Mission: Nepal 2019 (Part 1)
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Friday, Feb. 22
Clouds hung over the valley as we ascended into the Manaslu area. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We were in a Middle Eastern airport early this morning when the call to prayer rang out. I was again reading about Jesus giving us the power to “bind and loose” as found in Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18. These commands have come up time and time again in recent weeks and they remain my prayer, first for Nepal and then for the other areas where God is sending us.
Today, God sent Elaine and me to another culture and another environment for the next phase of this trip. We are attending a five-day gathering of like-hearted ministries networking together to access the remaining Muslim unreached people groups. While our focus for the next few days turns to the Muslim world we continue to pray for those Hindus and Buddhists we have encountered in Nepal – in the distant past, the recent past, and even those we have yet to meet. May God bind up the things surrounding them and loose them from the darkness.
Stay tuned for more news from Mission: Nepal and “pray on!” for the work God is doing there – and elsewhere in the Climbing For Christ world.
Thursday, Feb. 21
Gary and Megh planning a trekking route for November. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
We had a breakfast meeting with Megh at our favorite Kathmandu coffee shop, discussing the work ahead. We mapped out a route for Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 2 in November, and planned 2020 expeditions. We also talked about Humla, Rolpa, the church at Pokhara, and how God continues to lead Megh as our worker here. He quoted his guiding verses:
“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you…” – Joshua 1:3 (NKJV)
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 18:18 (NKJV)
My prayer for this expedition had been loose others from darkness and bind up the enemy (based on Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16:19). May we continue to pray those words from Matthew.
Megh told us that Samuel and Budhi had called the night before to say they had made it back to their homes in Phulkharka. They wanted to thank us for taking them to villages they’d never visited. They called “Gary Ba” (Gary father) and “Gary ma” (Elaine mother) their “spiritual parents.” We are honored. They have servants’ hearts unlike any we see in most places. We look forward to serving alongside them again in November.
This was the last day of this trip to Nepal for Elaine and me. We had late night flights out to our next destination – an undisclosed location, where we will meet with other ministries working with Muslim unreached people groups. From Hindus and Buddhists to Muslims to any and all bound by darkness. Until Jesus returns.
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Looking back at the Ganesh Himal. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We said our goodbyes for now to the mountains of the Dhading and Gorkha districts and to our brothers in Christ and Mission: Nepal teammates Samuel, Sukman and Budhi Gurung. We made the long (in time, not miles) drive back to Kathmandu. The short distance – the first half on muddy mountain “roads” and the second half in traffic that resembles ants climbing an ant hill before dropping into Kathmandu Valley – took 8 ½ hours and required two vehicles. Our first Jeep had a brake problem and led Megh to hail a taxi on the main road. Megh, Tej, Elaine and I squeezed into the mini-vehicle with packs and duffle and finished the shock-absorber-less ride. But where else can you catch a cab for 50 kilometers or so for only US $13? Thank God for safe travel.
Break down: A requisite road-side stop. This time a mini-taxi came to the rescue when the brakes on our four-wheel-drive vehicle went bad.
Tuesday, Feb. 19
All was oddly quiet on the spiritual warfare front. I credited our army of prayer warriors and the fact that the enemy territory we thought we were entering already boasted churches in many villages. Then Tej came to Elaine and me this morning for prayer. He was deeply troubled by a recurring nightmare that had him awake and in the Word and in prayer throughout the night. I realized that the real target for Satan here would be our Nepali co-laborers. They are the ones on the front line and in need of our prayers. Please lift Megh and Tej as they do the real work in Nepal.
Megh, Elaine, Tej and Samuel (right to left) after crossing a suspension bridge following a three-hour descent on the other side of the Budhi Gandki. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Storms raged all night with rain and sleet pouring down and temperatures near freezing. The bad weather, unusual during this non-rainy season, continued this morning. We delayed our departure from Kashigaon until finally, during a let-up in the rain, we started a 3.25-mile descent that was steady and steep. The trails were wet and muddy, but the rain held off as we climbed down and down some more for three hours.
Descending from Kashigaon after a night and morning of torrential rains.
