MISSIO DEI: DAUD MASIH AS NEPALI VERNACULAR GOSPEL SONG WRITERS IN NEPAL IN REFERENCE TO AN EXEGETICAL SURVEY OF THE PROPHET JEREMIAH


Introduction
This paper keeps its focus on the book of Prophet Jeremiah to examine God's initiative of reaching His people, the Israel and rest of the contemporary nations through His chosen one, the Prophet Jeremiah in light with the vernacular Nepali Gospel song writers towards the godly concerns for entire population of Nepal. This paper will try to understand why and how God kept frequently urging the kings of Judah and all other nations for His people Israel to bring ultimately something good out of those difficult situations. Similarly, this also will deal with the compassionate attempt of those Gospel songwriters who have demonstrated same urgency in pouring out the words in their writings and how they were able to relate their works to God's mission of saving every human being in their neighborhood. According to Prophet Jeremiah, through all terrible experiences the people of Judah as well as the kings and the leaders were to face, God would constantly reveal His mercy. And, to communicate His desired message to the people of Israel and surrounding nations, God chose Jeremiah as His messenger. There should be an agreement among the Christians leaders who are active in the mission that the similar zeal and passionate hearts were developed within those early songwriters of vernacular Nepali. They were too under the Holy Spirit's influence to see the people in surrounding are lost as God is concerned as the prophet Jeremiah was. Thus this paper carefully surveys the entire book of Jeremiah in light of the Nepalese Gospel song composers (writers) available information on how God has shown His compassion for the eternal destiny of people, to summon them toward Himself and save them. This very action of God, here, we have taken as Missio Dei.
"Missio Dei" is a Latin word, which is translated into Christian theology in missions as the mission of God. This is defined as "the sending activity of God with the purpose reconciling to Himself and bringing into His Kingdom fallen men and women from every people, nation and tongue."[1] This is often understood as God sending someone to intentionally save humanity out of His love for all of His creation. As taken it's meaning, Missio Dei is God's personal initiative to send (someone or something) the Prophet.  Missio Dei flows in every section of the book of Jeremiah. The term imparts literary and theological coherence throughout the book. This is a unifying connection with the overall themes of Jeremiah's prophecy, his personal sufferings and cries, and predicting God's judgment over the regions of Israel and surrounding nations alike. Similarly, the Gospel songwriters consciously or even unconsciously are used to be the channel of Missio Dei through their obedient services. The same heart's desire as Jeremiah is reflected in their writing also. Thus to critically analyze the works of the Gospel song writers would help one to see how God was/is at work throughout the conversion stories of fastest growing church in Nepal, which is mainly considered as Missio Dei.

Missio Dei is revealed in Call of Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5-11)
God's calling of Jeremiah as the prophet was to the nations. It is clearly stated in the book that this initiative was even before his existence, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5. NIV). According to this verse, Jeremiah was appointed to be God's messenger to the nations, which means 'peoples' outside the nation of Israel, peoples in the surrounding kingdoms, people groups of different ethnicities and the inhabitants in bordering areas, the Gentiles. Eliminating the prophet's dilemma and all excuses, God further clarifies the call, "Do not be afraid because of them; for I am with you to deliver you. Behold, I have put my words in your mouth... Behold, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" (Verses 8, 10). These scripture verses obviously present the desire of God to all the 'nations' – Missio Dei, His sending activities (here in the context prophet Jeremiah), so he would speak in behalf of God with extensively warning, rebuking and inviting to the Lord. Here, the Yahweh God repeatedly “sends” (שׁלח) in order to “speak” (דבר) to different peoples, kingdoms and their leaders.

