Friday, Jan. 14
Frenetic crowds on the streets of Kathmandu.
Our short-term time draws to a close as Kyle and I prepare to return to the States. Kyle has been catching up with friends made during his two years of working here. Alyssa and I navigated the streets she has learned to call home away from her Wyoming home. She had been in Nepal volunteering as a teacher for four months before our arrival and she’ll be staying on another couple of weeks.
God has a plan for Climbing For Christ’s long-term work here. As we ministered together earlier in the week, Pastor Tej asked: “So what is your plan for Nepal?” It was too early to tell; I was waiting on the Lord. But a plan has been revealed as we grow our partnership with Tej’s SARA church and trek into more remote areas to introduce Jesus and plant churches in the years ahead. We’ll share more about this in the weeks and months ahead, but a Mission: Nepal 2012 is already in the works.
“...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Thursday, Jan. 13
We met with another ministry leader for Nepali coffee, breakfast, and fellowship in Kathmandu. We talked about reaching the unreached with the Gospel of Christ in remote areas of this country. There are many good trekking opportunities that could be combined with church visits and medical clinics in 2012 if the Lord of the harvest sends us the workers that are needed. In many places “it’s not about God (or the gods the people worship); it’s about the culture,” our ministry-leading friend said.
Hinduism and Buddhism are a way of life in Nepal. Rebirth (or reincarnation) and karma remain a never-ending and vicious cycle with people stuck in a caste system and suffering accepted if not embraced. But there is hope. One secular (and lost) writer noted several years ago: “Because proselytizing and conversion are not part of Hindu tradition, Nepali law prohibits these practices, so Nepal has been spared the influence of missionaries and evangelists.”
Fortunately this is a lie.
Since Christianity was made legal in 1951 an estimated 1 million believers have arisen. Many of those have come to the Lord in recent years. Our international ministry-leading friend, who has worked in Nepal for the past 12 years, recalls riding in Kathmandu taxis in which drivers never had heard of Jesus. Today, most taxi drivers will tell him they know at least one Christian. That's a sign of the growth of Christianity in this country of more than 28 million people.
There remains a great deal of work to be done in order to grow the body of Christ, but churches are being built and pastors trained. The darkness will give way to the light and Climbing For Christ will continue to be a part of this kingdom building.
Wednesday, Jan. 12
Megh Gurung, a Nepali C4C member who leads a church in Kathmandu and works as a trekking guide, met with us to discuss ministry. Megh was part of a team that our Mission: Nepal 2008 expedition partnered with to do some medical clinics in the Everest region. He is working on building a church in Dadathok in the Midwestern Rolpa district. He asked for our prayers as he seeks God’s provision of US$1,000 for the land and $3,500 for construction costs. There are about 35 believers in the village in a strong Hindu area.
We had dinner at Pastor Tej’s home. His wife made us the Nepali staple, dal bhat (rice with a soup made of lentils), along with buffalo and some vegetables. Tej must say goodbye to us as he is preparing to travel to Thailand and India for some pastors’ conferences. He also hopes to get to the United States in 2011, and Climbing For Christ would invite him to share about reaching the lost in Nepal.
Tej presented us with a certificate of appreciation for our visit and “serving God’s Word so powerfully in our midst at Dapcha church as well as helping in church construction.” He added: “On behalf of my family, leaders and believers, I would highly express my heartfelt gratitude and thanks ... for their significant involvement to make this blessed project happen.”
To God alone be the glory!
Tuesday, Jan. 11
The Dapcha church leaders – Kristshna Lama, 36; Gopal Nepali, 18, and Prajwal Pariyar, 16 – became our newest members of Climbing For Christ. We prayed together as a group on the church-building site before Kyle, Pastor Tej, Alyssa and I headed back to Kathmandu in the afternoon. The leaders blessed us with gifts before we left.
“They are so happy you came,” Pastor Tej said. “They say “‘thanks.’”
But it was we who are so thankful to them. Kristshna came to Christ in 2006 and started the church at Dapcha shortly thereafter. They started with six members, including Gopal. Prajwal joined when he, his sister (Sumitra, the healed girl mentioned in Saturday’s Dispatch) and their parents accepted Jesus on Christmas day 2007. Since then, Kristshna, Gopal and Prajwal have been busy serving the Lord and growing the church in this Central Nepal area. Each one attended six months of Bible training in Tej’s main SARA Church on the Rock in Kathmandu.