In all, we hiked 10 miles to reach Soti Khola, the last village on our trek. A Jeep will pick us up here Wednesday morning to return us to Kathmandu. We completed a 50-kilometer circuit through countless villages. Pray for the work that is already going on, and against the strongholds of the enemy.
Monday, Feb. 18
Morning StairMaster: ascending for nearly one mile after morning coffee. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
After ascending steps and steep trail for nearly one mile from our riverside campsite, we entered Yarsa. Another village with another church that outsiders didn’t know about. Praise God for His presence!
The team – (right to left) Megh, Elaine, Tej, Sukman, Budhi, and Samuel – hiking out of Yarsa, past the local church.
We prayed for one older woman from the church who was ailing and were invited for tea by another younger woman from the church. She’d asked us on the trail and exchanged “jaimashis,” the Nepali greeting among believers. Megh had asked her if she reads the Bible and she explained that she had no schooling so how could she read it. We gave her an audio Bible and she glowed with joy. Truly a “treasure,” as Megh calls the audio Bibles we are blessed to distribute.
Megh and Elaine on the trail to Kashigaon with a view of Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world at 8,163 meters (26,781 feet).
We continued on to Kashigaon, the deepest we will go on this expedition. In November, our team will trek farther north, to the unreached Tsum Valley.
Sunday, Feb. 17
Where we thought there was no church, some already exist. Praise God! (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
How arrogant of us to think there was a place where Jesus hadn’t already visited. In our exuberance to take the Gospel to the most remote mountain people, we forgot God’s already been there. He has gone before us and by the time we came stumbling into the village of Dhunchet on this particular day, He’d already established His church there. Two churches, in fact!
We weren’t alone in our ignorance. A brother from the States who has been living and serving for seven years in Nepal, arrived “looking for the other Christians” he’d heard about on the trail. He’d seen tracks Tej had handed out. He, too, had come to survey this “unreached” area only to discover the church existed. We said the same thing about our arrogance to each other, shared a little about how He is using us here, and then headed in opposite directions. Humbled by the Father – again.
We hiked farther into the Manaslu area, covering about another 10 kilometers of steep terrain far from the tourist routes. One sign tourists don’t come this way: the children don’t ask for candy in every village the way they’ve been spoiled by foreigners on trekking routes. Most on these trails are shy and only interact when we say “namaste.”
Two days ago we passed through the “middle” of nowhere. Today we’re beyond the middle of nowhere. But God’s here. He’s been waiting for us to arrive – and to GO farther into the so-called unreached areas.
Saturday, Feb. 16
The onset of a storm in Manbu. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Imagine an older woman allowing two strange men to enter her home and immediately share how her husband is away. Then, after only a few minutes, invite them and their five companions to stay overnight.
That’s what happened to our team in the village of Manbu, where we hiked from Baseri Bhaise. We were scheduled to stay in Manbu, but for some reason (unknown to me) our plans had changed. Or had they? When we arrived and stopped for a water break, Megh met a woman believer. We learned there was a small church nearby. We also noticed a very nice house in the heart of the village. That’s when a series of thunderstorms began to roll in from the big mountains to our north (including Manaslu, the world’s eighth-highest peak).
Megh and I walked around the outside of the house, looking in at the property, when the owner invited us in. One thing led to another and we were invited to stay rather than trekking on and camping in the rain. She also opened up her kitchen to Samuel, who made dinner for everyone, and we all ate together.
“Nepali warmth,” Tej called it, adding it still exists in the villages, where they think they may be entertaining gods.
The woman, named Sukmaya, is a Buddhist. We are praying this open door was a divine appointment that will change her path or the paths of others in Manbu.
We’d also been pounded by thunderstorms overnight in Baseri Bhaise. We enjoyed our stay there; the people were friendly and inviting. But Megh said it was a stronghold of the enemy. The people appear warm, but their hearts are cold to the Lord. We prayed for Holy Spirit fire to overpower the darkness.
Friday, Feb. 15
Mountains + villages = unreached people. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We stopped in Majuwa to visit with a pastor. Majuwa means "middle." The village was in the middle of nowhere. But we are going deeper into nowhere, which is somewhere to the One who created it. Majuwa was the last church on the trail we are following. Our prayer is: not for long.