The Key Messages of Prophet Jeremiah in Nepali Context
The key idea from what Jeremiah spoke to the leaders in Judah and rest of the kingdoms can be summarized in one word as 'restoration'. This tells more about God's intention. He did not want to bring the judgment to end all through condemnation. Though these people, as we read the book of Jeremiah, were literally not worthy to be saved. But God did not intend destruction on them, but He planned for restoration. The prophet Jeremiah is known as 'weeping' prophet, and his weeping was to show his compassion for the people who would not come back to God and left themselves onto the wrath of the Lord, which was ultimate consequence of their own evil doings. Through the Biblical-missional point of view, Nepal was lost. There was no hope for anyone who tried to live as religious as they could, but their every attempt would bear no fruits for them. Their all efforts living as religious person could not save them from eternal condemnation and hell. But how they could come to the point of putting their trust in Christ unless God Himself would not initiate to send His servants to this country? According to the Bible, anyone without believing in Christ is lost, no one could do more that Christ did to save him or herself. So God called the missionaries from overseas as well as from south India and some others from Nepali speaking churches in Darjeeling. Their call can be compared with God's call to prophet Jonah for His mission to Nineveh. Jeremiah's zeal was to demonstrate God's heart toward the disobeying people that God still reacts to their walks of life. Similarly, the songwriters have not failed to reveal this truth from God. The minimum content of their writings is to present the whole truth about life, her very existence, purpose and destination, and clearly draw them toward God's eternal purpose with their responses through confession, repentance and faith in Christ.
In this light of God's active work in or through a person, it is not easy to tell whether the work of Gospel song writing is a lifelong call from God. But, believing in God's sovereign purpose and plan, any Christian would say that this can be a short-term or temporal calling from God or at least it is the strong leading of the Holy Spirit. Their appeal presents how much they care for the audience they are targeting to. Their arguments build upon a compelling invitation and sense of urgency so that all of the reader would say 'yes' to God and have the experience of new life in Jesus Christ.

Progressing Steps of Missio Dei in the Book of Jeremiah
Jeremiah was called to be the prophet to "the nations” who must go wherever Yahweh sends him (1:4–10). Even though his ministry primarily consists in Jerusalem, preaching among his own people, it seems that he did not went out to those kingdoms against which he was prophesying to (Jer. 1:11–19). He acts as God's spokesman and warns the people in the nation of Judah (chapters 2—6, 21—29 and 40—45). He brings a lawsuit against the unfaithful ones, pleads and threatens, so they would turn to God. He also brings light an adversary theology (chapters 7—11) particularly unusual to the people of Israel, stunning message to his audience that God would mightily use the Gentile nations to invade Judah so they would be the witness to them in times to come. Jeremiah realizes that he was going to be deceitfully executed and struggles with the plot, and yet continues his prophetic role (Chapter 12—20). But good news he receives from God is that all will be redeemed and restored, and God always protects His faithful ones (chapters 30—39). Yet, an explicit shift from the particular nation of Judah to the universal horizon of the nations seems to occur only in the oracles against the nations (chapters 46–51). And, the climax scenario of the prophetic message of Jeremiah concludes with a strict warning that the unfaithfulness causes destruction (chapter 52).

Chiasmic Outline of the Book of Jeremiah[2]
A         God's compelling message to Jeremiah – chapter 1
            B         Disaster may fall upon the unfaithful – chapter 2-10
                        C         Stories of different kingdoms – chapter 11-20
                                    D         Prophet's dispute with the kings – chapter 21-29
                                                E          The Message of comfort – chapter 30-33
                                    D1       Prophet's Dispute with the kings – chapter 34-38
                        C1       Stories of Sacked city Jerusalem and her fall – chapter 39-45
            B1       Disaster may fall upon Gentiles kingdoms – chapter 46-51
A1       Afterwards – concluding remarks – chapter 52


