Dispatches: Nepal 2021
Mission: Nepal 2021
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
The beauty of Nepal’s mountains (here in along the trails in the northwest district of Humla) stand in stark contrast to the ugliness of an impoverished country mired in Hinduism, Buddhism, and legally opposed to conversion to Christianity. Pray for the church in Nepal. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Monday, Nov. 1
It was a fitting way to finish our time in Nepal – 20 days of fruitful ministry wracked by constant “obstacles” (for lack of a better word). The challenges were great at times. As Climbing For Christ Board member Michele Hoffman surmised: “Feeling encouraged and inspired by all that the Lord is doing and knowing that the attacks are because the advances are so great!”
We sat in gridlock, several times not moving an inch for 10-to-15 minutes, as Pastor Tej drove us to the Kathmandu airport Sunday night. It was rush hour and the start of the next Hindu holiday. (In Nepal, Sunday is just another workday. And there are 80-something Hindu holidays on the calendar.)
Finally, as we inched along, a van in the next “lane” (only a suggestion in Nepal) cut in front of Tej and took off the front fender of his SUV. A traffic cop whistled and collected the licenses of both drivers. In Nepal, it’s usually up to the drivers to settle accidents. The other driver was clearly to blame, but that doesn’t matter. We once were hit by a drunk driver and our driver ended up paying him for damages after an hour of arguing so we could get going again.
We sat alongside the road, literally one minute from our hotel but more than 45 minutes this evening, figuring we were going to miss our flight. But God is good all the time. Tej managed to get his license back, his brother Karna and Megh photographed the license plate of the other vehicle, and we negotiated horrendous Kathmandu traffic to get to a mobbed airport. Because it’s another Hindu holiday, Nepalis were going everywhere.
Stuck in traffic: A common occurrence in Kathmandu, but exacerbated Sunday night when a van cut off and sideswiped our vehicle. Here, a traffic cop surveys the damage before collecting drivers’ licenses and motioning both vehicles to the side of a very busy, congested road. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Long story short (too late) we made our flight, connected narrowly in Doha, Qatar, and after 18 ½ hours of flying landed on U.S. soil. They wouldn’t let us do a Pope-like kiss of the tarmac at JFK, but it was in our hearts. We are grateful to God, Who protected us throughout an eventful Mission: Nepal 2021. We were blessed to be a blessing. We thank Him for returning us to Rochester, NY this evening, and we have already begun praying about Mission: Nepal 2022. Though the obstacles – from pandemic travel to anti-conversion laws to spiritual opposition – are on the increase, we press on. For HIS glory!
Sunday, Oct. 31
Prayer flags hanging at our Kathmandu hotel. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We met with Megh to discuss Mission: Nepal 2022, when we will trek a new area where no ministries are working. That’s how our work began in Humla nine years ago – no other ministries were there at the time; now many are serving the Lord in that part of the country. So, we move on to a new area to begin planting seeds.
We are excited about the possibility. More about Mission: Nepal 2022 will be announced shortly.
Megh brought his cousin Samuel with him to see us. Samuel, who has trekked with us on four expeditions, took the bus after worship on Saturday from his home village of Phulkharka to Kathmandu – a seven-hour ride – just to say “jaimashi” to us. (Jaimashi is the Nepali Christian greeting, which means “Victory in the Lord.”)
We are flying tonight from Kathmandu to return to the United States, Lord willing. If all goes as scheduled, we will be home Monday around 7 p.m. local time.
Saturday, Oct. 30
Megh’s Milap Church in Kathmandu, above, is growing up. Below, Megh with Pastor Khagendra Tamang. The two have been leading Milap Church together since starting it in 1999. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We worshiped with more than 100 believers in Megh’s Milap Church in Kathmandu. It was my third straight Saturday teaching about abiding – first in Pokhara then in Simikot and now in Kathmandu. In all, I taught this John 15 lesson seven times in two weeks to about 400 brothers and sisters in Christ. Seven is the number of completion; I am finished for now.