Elaine played with some chicks being cared for by a woman rescued by the Majuwa pastor. Years ago the woman showed up naked and out of her mind, probably from demonic possession. The pastor and his wife wrapped her in clothing and brought her inside to pray over her. She never left, coming to Christ and working for the pastor and his wife in their business and the church.
Approaching Baseri Bhaise.
Our trek took us nearly seven miles, traversing around two mountains, to the village of Baseri Bhaise. There is a Buddhist stuppe in the middle of town and we are staying at the house of a Hindu family. But the woman's daughter came to Christ in Phulkharka, so there is light in the darkness here.
We climbed above the village to pray that Jesus' light would shine in more hearts in this place. Some doors have been opened to us and a few tracks were handed out along the way.
Thursday, Feb. 14
Two oxen lock horns as locals pass the time in Sanan. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
A funny thing happened on the way to Phulkharka: a bull fight broke out. We were in the village of Sanan, encouraging a sizable group from the many who came to the Lord after the 2015 earthquake, when several young men and their plow oxen passed by. They invited us to a "bull fight." Outside of town they congregated to cheer their oxen on as they butted heads and pushed each other around a field until one turned and ran. This was done for "fun." We'd never seen this before in Nepal.
Our team was able to pray for many as we hiked from Gumdi up about a 1,100-vertical-foot hill through Sanan and Megh's home village of Dhugla to Phulkharka. This is an area Climbing For Christ helped rebuild after the quake, including the church at Phulkharka. We visited here on Mission: Nepal 2017, Part 1, and I was honored to preach in the rebuilt church.
Phulkharka is home to team member Samuel Gurung, Megh's cousin, and another relative, Sukman Gurung, who is one of our porters. Sukman is the father of Shristi Gurung, one of the children at SARA Home sponsored by Project 1:27. She was placed in Tej's care when her mother left the family and did not return, leaving her father alone and unable to keep two young children on his own.
Wednesday, Feb. 13
We drove from the exhaust-choked gridlock of Kathmandu to the mud-trenched offroads of the Dhading district in a long day of travel. It was only 104 miles (168 kilometers), but it took more than eight hours in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Standard operating procedure.
Our driver called all the bumping and swaying the “Nepal dance.” Amen to that. The driver, born a Hindu, is a member of one of the many cults disguised as Christianity. They use parts of the Bible. In long discussions, Tej encouraged him to read the entire Bible, and he said he would. He will be picking us up at the end of the trek so we will be praying for him.
We arrived at the house of one of only two Christian families in the village of Gumdi. This is the heart of Gurkha territory, where Nepal's elite and proud soldiers came from. Most came from a Buddhist background, but this area is equal parts Hindu and Buddhist.
Tuesday, Feb. 12
God’s children at the SARA home with Pastor Tej, left, and his brother Karna, far right, and sister-in-law Hannah, front right. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Elaine talked about habits – good and bad – and how we should be in the habit of praying. She handed out notebooks to the children of SARA Home and explained about keeping a prayer journal, writing down our prayers and seeing how God answers. She encouraged them to do this from today until at least March 1 and said she can’t wait to see their journals when she returns.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Elaine had the 28 children write Philippians 4:6 in the front of their journals. She then asked me to talk about my prayer journal. Not coincidentally, I had a very recent example of prayer journaling to talk about. It is my habit to read God’s Word daily. This morning as I was studying the Bible, God took me to Matthew 16:17-19 for the third time in recent months. I told the kids, when God does things like that we best be listening.
In Matthew 16:19, Jesus is speaking to Peter – and to us. He says, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
To bind and to loose became my prayer for our eight-day trek, which begins tomorrow. May we loose others from darkness and bind up the enemy. I asked the children to pray for us, too. Tej later repeated this request.
Lydia copying Philippians 4:6 into her notebook.
After this there was a letter exchange. We delivered notes of encouragement from students at Houghton (NY) Academy and the SARA children wrote letters for us to take back. Following the boys' excellent drama of the Parable of the Talents, we handed out gifts: socks, gloves, candy, and soap. We then said our farewells for now. It was a blessed two days with these beautiful children, who we are honored to sponsor through Project 1:27.
