Sunday, Jan. 29
It was a rest day for the team. This included a challenging cross-city journey to Higher Grounds, the Christian coffee shop and bakery beloved by those of us visiting Kathmandu from North America. Traffic was worst than the usual gridlock as protests continue over rising fuel prices. (Last week the city was shut down for one day by a strike over fuel prices.) Megh made the trip to Higher Grounds with us as we enjoyed our first real coffee since leaving home and some delicious sweets.
It wasn’t all play and no work today, though. We met with Megh to go over our trip to the Rolpa district in the country's distant Mid-West. Megh, Dave and I will be making the long drive starting early Monday morning, while Brandy and Marissa stay in Kathmandu to work with our Project 1:27 orphans, who are under the care of Pastor Tej’s SARA (Savior Alone Reaches Asians) ministry.
In Rolpa, we will visit the village where Climbing For Christ is funding the building of our second Nepal church. Megh made us aware of this remote location last January during Mission: Nepal 2011. He told us the story of how the fellowship began with a divinely appointed meeting in 2007 between him and his wife and a woman from Rolpa, who was in Kathmandu working as a laborer in the brick-making factories that dot the outside of the city. Megh asked where she was from and in the course of the conversation shared that he was a Christian. The woman had not heard the Good News until that day. After that, Megh invited her to worship at their church. She brought her husband and two children and they accepted Christ. She attended Megh’s church in Kathmandu for two years before the family returned to Rolpa. In the meantime, others came to work in the city and also came to know Jesus.
In July 2009, Megh made his first trip to Rolpa. There were seven believers then. “When I went there nobody could go to that area because it was totally Maoist,” he said, referring to the civil war that waged between the government and Maoists from 1996-2006 and was still felt in some areas for years afterward. (Today, the Maoists have gained a good deal of control of the government.)
There are now more than 75 Christians in Rolpa, including the former Maoist leader from that area. Megh proposed to Climbing For Christ that a church be built there and after praying over this God provided the funding through our membership. Land was purchased in November (see Mission Moments) and we are visiting to encourage the church and initiate construction of the building. We will also baptize five new believers during this scheduled three-day trip.
Saturday, Jan. 28
The team was recovering physically today from a vigorous first 10 days in Nepal. We worshiped with Pastor Tej’s SARA (Savior Alone Reaches Asians) central church in Kathmandu. In Nepal, worship is held on Saturday. I was honored to share the message, “Blessed to be a Blessing,” which was based on Genesis 12:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:9. I spoke about being sent here this time to encourage the church in Nepal, and I prayed for the congregation of about 200. I shared how Tej had prayed for 10 souls to be saved during our travels and how 10 people had come to know Jesus in Dapcha and Langtang during this last week. Tej told me afterward that he’d been speaking to another pastor about this topic before he learned it was the subject of my message. While I was preaching, Brandy and Marissa led the children’s church — playing games, telling stories, and teaching and learning songs.
Friday, Jan. 27
Mission: Nepal team at a Buddhist site at 9,600 feet during trek on Wednesday. Team members are (front row, left to right): Gary Fallesen, Dave Stoessel, Brandy Everts, (back row) Megh Gurung, Pastor Tej Rokka, and Marissa Gardiner.
We completed our five-day Langtang trek with a short three-hour hike down about 900 vertical feet from Timure to Syaphrubesi, where we began on Monday. This ended a remarkable, God-ordained visit to the villages on the Tamang Heritage trail. In all, we covered about 45 miles with about 16,000 feet in vertical gain and descent. We believe nine souls came to Christ during our trek, including the two in Gatlang and an entire family in Tatopani. In addition to the father, mother and daughter we reported on Wednesday, three younger children and a niece also prayed with us after Tej shared the Gospel with them at their guest house.
It was another sun and Son blessed day in the mountains for our final walk in Langtang National Park. After returning to Syaphrubesi, we made the arduous six-hour drive back to Kathmandu (this time by Jeep) so we can worship at Pastor Tej’s church on Saturday morning.
Thursday, Jan. 26
We took a prayer walk this morning around Thuman, asking God to break down the Buddhist stronghold. The Spirit touched Pastor Tej to return with a Nepali team and spend a week to make friends, grow relationships, and share the Gospel. We'll pray for this project.
After walking the village, we trekked about four hours, descending more than 2,000 feet to Timure. From there we walked another hour on the so-called “Friendship Road” to the Chinese border, where soldiers closed a gate on the bridge leading into their country and tried to shoo us away. So much for friendship. Here, we prayed for the work Climbing For Christ is doing on both sides of this border.
Wednesday, Jan 25
Another day began for us with the blessed witnessing of three more souls saved by and for Jesus. Sonam Tamang, his wife Langgonz, and their 18-year-old daughter Dolma — the family running the guest house where we stayed in Tatopani — heard the Gospel and received Christ as Savior. Pastor Tej read for them from Romans 3:9-10, 3:23 and 6:23 and Mark 16:15-17. He then shared about Jesus and this precious family responded. It was the first of the 50 families living in Tatopani to desire Christ.