The Milap Church started an expansion project in August 2020 and Megh said they are waiting on the Lord to finish the new worship hall, which would be on the second floor. The current hall will be used for expanded Sunday school classes.
Megh recalled starting the church when Elaine and I had our customary momo lunch at the Gurung house after worship. At first, it was Megh, his wife Bhim, their son Subash, and Pastor Khagendra Tamang. Khagendra’s wife joined later.
“Khagendra wanted to invite those who had backslid (from the faith),” Megh said. “I said, ‘No, we’ve got to make converts and bring new people to church.’”
He said the first year no one came.
“Slowly, slowly we had many people,” Megh said. “It was like Dharmashala (the church in Rolpa Climbing For Christ helped build). When we started going there, I didn’t want to stay more than one night. I remember one time crying. I told them to have a fellowship, and two women showed up.”
Likewise, I remember sensing evil when we first went there, and I had no desire to build a church there. But God thought otherwise.
Today, Dharmashala is going on 200 believers. The same at Megh’s home church in Kathmandu.
We praise God for this amazing growth in the church in Nepal.
Friday, Oct. 29
Anisha, right, plays Dr. Jesus examining the heart of a sinful boy, played by Dikshya, in a drama about Galatians 5. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Dr. Jesus was in the house. SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) ministry’s main house of worship in Kathmandu, that is. Nine girls from the SARA Children’s Home acted out their dramatization of Galatians 5:16-26 (Walk by the Spirit). It was the conclusion to our day together with 31 of the children sponsored by our Project 1:27 (based on James 1:27).
Elaine started the day by going around the room and correctly guessing the name of every child, even though she hadn’t seen them for 2 ½ years – and there has been a lot of growing up happening here.
Elaine guesses Shristi Chaurel’s name, much to the joy of each of the children.
This was followed by baptismal gifts given to Lokendra, Nabin, Ram, and Akangksha. Lokendra received a bonus: a study Bible purchased by his sponsor in Australia.
Elaine gave Kamala a Kamala Harris doll because the last time she was here she told the children, “The only Kamala I’d ever known was Kamala Bishowkarma, and now we have a U.S. presidential candidate named Kamala.” She told the children that candidate became the first female vice president.
Then we settled down to the lesson of the day. On Mission: Nepal 2019 (Part 1), Elaine taught about prayer and left them with an assignment of doing prayer journaling. She told them she would be checking up on them when she came back the next year. But the next year was a pandemic that postponed our return several times until now.
Most of the children still had their journals and have been filling up with prayers. Swostika had written 112 prayer requests and said 41 had been answered. Rosmita had 57 requests with 21 answered. Elaine encouraged them to continue prayer journaling, then she asked me to speak a little about abiding – the lesson I’ve been teaching in churches all across Nepal.
We told them to spend more time studying His Word (“read the Bible every day”); spend more time talking to Him (“pray, pray, pray”); and spend more time being still and listening.
The kids from SARA Children’s Home with Pastor Tej, left, and Hanna Rokka, who cares for the children, right. Elaine is in the middle of all the children.
Letters Elaine requested from sponsors were then delivered. Twenty-eight of the 31 children are sponsored. Only eight-year-old Peshal, and sisters Manisha, 8, and Saru, 5, are not sponsored. Sponsors pay $50 a month. All the children have come to SARA Home from false religions, and they now follow Jesus.
More letters of encouragement – this time from Houghton Academy in New York state – were passed out to the children. Then a treat and a pair of socks were given to each child. The socks were donated by Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Store in Rochester, NY.
When we were done with our part of the program, Pastor Tej and his kids took over. Dances broke out, as is the custom during our visit. We were honored with a letter of appreciation from Tej, a “thank you” poem written and read by Anisha, and the Galatians drama with Anisha playing Dr. Jesus. She healed the character, played by Dikshya, plagued by “the works of the flesh” found in Galatians 5:19-21 (impurity, idolatry, sorcery, envy – to name a few).
The fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,” etc. – is evident in these children. We love having the chance to share the love of Jesus every time we visit.
