to bring people for worship as he says the building can be “a barrier” for many ethical groups.
As the couple learn to adjust to a new context and culture, Ram says it is “a joy to meet people and build relationships”.
“While stranded in the UK and staying in three different places, I’ve learned to depend upon the Lord in whatever circumstance I may have to go through,” he adds.
“I know God sends his people to help and support in times of hardship and watches over us in our times of trouble.
“We were so excited when we finally got to move to the UK, but were worried about contracting Covid whilst travelling, so we trusted the Lord for his provision. I know he will continue to be with us as we obey his call for his mission.
“Ultimately, no pandemic — or anything greater — can affect the plan of God and he will make things happen in his appointed time. “
By Kerry Allan
- Give thanks for the partnerships that makes possible the important work of ENGAGE.
- For Ram to build strong partnerships with Christian leaders in Rochdale.
- Pray visitors to the bookstall will return and be willing to exploring Christianity on a deeper level.