After this amazing start to a new day we made the 1,800-vertical-foot ascent out of Tatopani to the physical highpoint of our five-day Langtang trek. For Marissa, Tej and Dave, reaching Nagthali Ghyang at 10,540 feet (3,195 meters) was a personal high. The team then descended 2,900 feet to the village of Thuman.
We are staying in this Buddhist stronghold tonight and will take a prayer walk on our way out of the village in the morning. At the moment there are 2,200 Buddhists and 0 Christians living in Thuman. We have faith that those numbers will soon change.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
What better way to start the day than with someone coming to the Lord? Nima, the man who gave his heart to Jesus on Monday night, came to see us for prayer before we trekked out of Gatlang. When we started to pray, the woman who runs the guest house, a Buddhist named Sarki Tamang, asked if she could join us. She declared that she too wanted Christ in her life. She was glowing.
After this incredible surprise, we hit the trail. We descended 1,800 vertical feet from Gatlang, which was the birthplace of one of our Project 1:27 orphans (Chiring), to another village. From there we again climbed about 3,000 feet to Tatopani. The seven-hour trek was tiring, but knowing what God had done and is doing pushed the team onward.
Monday, Jan. 23
When we left Syaphrubesi and immediately climbed a steep 2,250 vertical feet to begin our trek, we thought we were going where there were no Christians. But one — the only believer from Syaphrubesi — was walking with us. Chiring is one of our three porters.
Then we passed a village and saw a church. Then later, when we arrived at our first day's destination, Gatlang, after 5 ½ hours of hiking, we discovered there were two small churches in this otherwise Buddhist village. Then we found out that a team of 45 Korean Christians had been here yesterday and delivered clothing to the children.
We began to wonder why we were making this five-day Langtang trek. But we quickly acknowledged that God must have something planned for us on the Tamang Heritage Trek. And it didn't take long four this to be affirmed. After eating dinner and sharing our daily devotional as a team, Tej asked the three Nepalese in the cooking area of the guest house to come sit with us. It was a Spirit-led moment that ended with a man named Nima surrendering his heart to Jesus.
“...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” — Matthew 6:10
Sunday, Jan. 22
We made the hard eight-hour bus ride north from Kathmandu up serpentine roads with certain-death dropoffs staring back from outside the window. Nepali passengers were puking around us. “It was the worst bus ride of my life,” Marissa said. But it was worth it when we reached the village of Syaphrubesi in Langtang National Park and prayed about the five-day trek God has for us. Megh, who was asked to plan a route in Langtang, said God directed him to the Tamang Heritage Trek. It is off the beaten tourist path and goes through many villages to the west of Langtang. We will see what doors God opens and sow seeds in the hearts of those He puts in our path.
“I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” — Joshua 1:3
Saturday, Jan. 21
Worshipers gathering at a church in the Central Region.
We worshiped with the church in a village in the Central Region and words fail to convey the Spirit-charged experiences of our team with more than 60 Nepali brothers and sisters in Christ. I was blessed to preach and shared how Jesus can not only change the life of one person and one family, in this case the rescued soul of Sumitra Pariyar, but how He can also use the healing of one to impact many around the world.
As Dave told the congregation when he spoke, in a divinely inspired offering toward the end of my message, he is here in Nepal in part because of the video he saw (CLICK HERE for video testimony) that included Sumitra’s story. He is but one of the many who have been touched by Jesus’ healing of Sumitra.
“Jesus heals. But for Him to heal, people must know about Him,” I told the church, and then I read Romans 10:14-15.
I told Sumitra’s story (CLICK HERE to read “Healed and freed from suffering”) and how she went from a paralyzed Hindu to a glowing Christ lover. I quoted how she’d told us last year during Mission: Nepal 2011 that she was sorry she did not know Jesus earlier. “I am sorry that I did not hear about Jesus before I was sick,” she said at the time.
“This is NOT Sumitra’s fault,” I told the church. “This is my fault. It is the fault of the church.”
How could she know about Jesus without being told about Him? I urged the church to go and tell the other Sumitras in this village and around Nepal about this healing Jesus. I told them that she is my Nepali inspiration.
I asked Sumitra to come forward and thanked her for her inspiring faith. I then prayed for Sumitra and her brother Prajwal, who is one of the church leaders.
Gary Fallesen, seated, speaking to Sumitra with her brother looking on and Pastor Tej, left, translating. (Photo by Dave Stoessel)
As if this moment wasn’t enough we were then blessed to have a woman named Prem come forward and tell Pastor Tej that she wanted to accept Christ as her Savior. This woman’s husband had been the first Christian in the village in 2006, but she had wanted nothing to do with Jesus. He has since died and the church has grown in this Hindu and Buddhist stronghold. Today, she joined our family of believers.