Elaine and me with one of the children we sponsor, Manisha. We have supported her since the start of Project 1:27 in 2011. She is Anisha’s older sister. The cross over our head was a gift from Elaine to the church in honor of her father, Robert Busse, whose inheritance to Elaine was put toward building this church. (Photo by Anisha Pakhrin)
Thursday, Oct. 28
We enjoyed one of life’s simpler pleasures with our first espresso in 11 days at our favorite coffee shop in Kathmandu. Then, after sadly discovering that the Sherpa Adventure Gear store had closed (another pandemic victim), we broke pizza with Megh and Pastor Tej Rokka.
Tej, who has been a partner in ministry since 2010, met with us to discuss the children sponsored by our Project 1:27 in his SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) Home outside Kathmandu. It is the No. 1 children’s home among the 30 in the city of Thali, even though authorities are always inspecting and looking for ways to shut the home because of its Christian affiliation.
We talked about ministry and Tej shared the vision God has given him for the next year and the nine years to follow, starting with SARA’s 25th anniversary celebration in April. He asked for prayer for an expansion project on SARA’s main Kathmandu church, which Climbing For Christ helped Tej build in 2013. The church has raised $20,000 of the $50,000 USD he estimates the addition of two upper floors will cost.
His 10-year vision includes the development of a training center in each of the country’s seven provinces, expanding radio ministry, building a retreat center (“prayer tower”) in Dapcha where God used us to help build our first church in Nepal, and add “orphans” to the SARA Home when a need is presented. Currently there are 33 children in SARA’s care.
All of this as he and all of our brothers and sisters “continue to deal with the challenge of Christianity being illegal” in Nepal.
Wednesday, Oct. 27
Team Humla: (left to right) Bhakta, a leader in the church at Simikot; C4C Kingdom worker and guide Megh Gurung; Thana, who Climbing For Christ supports with a monthly stipend to serve in Humla; and Gary and Elaine Fallesen. (Photo by Megh Gurung)
We said our goodbyes to Humla this morning and took nearly 16 hours to fly for one hour and 43 minutes – going from Simikot to Nepalgunj to Kathmandu. The first flight was two hours late, but you are always thankful to get a flight out of Simikot. There was a long layover in Nepalgunj. The second flight was on the runway when a “technical problem” was observed, and the plane had to return to the terminal for a repair job. We prayed and whatever MacGyvering was done worked and we made it safely back to Kathmandu, tired from 10 days in western parts of Nepal.
Tuesday, Oct. 26
Hiking the rugged trails of Humla from the village of Thehe back to Simikot. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We hiked more than 11 miles in the hot sun the last two days – six miles to the village of Thehe on Monday and then more than five as we returned to Simikot a different way today – so we could visit the house church that has grown in that Hindu village. We worshiped with them Monday night and I shared about abiding and encouraged the church to keep GO-ing and keep growing for HIS glory.
Trails have been damaged by recent unseasonable rains, but they were not impassable. We saw the landslide area that knocked out power to the district in September. The mountainsides are mostly dark at night because of the lack of electricity. Winter is coming, too. Temperatures at night were around freezing. Soon the snow above 11,000 feet will descend on the villages.
We tent camped again on the roof Kali’s house. Kali’s wife Dhankali was the original believer in the village. When we first trekked into Thehe in 2012, we prayed in secret for Dhankali and her brother Dhanman, who were the only two believers there at the time. In fact, the opposition was so great on our early visits that our 2012 team had stones thrown at it by the many children in the village as we departed. On another visit, we showed the Jesus film outdoors on a sheet and two Hindu men threw rocks through our makeshift screen.
Despite the opposition by the time we returned for our second visit in 2013 the church had grown from two to 18, and we worshiped outdoors on a rooftop in the evening. Kali was among the new believers; he is now the church’s leader.
The church has grown to 50 – praise the Lord! – and we worshiped with about 20 of them inside the room they have rented the past six months. We pray they will outgrow that room.