They are excited about the months ahead when the new church at Dapcha will be built and dedicated to the Lord.
As we left the village, a song was playing in Pastor Tej’s van: “Jesus loves the little children of the world.” School children were all along the road, watching as we drove past. God loves each of these children (and their families) and through a light on a hill like the church at Dapcha it is our prayer that more of them will love Him in return.
Monday, Jan. 10
More progress to report on the church build. Praise the Lord! A foundation was laid for a bathroom (two toilets) that will be separate from the church. It will take about two weeks to complete.
Work was interrupted by the arrival of a woman, a member of the church, who was delirious with fever. I prayed for her with the three church leaders, and later Kyle prayed with her as well. She was improving. We asked if it was the medicine they'd given her. “No,” they said, “it was the prayer.”
One day, Pastor Tej envisions a health clinic as part of the church complex. SARA owns the building the church currently uses for worship and he would like to renovate it after the new church is complete.
Tej joined us from Kathmandu in the afternoon. We discussed partnership plans for 2011 and 2012. The first priority is funding the church build and a pastor who is attending Bible college in India. There is other work to be done, too, including a possible 2012 trip to another, more remote location. Medical personnel would be a blessed addition to future Evangelic Expeditions here.
We are in prayer about all of the planning just as we are praying for the church at Dapcha. We made some house visits late today, lifting in prayer members of the church. Most of those who have come to Christ here have numerous family members under the same roof who do not believe. There is much unbelief in this village and country.
Sunday, Jan. 9
A woman laborer hauls rocks in a basket for masons to build a retaining wall.
We went to work on the physical building of the church at Dapcha, taking up shovels, Nepali picks, and moving rocks in baskets they strap to their heads. These are the simple tools being used by church members and a few laborers who earn US$4-7 per day. In one day, the handful of workers toiling in the warm sun and cool air cleared away a large part of the side of a hill and continued building a rock retaining wall to anchor the church.
Of course, this is a church that is built on The Rock.
We only shoveled and hauled rocks for a short time; others worked all day. They expect to begin construction on the 22-by-40-foot building by late February. They are trusting God will provide funding through Climbing For Christ to make this possible. We will need to raise another US$13,000.
This is a church worth far more than that. To watch 13-year-old girls carrying “neckpacks” full of heavy rocks and 16- and 18-year-old church leaders moving dirt – while cooking, cleaning and caring for guests – is humbling and inspiring.
When the church is completed it will face Annapurna in the distance with side windows looking out at the beautiful Gosainkund Range, where Langtang National Park is located. But, more importantly, it will serve as God’s house, which even the gates of hell will not overcome. Without this church that is where much of this area – littered with Hindi temples and Buddhist prayer flags – is headed.
Saturday, Jan. 8
Worship at the church at Dapcha.
We worshipped with more than 60 brothers and sisters in Christ at the church at Dapcha. Church services are held in Nepal on Saturday; this is the national day of rest. Our worship was led by a team of eight, all of whom are age 18 and younger, and all of whom display an incredible passion for the Lord.
I preached on the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18). God prepared this message in a Bible study on persecution we have been doing in Western New York. It was a passaage of Scripture divindely selected by my pastor for my commissioning before this mission. The teaching was even more relevant here, where the church faces opposition from Maoists, Hindus, Buddhists, and spiritual forces of evil.
I encouraged this body of believers to use the full armor (belt of Truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peacc, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, and prayer), not just a piece or two. I had our translator Roshan read for them 1 Peter 5:8-9.
I prayed for the church; Kyle was asked to share and he was led to pick up on 1 Peter 5:8-9. He warned the church that the devil was on the prowl like a roaring lion.
Alyssa also shared how the God we worship – the God who created the universe – loves each one of them. She told them that this was why we recently celebrated CHRISTmas, when God sent down His own Son for us. That's the Truth that we continued to share after church when we again walked around the village and handed out tracts.
The reality of the Good News was revealed in Sumitra, the sister of one of the young church leaders. Kyle prayed over her on Mission: Nepal 2009. Shortyly after that mission, Sumitra was healed of a paralysis that she'd been suffering. Her family had been Hindi, but now follow Christ. They serve as a light in a dark place of the Dapcha area, where five people have committed suicide in five years.
