Mission: Nepal 2016, Part 2
Saturday, Sept. 17-Friday, Sept. 30
By Gary Fallesen
Climbing For Christ
Friday, Sept. 30
The mountain-side village of Takla, right, under heavy clouds earlier this week. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We all carry different memories home from a trip like this one. For me, the encounter with Dankse, the grieving father in Takla, will remain etched on my heart [see Sunday, Sept. 25 and Monday, Sept. 26]. As we returned to our respective homes today (Brandy and Matthew to western Canada and Jesse and me to Western New York) I was praying for Dankse and how the Holy Spirit is bringing him to the Lord.
Evangelic Expeditions enter places in the Majority World where the spiritual realm is as real to the people as the physical stuff all around them and us. This is foreign to many in so-called developed nations.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).
Padam, right, praying to accept Jesus with (left to right) Pastor Megh, Dr. Matthew, and brother Prem during Mission: Nepal 2015.
One story Dankse told us about his son Padam’s death showed the reality of life in a Hindu (or Buddhist or fill-in-the-blank) stronghold. Dankse said he knew his son had found the truth because when he was gone there was an odd sense of peace in Takla. “Two others died after my son,” he told us in Nepali. “When they died, at night there would be knocking on the doors and noises outside the houses (in the village) at night.” Those who had died were not at peace; nor was the community they haunted.
Darkness and evil lurks around the corners of these villages where God sends us to proclaim His love, His hope, and His peace. May we relentlessly seek to bring His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.
Thursday, Sept. 29
We saved the best Nepali meal for last: lunch at Megh’s house. Megh’s wife Bhim makes the best momos in Nepal and we feasted before making plans for the future of Mission: Nepal and heading for the airport for evening flights back to North America.
Wednesday, Sept. 28
We made the day-long two-hour flight from Simikot back to Kathmandu after saying goodbye (for now) to our friends in Humla. Before leaving, this is what the church build looked like:
During our week in Nepal’s Far West district, we trekked nearly 40 miles (more than 60 kilometers) on steep, up-and-down terrain in all sorts of conditions (from rain to hot sunshine). It was a blessed time walking through just a few of the many valleys in Humla.
The trail leading back from Takla and other remote places, above, and some of our family of believers in Simikot during worship last Saturday, below. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Tuesday, Sept. 27
We completed seven days of trekking by making the short (but steep) hike from Hildum back to Simikot. Frustratingly, Hildum remains a Hindu stronghold. I shared this vexation with Pastor Harka and our Nepali trekking mates Thana, Kali and Dhanman when we visited the Simikot church to see the work done since worship on Saturday.
I implored them to be a church on the GO and continue to visit the remote villages, where new believers often are isolated and pressured by the community to turn from Jesus. We (Jesse, Matthew, Brandy, Megh and me) then prayed with our Nepali family members for the church and the mission.
We saw other family as we traveled around the town, including a visit with Hari, who was the first Christian in Humla and our first contact here in 2012. He is married and expecting his first child in December. We also had a strange (albeit friendly) encounter with a group of Buddhists (one a Nepali who has a center in Pittsburgh, PA, USA) planning to build a new Buddhist temple in Simikot. It was a reminder of the forces working against us.
Monday, Sept. 26
Dankse, left, hearing more about Jesus from Megh. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
The father of our late younger brother in Christ promised to come see us before we broke camp. But as we packed up there was no sign of him. We did our team daily devotional (four North Americans and four Nepali) and I closed with prayer, which included lifting the father and asking the Holy Spirit to move in his heart.
Shortly after our “amen!” the father walked into camp.
Dankse, who is 60, sat with us and talked about his son, Padam, who died last year. Padam accepted Jesus when our team visited Takla in March 2015. He was outspoken against the Hindu practices of his village and refused to participate in community events. He was found dead, supposedly from suicide. He allegedly poisoned himself. We have our suspicions. God alone knows.
Dankse listened to his son’s audio Bible and the teachings took root. We shared some more with him. He said he wanted to accept Christ, but needed to take care of some personal business: he is a Hindu priest. We prayed for him and left confident that he will be our brother in Christ one day soon.