Some Key Verses depicting Missio Dei[3]
1:5       “Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you. Before you came forth out of the womb, I sanctified you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (V 1:5; context 1:4-11)
3:17     At that time they shall call Jerusalem ‘The throne of Yahweh;’ and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of Yahweh, to Jerusalem. Neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.
3:19     “But I said, ‘How I would put you among the children, and give you a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the armies of the nations!’ and I said, ‘You shall call me “My Father,” and shall not turn away from following me’ (context 3:18-20)
4:2 … and you shall swear, ‘As Yahweh lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness. The nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory” (context 4:1-3)
4:16     “Tell the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, ‘Watchers come from a far country, and raise their voice against the cities of Judah (context 4:15-17)
6:18     therefore, hear, you nations, and know, congregation, what is among them.
10:7     Who should not fear you, King of the nations? For it belongs to you; because among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their royal estate, there is none like you (context 10:6-8).
10:10   But Yahweh is the true God; he is the living God, and an everlasting King: at his wrath the earth trembles, and the nations are not able to withstand his indignation.
25:9                 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, says Yahweh, and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against its inhabitants, and against all these nations around; and I will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and a hissing, and perpetual desolations (also in 27:11)
25:11   This whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
25:13   I will bring on that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations.
25:14   For many nations and great kings shall make bondservants of them, even of them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the work of their hands.
25:15   For thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, to me: take this cup of the wine of wrath at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.
25:17   Then took I the cup at Yahweh’s hand, and made all the nations to drink, to whom Yahweh had sent me.
27:7                 All the nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the time of his own land come: and then many nations and great kings shall make him their bondservant.
29:14   I will be found by you, says Yahweh, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, says Yahweh; and I will bring you again to the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive.
30:11   For I am with you, says Yahweh, to save you: for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not make a full end of you; but I will correct you in measure, and will in no way leave you unpunished.
33:9     This city shall be to me for a name of joy, for a praise and for a glory, before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do to them, and shall fear and tremble for all the good and for all the peace that I procure to it.
49:14   I have heard news from Yahweh, and an ambassador is sent among the nations…
50:2     Declare among the nations and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and don’t conceal: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is disappointed, Merodach is dismayed; her images are disappointed, her idols are dismayed (context whole chapter 50).

Tone of the Gospel Message to the two different worlds
Though it is entirely none comparable the time and context of the two different mouth piece for God. The time and context of the prophet Jeremiah was vastly different than the Gospel songwriters in our times and context. But both serve the same eternal God, who is in control of everything. Jeremiah's calling (Jeremiah 1:5) is the conformation that everyone is set before God's notice. God knows not only the prophet Jeremiah, but also everyone, even before they have come into existence as human being. And God alone sets a date for all and everything so to live or die. The truth is that God is in control over all and everything in all eternity. In His predestined time, according to Jeremiah 3:17, all nations from every corners of the earth shall gather in the Name of Yahweh (in Jerusalem) and every knee shall bow at the name of Jesus Christ and every tongue will confess He is the Lord and Savior (Philippians 2:10-11).  The gospel tract writers have been constantly singing the same tone with Prophet Jeremiah that "Yahweh God is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting King; at His wrath the earth trembles and the nations are not able to withstand in indignation" (Jeremiah 10:10). Thus the Gospel message is to present an open invitation to all, and the consequences would vary on how the people would treat to the message and the messengers. There is reward in accepting the message, but there is inescapable destiny for those who never heed them. God's promises would follow them who pay the attention to it and embrace the truth with compete and submissive following Christ as their Lord and Savior. God shows that He is determined to restore all who are predestined to be His own people as written in Jeremiah 30:11, "For I am with you", says Yahweh, "to save you: for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not make a full end of you; but I will correct you in measure, and will in no way leave you unpunished."