Kali, right, and some of the church at Thehe singing praise and worship. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
As we hiked to Thehe on Monday, we walked through the village of Hildum and met the father of a girl God used us to lead to the Lord many years ago. We called her “Super Debi” because she was on fire for Jesus. Her father was happy to see us. We continued along the trail and Megh motioned to the mountainsides below us and said of the farmers there, “They bring in their crops, but they don’t bring in a harvest. They are not harvesting the souls.”
We are praying for a ripened mission field – and local workers willing to GO and proclaim the Gospel.
Thehe, situated on the mountainside on the right, sits at about 8,500 feet/2,590 meters. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
The trail to Thehe – our standard route – required more than 2,500 vertical feet of descending and 1,100 feet of ascending. On the way back, we climbed more than 2,500 feet back up to Simikot. Trekking in Nepal requires long steep descents followed by long steep ascents as you hike over and around mountains and deep ravines.
We were nearly dehydrated from a lack of water, which is a story for another day. When we returned to Simikot, pani (water) was waiting for us at the guesthouse. It had been flown in but was three days late. There was also a lunch of our favorite momos to welcome us back. A small reward for which we were thankful. We also give thanks for two weeks of good health (so far) and the Lord’s protection in all our comings and goings.
Sunday, Oct. 24
Sunday in Simikot, the district headquarters of Humla, which sits at about 10,000 feet/3,000 meters and is surrounded by snow-covered peaks. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We were invited to lunch at Pastor Harka’s house where the question about what sort of ministry he is doing in Humla went unanswered. The message we shared about abiding did not appear to fall on ears that could hear. This has been a frustration we have experienced since helping the church at Simikot build a house of worship. The church is affiliated with another ministry so we have no real say; we can only deliver messages of encouragement and pray for the Spirit to move the pastor.
One member of the church, Thana, has been active through the years. We praise God for this. Thana is a dear brother who Climbing For Christ supports with a small monthly stipend. Thana treks with us when we come, and he will again when we hike tomorrow to Thehe, Lord permitting, to teach about abiding in that beautiful house church.
Thana and his five-year-old son Caleb. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We sat with Thana this afternoon and went through the last six trips to Humla (this being the seventh in 10 years). We played “Where are they now?” with all of those we have encountered through the years and the many God used us to lead to Jesus.
Sadly, many are no longer believers. Most of the young women who accepted Christ ended up marrying Buddhists. In some places, like the village of Takla, which is a Hindu stronghold, the few converts that were made were pressured and quickly returned to their old ways. Or, in the case of one, were killed.
“Christian girls as they grow up and they want to get married, they do not see the heart; they see the face,” Megh explained. He told the story of trying to help young women marry Christian men in his Kathmandu church, where he was so frustrated by what they would tell him he has declared that God made him a soul saver, not a matchmaker.
Women are not the only ones backsliding, however. “Guys are forced by the community, ‘Don’t follow Jesus!’” Megh explained. “And they stop.”
This reminds me of Jesus’ Parable of the Four Soils found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. Some people aren’t ready to truly receive Jesus for who He is. Patience and persistence are required in the mission field. Although it can be heartbreaking at times, we must remind ourselves that bearing fruit and the harvest is in God’s hands. We are only the feet that deliver the Good News of Jesus.
- 15 DAYS OF PRAYER FOR THE HINDU WORLD begins today. CLICK HERE to join us.
Saturday, Oct. 23
UPDATE (7 P.M.)
Walking to the church at Simikot. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We landed in Simikot on the one flight that made it in and only the second in a week. God made a way for us to arrive in time to worship with and teach at the church in Simikot.
Only about 30 believers were attending, and the Spirit had convicted me on our 12-seat prop-plane flight in through the mountains to challenge the church to be the church. In other words, GO and make disciples!
Elaine spoke about doing ministry in marriage as this church has many couples. When we first came here in 2012 (the last time Elaine was here) we found a five-year-old house church of 10-to-12 believers. We met for a Bible study with a group of brothers in Christ, who asked us to pray that women would accept Jesus so they would have someone to marry. We did so and in 2013 we celebrated the first of several Christian marriages in the church in Humla.