We hiked for several hours in warm sun going six miles to Hildum, another village we have visited on each of our five trips to Humla. We will camp on the same rooftop we have frequented in the past. (In Nepal we often can only find flat ground to sleep on top of roofs.)
Hildum is the home village to “Super Debi,” as we call her. She was a young woman on fire for the Lord when we were here last time. She organized a house church in her parents’ home, even though they are not believers. We heard Super Debi joined the military and feared she’d fallen away from the Lord. Thankfully, we learned she is still a passionate believer. God is simply using her somewhere else to share Him with others.
Sunday, Sept. 25
We were approached in the remote, dirty village of Takla by a man whose son accepted Christ on our last visit and died shortly thereafter. His father told us that no one could put up their hand for Jesus because they would die. His stern look said that it was our fault his son had died.
As a father with my son standing a few feet away I felt a heavy sadness, and a twinge of foreboding. Darkness hung over the village.
Megh politely listened and prayed for Holy Spirit intercession. The grieving, angry father walked away, but he returned again later as we prepared to move on to the next place. Megh stayed behind as we left and the man walked with him. His demeanor had changed. He expressed sadness at the loss of his son, but Megh explained that the young man knew Jesus and he could find peace in our Savior.
The man said he wanted that. We rejoiced at this Holy Spirit moment.
We started the day in Torpa, a Buddhist stronghold, before descending a steep 1 1/2 miles to Thehe. Dhanman Shing, who joined us in this second leg of the trek, hosted us on his rooftop for lunch. Dhanman is the brother of the first Christian in Thehe and brother-in-law of Kali, who has been trekking with us. We first met Dhanman on Mission: Nepal 2012 when we prayed with him and his sister.
Our team continued another two miles along the Gyabru River. We set up camp near the river before climbing up to Takla and Banta, the most distant villages in the direction we are traveling.
Urmila, a Christian girl we met last year across the valley, is living now in Banta. She was forced to marry a non-Christian. But after Brandy gave her a gift Urmila said goodbye in a Nepali Christian salutation, “Jaimishi” (victory in the Lord). We pray that she holds Jesus in her heart.
Saturday, Sept. 24
The church at Simikot. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
HIStory was made as the church at Simikot was dedicated to the LORD today, the Sabbath in Nepal. This is the first church built in the Far West district of Humla.
Pastor Harka told the more than 30 members of the church who gathered with us how they had prayed for a house of worship since Climbing For Christ first came in 2012. God provided through C4C. We gave all the praise, honor and glory to Him.
Gary Fallesen, left, and Brandy Fisher, representing C4C Canada, doing ribbon cutting. (Photo by Jesse Fallesen)
I shared in a message, “Christ, our cornerstone,” how this is God’s house. “God tells the prophet Isaiah, ‘I am the one who has laid as a foundation - a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation’ (Isaiah 28:16).” The church at Simikot is built of stone and built on the Rock, Jesus Christ.
I then urged them to do what we as “His house” (Ephesians 2:20), the body of Christ, are called to do: GO into all the villages and share the hope and love of Jesus.
Each member of the team spoke words of encouragement, including C4C Canada coordinator Brandy Fisher, who was moved to tears of joy. We told them how we love them and yet God loves them even more, and we prayed for this church to glorify His name.
This was not a day of rest for our team. After worship, we set out for the next village. We hiked about three hours for 5 1/2 miles to Torpa, a place we had visited on all five Expeditions to Humla.
Friday, Sept. 23
Hiking back into Simikot. The church is located to the right of the runway. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
When we reached Simikot this time the news was much better: Pastor Harka, who had been too sick to greet us when we arrived Wednesday, came for a visit. We learned that both Thana and Hari, two of the original seven believers in Humla, are going to be fathers in December.
We met Hari and Thana on Mission: Nepal 2012. They asked us to pray for women to come to Christ since the seven followers were all men. Our prayers were answered because right now there are seven women in the church at Simikot who are pregnant.
Megh shares with the family that hosted us where we camped in Kholasi.