We were reminded again, as Dave had shared from Galatians 6:9 in his encouragement to the church here: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Friday, Jan. 20
Our hearts overflowed with joy when we saw the white steps ascending a hill to a church where a year ago we were using primitive tools to clear the land. The church is a thing of beauty.
We were blessed to share with about 60 beautiful people inside at the SARA (Savior Alone Reaches Asians) Spiritual Revival Seminar. I talked about God’s love and sharing it with our enemies. Brandy addressed leadership and pursuing God’s dream for your life. And Pastor Tej talked about trusting God to receive healing and deliverance — after which the team prayed for all of the people in attendance.
All of these teaching were discussed in a place where Hindu animosity is growing. More than 80 percent of Nepal is Hindu, 11 percent is Buddhist, and according to last year’s census 8 percent is Muslim. The government, attempting to appease the Hindu majority that is threatened by Christians, claims less than 1 percent of the population follows Christ. The truth is there could be close to 1 million Christians here, and the church is growing.
We are blessed to play a small part in that — helping to build a church a half-day's drive east of Kathmandu, providing support to SARA, distributing Bibles, teaching and encouraging. All to the glory of God.
Thursday, Jan. 19
The pyres burned along the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu as the dead were cremated one after another. To the Hindus here, it is part of “samsara” — the ongoing cycle of rebirth (or reincarnation) that they must endure. The skulls of the dead are broken so memories can be released and will not be remembered in the next life, and the bodies are destroyed.
Our team watched the ceremonies at the Pashupati Temple, which is one of the world’s most significant Hindu temples of the Lord Shiva. Shiva, the destroyer god, is one the more than 330 million gods and goddesses within Hinduism, but one of the three biggest along with Brahma (the creator) and Vishnu (the preserver).
Pashupati Temple in the background, above, where bodies are cremated along the Bagmati River.
We visited Pashupati, which can only be looked at by non-Hindus from across the river, after touring the Swayambhu temple. Swayambhu is a combined Buddhist and Hindu complex that overlooks Kathmandu. It is also known as the Monkey Temple because it is overrun with monkeys, which represent the god of protection to the Hindu.
These visits were part of our team training as we spent the morning discussing Hinduism and Buddhism in preparation for the work here.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — Jesus speaking in John 8:32
Pastor Tej praying, above, before delivering Nepali Bibles, below.
Pastor Tej made his first delivery of the more than 1,000 Bibles provided by Climbing For Christ through Project Living Word. He distributed 150 to new believers at his church this morning. We will be taking Bibles with us to a Central Region village on Friday, when we go to first the church built with funding provided through Climbing For Christ. We are teaching a leadership seminar there and worshiping with the church there on Saturday.
Wednesday, Jan. 18
The team has arrived safely and is together in Kathmandu after flying for about 27 hours.
As Tuesday was spent up in the air we were touched by this verse from Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
We know that God had this Evangelic Expedition planned before time began and knew that this team would form to do His good work. All to His glory!
Monday, Jan. 16
The team has taken to the air with Brandy and Marissa flying East from western Canada and Dave and Gary flying West from the eastern U.S. Everyone is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Nepal.
We were sent off with prayer and these words from Ephesians 3:16-21:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Sunday, Jan. 15
As our team prepares to GO, we share our prayers for the weeks ahead.
Brandy Everts: “I pray that God would give us the strength to do everything He has planned for us and that we would be stretched and challenged so that we are molded more into His image and the final product is that He gets ALL the glory!”
Gary Fallesen: “That we would boldly, fearlessly and lovingly walk through the doors God is opening for us. Here we go, Lord, have Your way.”
Marissa Gardiner: “My prayer is for more salvations than we think possible.”
Megh Gurung: “My prayer is to see God through the team and me. His kingdom come and will be done. May we also be sowers of the seeds, win souls, and praise God from the mountains.”
Pastor Tej Rokka: “It is my prayer that God moves (among the people) at Dapcha as we teach and pray for them. Here are my other prayers:
- “Revival in the (Central Region) church.
- “God may touch our hearts to make plans to repair and reconstruct our old church house so that we can use it for mission work.
- “I want to see at least 10 people coming to Christ in the Central Region village, on the Langtang trek or any other place we visit.
- “One more new church build project to be created.
“Please pray for these desires.”
Dave Stoessel: “I keep picturing my heart filling with the Holy Spirit and overflowing. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will fill all of our hearts and overflow into those who God puts in our path throughout Mission: Nepal. I also pray that our team meshes together to penetrate the dark corners of Nepal with the Light of the Word, and that that the Nepali Christians we encounter, who are but a small minority in their own nation, will inspire all of us with the depth of their faith.”