I then did my lesson on abiding – years in the making. I also told them about John’s warning to the church at Laodicea: “because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). I reiterated that we are commanded by Jesus to GO and make disciples. Anything less is displeasing to God.
While this church has not grown since I was last here in 2017, the house church in Thehe has grown to about 50 (from the two we first met in 2012) and the house church at Sada has about 60 believers (which was only a handful when we first visited in 2013).
Teaching about abiding based on John 15. Ironically, behind Gary is the church’s banner with John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
6:30 A.M. POST
We are scheduled (again) to fly this morning from Nepalgunj to Simikot and spend five days in the Humla district in Nepal’s northwest corner. We are planning to worship and teach in the church at Simikot when we arrive and then trek to the villages we have visited periodically since 2012. Our trek may be affected, however, by weather conditions. Rain across the country has led to mudslides where roads, bridges, and trails have been wiped out. There are no roads in Humla, only trails. But we have heard from Pastor Harka of the Simikot church that there has been some damage to trails there. Power also has been out in the district for more than one month. We may not be able to post Dispatches again until our scheduled return to Kathmandu on Thursday (Oct. 28). Pray on!
Friday, Oct. 22
Megh called his travel agent in Kathmandu for news on our flight to Simikot, scheduled for early this morning. “Not possible today,” Megh said. We are stuck in Nepalgunj along the border to India.
It is the sixth consecutive day flights to Simikot (and elsewhere) have been cancelled.
Nepal and northern India have been experiencing unusually heavy rain for October. Normally, the monsoon season has ended by now. But later and heavier rains have caused devastation throughout the Himalayan region with landslides and flooding resulting in hundreds of deaths.
“By the grace of God we got to Rolpa and back without being blocked (by mudslides),” Megh said, although mountain roads were barely passable in many places.
We are praying to GO to Simikot tomorrow (Saturday) to worship with and teach at the church in Humla in Nepal’s northwest corner. We are asking God, “Ke garne?” (“What to do?”).
Thursday, Oct. 21
Hands are laid on Yam (face in center of photo) as we pray to free him from demons in the church at Dharmashala on Wednesday. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
From a lightning-struck plane ride to freeing a man from demons and leading him to the Lord, it was an eventful four days in Rolpa. Here are some of the God moments:
On Monday, we were bouncing around in our Yeti Airlines plane at 16,500 feet in turbulent air because that’s what they do in Nepal. They fly in the rough air rather than trying to go below, above, or around. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and what sounded like a gun going off in the plane. I thought an engine had blown, but it was lightning. Elaine saw it out her window and felt it under her feet.
That was the sixth of 12 flights for us on this trip and it was a little too eventful for our liking. We started praying even harder than we normally do on a Nepal plane and we were thankful to God to be standing on the ground when we reached Nepalgunj from Kathmandu.
Then we rode 10 hours in a Jeep on curvy, bouncy, flooded, and sometimes washed-out mountain roads as it rained all day and night. All this to reach the village of Korchabang, where we built one of our first churches. “Too much rain in Rolpa,” Megh complained.
It could have been worse. The last time Megh came to this district in Nepal’s Mid-West, he endured a 26-hour bus ride here and 31 hours back to Kathmandu.
That’s what it takes to reach the places we work. It’s not easy. It challenges our will and desire to go on sometimes. It tests our perseverance. But through the strength of God we make it.
Elaine, with Megh translating, teaches about doing marriage and ministry together in the church at Korchabang on Tuesday. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
ON TUESDAY, we told about 60 members of the Korchabang and Ghapa churches that our teaching for them must be very important because everything has been an obstacle since we managed to leave the United States seven days ago. Megh then shared about the lightning strike during our plane ride (“all the Nepalis thought they were going to die”) and the epic Jeep ride to Korchabang. God must have wanted us here because we made it.
Then we spent about three hours teaching about doing ministry and marriage together and abiding in Christ. The believers were very attentive, as they have been since we first came here in 2011.
Fittingly, after our training Megh taught a married couple from Ghapa about baptism. Bharat and Ram Kumari Pun were then baptized in the pool above the Korchabang church.