The Nepali Vernacular Gospel Song-Writers in carrying the Missio Dei
            As discussed above, the work of song writing, production and distribution should be taken as major work in relation to mission. Though the literacy rate was seemingly too low in Nepal, the Gospel songs become the chief means in evangelism. The pioneer missionaries and church planters took Gospel song. Songs were used even prior to the sharing good news or testimony of conversion stories. There are many songs published in Nepali Christian Hymnal, and at first 73 out of 126 songs were translated from English to Nepal language.[4] And it is interesting to note that all of the songs in Nepali were written in evangelistic flavor. Some of the songs are still sung by Nepali churches whenever it comes to proclaim the Gospel. Later songwriters in vernacular Nepali follow the same notion of spreading good news to every parts of the country through singing. From the early entry of the Gospel in the country, the songs in nature mainly fall into two categories. The following points are the brief description about the songs included Samdan's Nepali Khristiya Bhajan (Christian Hymnal published by Samdan[5]:
a.     Inspirational towards of Worship – Most of them are translated from English or other language of early missionaries. These are theologically sound on making God all powerful, sovereign and ultimate destiny of the whole creation, thus the listener would be encouraged and drawn to the God in attitude of offering all adoration and worship to Him. They tell who God is and how a man could seek His face in all devotions. They describe God's attributes and somehow compel a person to acknowledge His and surrender to Him.
b.     Gospel Songs – These songs are to tell who Christ is. The message of these songs ranges from creation to consummation, from garden to city and from beginning to the end. In simple term and tone they clearly present the entire story of the Bible, original plan of the creation, fall of humanity and God's restoration stories through His sending mission or Missio Dei. These songs are written in the context of the audience to somehow address their felt needs, and guide them to the fulfillment of real needs of life.   
Out of 752 songs in the recently published hymnal book from Samdan Publication, there are 576 songs bear the content of Gospel in direct words and the singer of any of these song summons his or her listener to the faith in Christ. This shows that enough weight is given in writing Gospel songs. These Gospel songs have systematically presented a clear message for their audience so they would learn and accept the truth about life. Upon critically viewing this fact one should come into realization that God is at His work. He inspires, guides and bestows the needed wisdom to His servants as He did to the Prophets in the Old Testament time, and to the Gospel or Letter writers in the New Testament. Following the same spirit of Ganga Prasad, others also started writing Gospel songs, which are now being sung by the church at present. Among the early contributors of the Gospel song were late pastors David Mukhiya, Tir Bahadur Dewan, Daud Masih and Debusigh Dahal.[6]  All of them have passed away, but they have contributed a tremendous list of Gospel song to the church of Nepal in their lifetimes. Similarly, Reshamraj Paudel, D.R. Thulung, Loknath Manaen, Salon Karthak are other names who are the living testimony of the passion to bring Missio Dei among Nepalese people. They are carrying the same zeal as of the pioneers did, and they are contributing in writing Gospel song in Nepali vernacular. The following paragraphs will highlight on the contribution of the chief contributors.
It is said that late pastors David Mukhiya and Debusigh Dahal compose many songs in the Hymnal book. But, there is no proof of which are actually written by whom. Also, there some songs composed by Tir Bahadur.  And among these names, Daud Masish's name is taken for granted. There are hundreds of gospel songs included in the Nepali hymnal, which were composed by Daud Masih.[7]  He was a good song composer and amazing singer but he seldom wrote any song. Loknath Manaen, the publisher of Samdan Publication says that Daud was a devoted evangelist. He was a polio victim since his childhood and seemed to be physically unfit, but he was a challenge to his contemporaneous.
Daud Masih (1921-2000) was from Gandharba tribe, also called Gaine, one of the untouchables whose traditional profession was an itinerary singer. Traditionally, Gaines were used to serve as entertainers the high status people, and besides that they were the one who served as a bridge of information from elite class to the lowest class of the society or vice versa. They were considered the messengers to news through their singing. Sometimes, the courageous Gaine would compose and sing songs to the public exposing the unjust, discrimination and power abuses of the rulers and powerful. Thus usually they were highly appreciated by the ordinary people in far remote villages. Daud Masih's came to the Lord during his fled from his hometown to Nautuna a bordering town near Sunouli in Uttar Pradesh, India. He accepted Christ while he was admitted at Duncan Hospital in Raxoul due to compelling help and prayerful life testimony of the missionaries. After that life-transforming experience, he devoted himself for the Gospel.[8] He served as one of the key evangelists with Nepal Evangelistic Band, which was initiated by western missionaries. He would make himself available for any opportunity to go out and share Christ's name. Right after political change in Nepal, a group of missionaries entered Nepal seeking humanitarian service opportunities in the country, and Daud was among those early comers. The government of Nepal allowed them to start a medical service in Pokhara in 1952, where Daud passionately preached the gospel through locally composed songs, and the following years he and his team were given grace to start a church in Ramghat, Pokhara, which is the first evangelical Nepali church. Daud associated the pastor to that new church. He pastored Ramghat church for about 4 years after David Mukhiya, and was invited to pastor Amppipal church in Gorkha district where he served for 8 years. Then in later years of his life he was credited as senior pastor to Naya Gaun church for more than 20 years. But he never believed to remain confined within the church walls. His calling was not to stay in one place as a resident pastor, but roam around as an itinerant evangelist. So he did, he reached most of the unreached villages and peoples travelling most of the districts by his own feet. His original name was Dilasigh Gandharba; perhaps a missionary gave him this new name because of his talent in singing and playing Sarangi (traditional Nepali version of violin). He used this talent to share the good news in every corners of the country. He could compose songs in local peoples' context and address their felt needs through the new song in their own local-tribal melody with powerful Gospel message within it.