Monday, Feb. 11
Elaine shares Ezekiel 36:26 with the children during her Valentine’s Day lesson on God’s love. Hannah, right, who cares for the children, is translating. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Elaine introduced the children sponsored by Project 1:27 to a new treat – Tootsie Roll Pops – as an illustration for something hard on the outside and soft on the inside. She was talking about how God promises to give us a new heart and remove “the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This was part of her lesson on God’s love.
“On Valentine’s Day [a day also celebrated here in Nepal], we are reminded of God’s never-ending and unfailing love for us, and how much we mean to Him,” she told the 28 children. “God’s love is bigger than any other type of love.”
It was the first of two days we are spending at the SARA Children’s Home operated by Pastor Tej’s Kathmandu-based ministry. Climbing For Christ has supported the children since April 2011. At the moment, six children are still in need of a sponsor. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Our teams always visit the Children’s Home, often delivering gifts and providing Bible lessons. Although most (if not all) arrived in Tej’s care as non-believers, Jesus said let these little children come to Me. They are full of God’s love.
Tej, once an orphan himself, found salvation as a child. He, his pastor brother (Karna) and sister-in-law (Hannah) love on these children as if they were all their own. And we are blessed at least once and often twice a year to do the same.
Sunday, Feb. 10
Kathmandu on a rare clear day. For years I have come here and never been able to see the mountains through the weather or smog. Today, the weather cleared; a worker in our hotel said winter has ended and summer is beginning. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Pastor Tej was leading us through Ephesians 4 and speaking about the unity of the body of Christ in verses 1-16. “This is very important for building the team for (the delivery of) the Gospel,” he said.
That was the purpose of our two days of study together at the start of this mission. The time is called a “S.W.A.P.meet,” based on Steve Smith’s book Spirit Walk. A “S.W.A.P.meet” is a meeting in which a ministry team collectively and individually Surrenders to His will, Waits on God in prayer, Avoids sin, and Pursues the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We do so through a concentrated time of worship, study of the Word, and prayer.
Our four-person U.S.-Nepali team took turns leading discussion as we finished the Book of Ephesians. Megh did chapter 3, Tej chapter 4, Elaine chapter 5, and I covered chapter 6.
We completed the study by focusing on the Battle Against Evil (Ephesians 6:10-20). We discussed the armor of God, read a teaching in the Spiritual Warfare Bible on “The Army of Hell,” and worked through an exercise called “The Spirit’s Sword” (Ephesians 6:16-18). The sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) is the only offensive weapon found in the armor of God. Before taking up the sword, we underwent some spiritual surgery, identifying areas of our lives that could provide a foothold for the enemy. We are praying for Holy Spirit help in these areas (i.e. emotions, habits, motives, attitudes) as well as things we need Him to do to prepare us for an offensive attack.
We then prayed that we would be empowered to be on the offensive – rather than waiting to be attacked – as we trek into the Manaslu area in the coming days. “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are GO-ing on a rescue mission: to free souls from the bondage of darkness.
Saturday, Feb. 9
Gary preaching with Megh translating, above, on a cold and rainy day at the Milap Church, below. Gary wore a daura, a traditional Nepali top, given to him on a previous Mission: Nepal by Megh and his wife Bhim. (Photos by Elaine and Gary Fallesen)
We worshiped at Megh’s home church and I was honored to share a message, “Gurkhas for Jesus,” in which I encouraged this body of believers to GO into the world with the Gospel rather than waiting for the world to come to them. I told them we need to be more like the original church of the New Testament (“fishers of men”) and put down our nets and fulfill the Great Commission.
I talked about preparing for spiritual battle and realizing God has given us the tools to do His work (Philippians 2:9-11, Luke 10:19, Ephesians 6:11-18). “God will hide us and protect us,” I said, using the example of Megh praying for eyes to be closed to the audio Bibles we successfully carried into Nepal.
We then prayed for boldness for the church to advance.