Ram Pun emerges from the baptismal waters with Megh, right, and Pastor Dulsar, left. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
ON WEDNESDAY morning, we left Korchabang and stopped in Ghapa on the way to Dharmashala to see the land and pray for the church that will be built there as soon as the rains end. We felt the joy of the Ghapa church as about three dozen believers crowded into one room in the house of church leader Shyam Kumari, a dear sister in Christ.
We delivered $7,000 USD to Megh for the construction of Ghapa’s house of worship. An answer to their prayers.
Land being cleared for the church at Ghapa. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
The church at Dharmashala, which we dedicated in 2018 on our last visit to Rolpa, had more than 100 in attendance for energetic worship and our several hours of teaching. Elaine spoke about Jesus and women, and how He lifted women up and out of their shame and restored them to honor. I then did my lesson on abiding. I taught while wearing a traditional national dress – daura (top) suruwal (bottom) – and vest that the Dharmashala church honored me with upon arrival.
Another round of baptisms followed worship and teaching. This time eight were baptized, including 18-year-old Mina BK who Megh wanted to make sure was ready. He told her she was young and would face many challenges. “I have committed my life to the Lord,” she answered, and so she was baptized.
A child of God, Mina BK, above, emerges from a public declaration as a Christ follower. Below, Yam sitting with Megh after being saved. (Photos by Gary and Elaine Fallesen)
Monsoonal rains drove the people back indoors after feasting on dal bhat (rice and lentil soup). Climbing For Christ provided funds for the people at Pokhara, Korchabang, and Dharmashala to buy food for these gatherings.
Megh invited me to dedicate a baby in the church and that turned into us leading a demon-possessed man to Jesus in an intense prayer session. As the prayers grew louder and the man, named Yam, convulsed on the floor, the storm outside the church turned to rage. A spiritual battle was taking place.
We thank God that the Spirit moved Yam to come to the church when his brother-in-law and wife told him, “People are coming to the church; you should go, repent for your sins, and make your life right.”
Yam had tried to kill his wife and children with a knife and when they fled the house he turned the knife on himself a few months ago. He showed us the fresh scar across the top of his stomach. But he was a different man after his visit to the church at Dharmashala. He was redeemed.
Yam was one of four who surrendered their lives to Jesus during this time.
Brothers and sisters in Christ from the church at Dharmashala saying goodbye to us. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
ON THURSDAY (today), under the first clear skies we’ve seen this week, there was a teary farewell as some women from the church at Dharmashala hugged and kissed us goodbye. They asked when we would be back and I shared a salutation I learned when tracing my family roots in Denmark. As the Danish believers say, “See you soon. If not, see you in heaven.”
We rejoice that we will see these hundreds of believers in heaven when not many years ago all were destined for hell.
After leaving Dharmashala we made the hellacious 7 ½-hour drive back to Nepalgunj, where we are overnighting before a scheduled flight to Simikot on Friday. No flights have gone into or out of Simikot for five days because of bad weather. We are planning a six-day visit to the Humla district, Lord willing.
Sunday, Oct. 17
We were back this morning at the airport, which is where we seem to be living on this trip. In all, we have 12 scheduled flights. Today was No. 5 – going from Pokhara back to Kathmandu, where we repacked and prepared for the next legs of the trip.
We fly again Monday morning to Nepalgunj in western Nepal along the India border. From there it’s a long (“more than six hours,” Megh likes to say) Jeep ride into the mountains of Rolpa, where we will spend Tuesday and Wednesday visiting the churches at Korchabang, Dharmashala, and Ghapa. We will be encouraging these growing churches and teaching about abiding.
We will likely next post Dispatches on Thursday when we return to Nepalgunj for yet another flight, this one to Humla in the northwest corner of Nepal. Pray on!
Saturday, Oct. 16
Pokhara church members reading God’s Word aloud together. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)
The church read out loud in unison John 15:1-17 after I finished my teaching on abiding. It was a sweet sound that concluded a long worship and training at the new church in Pokhara.
