Arbin Pokharel grew up in a Christian orphanage in Nepal. Although he lived only a few blocks away from Bimala Shresthra in Kathmandu, they did not meet there. Arbin was sponsored to come to Celeryville, Ohio in 1992 for high school. He began his college studies at Dordt College in Iowa and finished at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While Arbin was a student at Kuyper he became friends with Bimala.
Bimala grew up in Nepal, a daughter of a Nepali British military general. Bimala and her family were Hindu, so it is surprising that she chose to come to Calvin College in 1995. During an interim trip to Kenya, Bimala was given the vision to discontinue her pre-medicine studies and pursue micro-enterprise business studies instead. She had a desire to change the lives of the underprivileged. This was also a time of Jesus’ calling on her life and she began following Christ in 1997.
Arbin and Bimala both attended Calvin Seminary and got married in 2001. They graduated in 2002 and felt a strong desire to return to their native country of Nepal to share God’s love with their people. Cross-Way Church was planted in 2005 in with a small group in Arbin and Bimala’s living room in Kathmandu. Cross-way has now grown to be a thriving and vibrant congregation of over 300 and has over 22 church plants in villages all through Nepal.
Higher Ground Nepal was started in 2006 out of Bimala’s vision to share God’s love with those at risk of exploitation. Their mission is to restore lives through awareness of human trafficking, counselling, and socio-economic empowerment. Higher Ground provides training and jobs in crafts and jewellery making, sewing and baking. Donations and the proceeds of these products fund counselling for victims, a safe home, scholarships, and micro-enterprise loans.
One of the best parts about Arbin and Bimala’s story is that they know the comfort of living in the U.S. but have chosen to live in their native country to serve the Lord. They know the language, culture and issues of the people they serve. They are gifted, talented and passionate about the work God has called them to do.