We arrived in Simikot after another big day of hiking. Our team broke camp in Kholasi in the morning and made a steep two-mile ascent up the ridge leading back down to Simikot. We took a different route than when we hiked out on Wednesday, but still needed to climb 3,000-plus vertical feet.
After 6 1/2 miles of hiking in warm sunshine we concluded the first leg of the trek. We covered a lot of ground between Wednesday afternoon and this afternoon. We’ll cover even more when we set out after the church dedication on Saturday. There are many seeds to sow as we prepare for a great harvest.
Thursday, Sept. 22
The house we were visiting in the mountainside village of Kholasi filled up with people desiring to see Dr. Matthew. It was the usual cases of headaches, stomach problems, and knee pains. The man we’d come to see was more serious; he needed to go to the hospital. Matthew offered to pray for him and made it clear that the medicine he had would not help, only God could heal him.
After this impromptu clinic Megh shared about Jesus. The room began to clear faster than it had filled. The Hindu people had no interest. They wanted only a Band-aid for their terminal illness. The handful who stayed heard about the Great Physician and received prayer.
We hiked into Kholasi looking for an open door. It happened almost immediately. A woman and then her adult son struck up a conversation and invited us into their house for tea and roasted corn on the cob. This is where Matthew began serving up medicine and offering prayer for the ailing. Megh and Thana distributed 15 audio Bibles among this family and their friends.
“…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” — Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)
We completed a six-mile circuit after our Kholasi visit, returning to camp in Dharapuri for a second night. Our hike on a dreary, rainy day took us even farther up the trails leading to Tibetan China. The purpose was to fulfill one of Megh’s favorite verses, Joshua 1:3, where God promises wherever Joshua’s feet step the land will be given to him. Megh believes wherever we go in prayer and God’s direction, the Lord will raise up believers. Amen!
Wednesday, Sept. 21
Work continues on the church at Simikot. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Our excitement of arriving in Humla was tempered by seeing the church at Simikot still unfinished and learning that brother Thana’s 1-year-old child had died last month from heart problems. Thana, who serves as our muleteer when we trek, was among the original handful of Christians we met in 2012 and he was the second brother from the church to be married.
We did our daily devotional as a team with Thana, Kali from Thehe, and Pastor Harka’s wife Bishnu. It was fitting as we discussed Christ, our foundation, and prayed for the church here. The church continues to grow despite setbacks.
We visited the church building, which we will dedicate to the LORD on Saturday, and then we set out for a new village.
It was a pretty big hike for a late start, taking us more than five miles, up and over one 10,500-foot pass, steeply down about 3,000 vertical feet, and along a river. We reached Dharapuri at nightfall. After having begun the day in Nepalgunj (elevation 513 feet) we covered a lot of ground. Praise God for bringing us to this place at this time.
Tuesday, Sept. 20
A sea of clouds and mountains on the flight across Nepal. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
It takes two days to get from Kathmandu to Simikot, the district headquarters for Humla. Two one-hour flights stretched over two days. Welcome to Nepal air travel.
We flew from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, a hot-and-humid outpost on the India border, where we must overnight before a dawn flight to Simikot. The delays, caused perhaps by thunderstorms, were longer than the flight itself. Everyone was tired out by inactivity. Lord willing we finish our flying tomorrow and hit the ground hiking – trekking to the first village on our planned route.
Monday, Sept. 19
To get a taste of Nepal’s culture we often take teams to two important sites in Kathmandu: Swayambhu and Pashupati. Swayambhu, also known as the “Monkey Temple” because of the presence of so many monkeys on the grounds, is shared by Buddhists and Hindus. It is a most sacred location to Tibetan Buddhists and considered one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal. Pashupati is the largest Hindu temple in the country and the place where bodies are cremated into the supposedly holy Bagmati River. The Hindu god Shiva, the national deity of Nepal, is honored along the river banks, where yogis (or “jogi”) come to meditate and get paid by tourists to pose for photos.
A Hindu prayer ceremony is carried out at Swayambhu, above, while bodies burn at Pashupati, below. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Pastor Tej, Brandy and I brought Matthew and Jesse to these two sites for their first time as we began adjusting to our surroundings and the work ahead of us. We also visited Tej’s church and inched our way through the usual Kathmandu holiday traffic – today was Constitution Day, marking the second anniversary of now-secular Nepal’s rewritten Constitution. There were protests along the way by political parties focused on returning the country to a Hindu monarchy.