“Those who chase after other gods, their sorrows will be multiplied…” – Psalm 16:4 (MEV)
Elaine, Megh, Tej and I met later in the day to begin our “Spirit Walk” together. This two-day study is focusing on Ephesians and is intended to prepare us to serve together as one. We kicked off the first 2 ½ hours by looking at Psalm 16 in each of the versions of our Bibles (MEV, NIV, and Nepali). Verse 4, above, leapt off the page in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures we are engaging.
I read a prayer sent to us by Louis-Olivier Petelle, a C4C Canada Board member and a participant in our 24/7 Prayer Watch. He suggested we listen to Hillsong’s “What a Beautiful Name.” We then prayed in the beautiful name of Jesus to Surrender to His will, Wait on God in prayer, Avoid sin, and Pursue the promptings of the Holy Spirit (or S.W.A.P.) – all part of missionary Steve Smith’s ministry moving book Spirit Walk: The Extraordinary Power of Acts for Ordinary People. This book was used by Climbing For Christ staff on retreat in October 2018 and by team members on Mission: Kilimanjaro 2018.
We spent time discussing Ephesians 1 and 2 and following “rabbit trails” (or cross-references) of Scripture. Example: a reference to the “sword of the Spirit” in the introduction to Ephesians in my Spiritual Warfare study Bible took us to Psalm 18:34 and an excellent teaching on the “Six Essentials for the Warrior.” Those are: submission, passion, discipline, vision, power, and excellence. “Every church must become a spiritual armory,” the lesson said, “preparing its people for the struggle against the darkness.” I couldn’t have said it any better in my message this morning.
Friday, Feb. 8
Flying from Istanbul to Kathmandu we crossed many mountains, including this incredible expanse of snow-covered peaks in Afghanistan. Just as we prayed for the people in Turkey, we lift those living in darkness in Afghanistan as well. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We arrived safely in Kathmandu early this afternoon (local time), completing more than 36 hours of air travel (half of which was spent on planes and the other half waiting in airports). All of our gear arrived with us, including 75 audio Bibles donated to Megh by World Mission. “The treasure,” Megh calls them.
Megh and Pastor Tej greeted us at the airport, drove us to our hotel, and ate lunch with us. We’ll be spending most of our time the next 13 days together. We praised God for this opportunity. Kingdom-building work awaits.
Thursday, Feb. 7
We are entering the Hindu (and Buddhist) world through the Muslim world, with a stopover in Turkey. We should be back here in just a few months. Long layovers in New York City and Istanbul en route to Kathmandu, where we arrive tomorrow. The days blur as you cross multiple time zones. We will be 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead of the Home Office while in Nepal. Let the jetlag begin!
Wednesday, Feb. 6
Once upon a time I wrote a book with my climbing partner about his ascent of Mount Everest. I couldn’t have imagined that a few years later God would have me leading a ministry that would send a team to Everest Base Camp. Never mind that it would be the first of 16 expeditions in 11 years to Nepal.
We have been blessed with a front-row seat to witness God building one of the fastest-growing churches in the world.
Mission: Nepal 2019 (Part 1) begins today. The HIStory of this mission is rich and fruitful and includes the planting of countless churches, construction of five houses of worship, support of several indigenous workers, sponsoring of dozens of orphaned children, and trekking hundreds of miles into remote corners of this beautiful but dark Himalayan country.
As my wife Elaine and I prepared to GO on this trip, ministry partner Pastor Tej Rokka welcomed us again. “Nepal needs you and is waiting for you,” he wrote. “I am praying that God would lead us and bless us in our time together here.
“In Jesus’s Name we claim Dhading and Gorkha districts as we trek those areas. Please let us keep praying and expecting God to do great things.” Amen!
“Please do not feel stress,” our brother said, encouragingly. “Come with joy and rejoicing with what God has been doing in Nepal.”
We celebrate God’s work in a place where persecution is on the rise, especially among Hindu background believers who are pressured for betraying the faith of their ancestors. Pray for continued boldness for a church facing anti-conversion laws. Praise God for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
CLICK HERE for the Mission: Nepal 2019 prayer bulletin.