“For our struggle is ... against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” — Ephesians 6:12).
Friday, Jan. 7
We made the 100-kilometer drive from Kathmandu to the hilly region where Dapcha is located in a rented Jeep. Members of the church and hired laborers were at work clearing the land where the church building will be constructed. They have been leveling the land for the past week and there remains much work to do. But there also remains funds to raise. The church will be located in the heart of the village on a perch looking out at the majestic Himalayas.
We met the three church leaders who have trained at Pastor Tej's central church in Kathmandu. One was beaten by Maoists who attacked the old church a few years back. But otherwise there seems mostly disinterest in the church here. As we walked over hills around the village with one of Tej’s staff, Roshan, who was handing out tracts (“If you die today will you go to heaven?”), there were few takers.
The Buddhists and Hindus we spoke with said they have their own religion already. They don’t care about the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thursday, Jan. 6
We spent the day visiting Hindu and Buddhist shrines as well as Pastor Tej’s main church and orphanage in Kathmandu. His SARA Church on the Rock has 15 churches: four in Kathmandu Valley and 11 in other parts of Nepal, including Dapcha, where we are going on Friday.
There has been some opposition to the church. In one location, Pakdol, the pastor was beaten and fled to the main church in Kathmandu for two months. He has returned to Pakdol, however, and the church is growing. There is an increasing Hindu fanaticism as some believe Nepal should be reinstated as the Hindu kingdom it was before becoming a secular state in 2007.
In Dapcha, many of the people are traditional Newari, meaning they are Hindu and resistant to Christianity. As we visited the Swayambhu temple – a joint Buddhist and Hindu stuppe that overlooks Kathmandu – we discussed the challenge of sharing the One true God with a people who believe in millions of gods. Monkeys were all around us at the temple. These monkeys represent the god of protection to the Hindu; to us, they are a funny, flea-infested animal.
One way to reach the people of Dapcha is to show them the love of Christ. Do rather than just say. This could involve setting up an occasional clinic that would provide much-needed medical care and/or offering education through the church to poor families who cannot afford to send their children to government (public) school let alone the better private schools.
In other words, serving both their physical and their spiritual needs, which is what Climbing For Christ is doing in a dozen nations – from Hindu and Buddhist to places where people are Muslim, voodooist, and animist.
“...because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” — Luke 1:78-79 (NIV)
Wednesday, Jan. 5
Kyle and I arrived in Kathmandu after about 35 hours of travel (half in the air and half for layovers) from our respective homes in New York. We were greated by Pastor Tej and Alyssa at the airport. Tej said a prayer of thanks for our safe arrival. “I welcome you in the name of Jesus. God may give you a blessed journey,” Tej said. We are all eager to see what work God has for us.
The team comes together: (left to right) Alyssa, Kyle, Tej and Gary.
Monday, Jan. 3
It is that exciting time: the beginning of another Evangelic Expedition. This is Climbing For Christ's third mission to Nepal. It is a wonder to see how God has woven this mission together.
As Pastor Tej Rokka of SARA Church On the Rock, our ministry partner in Kathmandu and a member of C4C, said recently: “It is a miracle God did in the life of SARA Church On the Rock Kathmandu. God brought brother Kyle (Austin, an American C4C member and multi-expedition member who served for two years in Nepal) and connected me with brother Gary for this wonderful plan of God. We were praying to purchase a plot of land and build a church for this church on the mountain. But it seemed impossible because of remote village, (economically) poor believers and no funds.
“Thank God for proving Himself that He is the God of the impossible. He spoke to many hearts of God's people (to) whom C4C presented the need. First (in 2009), I received US$4,100 for purchasing the land and we did it. Secondly, in November of (2010) I received another blessing of US$5,500 to start church-building work. Thank God and those who gave cheerfully.”
We also give thanks: for the financial support and especially the prayer support that is lifting us up as we go. We are eager to meet the body of believers in Dapcha and see how the church-building project is going. We will be blessed to be an encouragement to these brothers and sisters in Christ.
So, as we set off, I again quote Pastor Tej, who summed it up perfectly the other day: “I am hurry up to see and meet you soon.” God's will be done.
- CLICK HERE to meet the team.
- CLICK HERE for Mission Moments leading up to this trip.
- Follow links on the left to more HIStory of Mission: Nepal.