Nepal is a complex mix of Hindu, Buddhist, Maoist (the prime minister is a Maoist), and tourist. The emerging church is just another – important – part of this intriguing Himalayan nation’s character. We are blessed to be a part of that.
Sunday, Sept. 18
Jesse and I landed in Kathmandu this evening, greeted by Pastor Tej, brother Megh, and Brandy and Matthew. The Fishers visited Tej’s SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) orphanage that is sponsored by Climbing For Christ. Here is Brandy’s report:
The children at the SARA house outside Kathmandu. (Photo by Brandy Fisher)
We visited the orphanage in the afternoon. There were many new faces of children we hadn’t seen before who live at the orphanage. In total, SARA has 55 children at three locations. Pastor Tej explained that many children are either total orphans or have one parent alive. Tej said: “It is a huge problem now when one parent dies and the alive one gets remarried then the child is left to survive on its own because they are not accepted by the new parent.”
Matthew did physical check-ups on 31 children and overall the health of the children was good. Many children were concerned that they would have to get a needle – so they were relieved when they were healthy!
We then handed out gifts to the children who were given from generous supporters in Canada. The room was buzzing with excitement as the children opened their packages. The children proceeded to sing Christian songs and preform dances in appreciation.
Saturday, Sept. 17
Twenty-seven years ago today I was holding my newborn son at Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY, USA. Now he is sitting next to me as we fly from Rochester to Kathmandu, Nepal. This is Jesse’s sixth Evangelic Expedition with Climbing For Christ, dating back to our first two missions (Mexico and Dominican Republic/Haiti) in 2005. He’s also been to China, Tanzania and Peru. This is his first Mission: Nepal. It is my 10th Nepal trip in six years, and the 50th C4C mission I’ve been blessed to lead.
We’ll be meeting up with Nepali members Tej Rokka and Megh Gurung, who both joined Climbing For Christ in 2009 and have worked with us since 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Teammates Brandy and Matthew Fisher arrived in Kathmandu tonight. This is Brandy’s 11th mission with C4C and her fifth trip with us to Nepal. She is our C4C Canada coordinator. Her husband Matthew is on his third Mission: Nepal. Soon we’ll all be serving together. Praise Him!
Friday, Sept. 16
Brandy and Matthew Fisher flew out of western Canada heading toward Nepal. They are scheduled to arrive late Saturday night. I leave Saturday morning from western New York with my son Jesse, who is celebrating his 27th birthday on Saturday. Our North American team will meet Sunday night in Kathmandu, where we’ll be joined by our Nepali members and ministry partners. Here we GO!
The church being built at Simikot on Sept. 6. (Photo by Pastor Harka)
The church in Nepal continues to grow. Never mind the obstacles: a Hindu-majority population, Buddhist strongholds in the mountains, Christians who are for the most part first generation, and a secular-led government that really isn’t interested in the religious freedom it supposedly advocated.
“Now another new government has formed in Nepal,” said long-time Climbing For Christ member Megh Gurung. “I don’t know what this government (will do). But the last government decided very bad and nasty (things) for the Christians. They are checking the orphanages, run by Christians or not. Those who are sharing the Gospel to others (are) arrested and put in prison. They are not to allow evangelism among the people.”
Fear not, God tells us. “God knows everything here and what He should do for the Nepalese,” Megh said.
Under construction: building the church at Simikot inside and out in early September. (Photos by Pastor Harka)
As Climbing For Christ prepared for its 12th expedition to Nepal since 2008 to visit our latest contribution to the growth of the church – a house of worship in the Far West district of Humla – we asked about the timing of Mission: Nepal 2016, Part 2.
“We have to go to Humla,” Megh responded. “I have not fear with evil. God will (provide) guidance wherever we go and will send His angels’ protection for us.”
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
CLICK HERE to read Mission Moments from August, “On these rocks we will build His church.”
Watch “Humla’s House of Worship” and C4C’s Nepal Prayer Video.