Conclusion
            More than any other Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah spoke and acted for the Missio Dei. His calling as the "prophets to the nations" (Jer. 1:5) has been constantly exemplified in his book. His prophesies against the leaders in Judah and the other kings and kingdoms shows God's concern and compassion towards all human beings on the earth. In his prophecies, God's universal grace and judgment are expressed equally. This expression through the prophet prophetically points towards the Salvation for the nations. Jeremiah's sufferings, cries and admonitions as written in the book were concentrated to his immediate audience. But they also have to tell exactly the same message to the unseen future world, to Christ's time in particular, are in vision. Critically studying Missio Dei in the book of the prophet Jeremiah and comparing the governing notion of the prophet's life and message with the dedicated pioneers of the Gospel works in Nepal, there seems a common urge between the two. Jeremiah spoke in behalf of God, and the Gospel songs writers did (still doing) the same thing. They are equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, and intervened by the call of the Lord God.  Like prophet Jeremiah, most of them suffered for the sake of Gospel. They were beaten, thrown out from the society and imprisoned.
This paper tried to critically observe the convictions, zeal and never ceasing efforts of the prophet Jeremiah. Similarly, the life of Daud Masih and his unceasing efforts towards the work of evangelism through Gospel songs writing is briefly analyzed in this paper. Daud's life-commitment towards the Missio Dei for Nepal was an example in the early phase of church history of Nepal. Thus one should acknowledge the life of a physically week but most outgoing itinerary evangelist, Daud Masih and some of his contemporaneous who have impacted much to the mission of Kingdom in the country through their Gospel songs. Just as the prophet Jeremiah's prophecies about the salvation of the nations become Matthew's source of revelations about the "rejected prophet" – Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 21:13), Daud Masih's compassionate Gospel songs are to be acknowledged in the church of Nepal.




Selected Bibliography



Khanal, BP,  Amrowali Kanchho: A Biography of Pastor Tir Bahadur Dewan. Kathmandu, Samdan Prakashan with ISPCK, 1998.

.                  , Dilasigh Gandharba: A Biography of Pastor Daud Masih (Unpublished, manuscript)

Ott, Craig, Timothy C. Tennet, and Stephen J. Strauss, Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010
Rongong, Adon, et al. Ajambari Ganga Prasad Pradhan: Srastaharuko Dristima. Silliguri, Ekta Book House Pvt. Ltd., 2012

Samdan's Kristiya Bhajan, Kathmandu, Samdan Publication, 1971 (18th Reprint with additional songs in 2011).


Online Sources:







[1]Craig Ott, Timothy C. Tennet, and Stephen J. Strauss, Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010, pp. xv, xvii.

[2]The outline is taken from http://www.helwys.com/commentary/art_010903/pdfs/jeremiah_sample.pdf (page 20-21) and is presented with much of modification in terms of God's Mission by the author.

[3]Selected Bible verses are taken from River Bible Online version, downloaded from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/river-bible/id450108967?mt=12 .
[4]The first Nepali hymnal book was published in Darjeeling under the leadership of Padri Ganga Prasad Pradhan in 1837. Adon Rongong et al. in Ajambari Ganga Prasad Pradhan: Srastaharuko Dristima. Silliguri, Ekta Book House Pvt. Ltd., 2012, p269.

[5]Samdan's Kristiya Bhajan, Kathmandu, Samdan Publication, 1971 (18th Reprint with additional songs in 2011).
[6]BP Khanal, Amrowali Kanchho: A Biography of Pastor Tir Bahadur Dewan. Kathmandu, Samdan Prakashan with ISPCK, 1998. p37.
[7]BP Khanal, Dilasigh Gandharb: A Biography of Pastor Daud Masih (Unpublished, manuscript, p.3, 47).
[8]BP Khanal, a short biographic note posted on http://www.worthfinding.com/christian-articles-stories/read.aspx?theSID=1057, taken on June 20, 2013.

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