Elaine shared about doing ministry in and through marriage in her lesson centered on Aquila and Priscilla, a husband-wife team found in Acts 18 and mentioned again by the apostle Paul in three of his letters. Aquila and Priscilla are never mentioned separately in the Bible. “In marriage and ministry, they operated as one,” Elaine said, speaking to many couples (most of whom have children) in this young church.
I shared the verse that guides my life and the life of Climbing For Christ: John 15:5. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
Abiding has been my ongoing study, focus, and attempted discipline since I attended an international gathering of like-hearted ministries in Thailand in 2017 under the banner “Abide Bear Fruit.” As I told the church at Pokhara, “One of Jesus’ final lessons to His disciples was ‘in order to make many disciples, you must spend much time with Me.’ When I read those words, I knew my job was to teach others about abiding.”
That’s what we started doing in June with our Kilimanjaro Chapter of guides and porters in Tanzania on Mission: Kilimanjaro 2021. It was on my heart to share with this church and training center as we seek to equip them to reach the lost in the surrounding mountains of the Annapurna Range. It will be repeated in the next week as we GO to Rolpa and Humla.
I talked about reading His Word daily, praying unceasingly, and being quiet and listening for God’s direction in our lives. We then dissected John 15 verse by verse. I concluded this lesson on abiding by asking the church to stand and read together.
After we finished, Pastor Prem pointed out the windows of this house of worship at the rice fields all around that are ready for harvest. Like those rice fields, there is a mission field here that is ripe. This church has been called to abide in Jesus and bear much fruit – producing disciples who in turn will make disciples.
Friday, Oct. 15
Back to the airport after only 14 hours on the ground for another flight, this time a short domestic hop from Kathmandu to Pokhara for the dedication of our latest church build here. The Hindu Dashain Festival is in full swing so city streets are deserted and shops shuttered as people return to home villages to spend time with family. Today is the day when families receive a blessing and tika (a mixture of rice, yogurt, and red-colored powder placed on the forehead) by elders. Fitting that this elder was honored to bless our Christian family in the church at Pokhara (minus the tikas, of course).
We did a ribbon cutting, ceremonial opening of the door, prayed, worshiped the one true God, preached a message called “Dedicated to the Lord,” prayed some more, and ate a Nepali meal in fellowship. About 70 people call this church home on the outskirts of Pokhara with the mountains in the Annapurna Range on the horizon.
Pokhara church, above, during fellowship after worship. Below, Gary and Megh cut the ribbon during the church’s dedication. (Photos by Gary and Elaine Fallesen)
We urged the church to dedicate themselves and this house of worship to the Lord. We encouraged them to let their roots grow down into Jesus, and let their lives be built on Him (Colossians 2:6-7). We told them this is one of 15 churches in five countries Climbing For Christ has been honored to help build and we do so trusting in Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18: “…and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
“If this church is built on the Rock that is Christ, nothing can overtake it,” I said with Megh translating. “Nothing can defeat it. This church will be blessed to be a blessing.”
With that blessing comes responsibility. We shared the Parable of the Talents (Luke 19:11-17) and talked about the call placed on this church: to GO and make disciples in the villages in nine districts accessed through Pokhara. People in this church are from many of those districts. The church (as all churches should be) is a training center to equip disciples to make disciples.
“Revival – spiritual renewal – begins with a vision,” we told them. “In the Old Testament, Nehemiah had a vision, and the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt. He challenged the people with a dream God had given him for work God wanted done. It was divinely inspired.
“I’m challenging you now with a vision God has given me to spread the Gospel all around the Annapurna Region. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you to touch hearts and change eternities for countless souls.”
Thursday, Oct. 14
We’ve found the more “technology” countries add to their customs arsenal the longer it takes to actually get into the country. We walked off our flight to Doha and immediately onto our flight to Kathmandu this morning with no layover or even a moment to dream about a cup of coffee. Then when our very full flight reached Kathmandu, the lines formed and stayed that way for nearly 2 ½ hours. First, our COVID-19 PCR tests and vaccine cards were checked. Then the visa dance began at kiosks that make our son’s original Nintendo game look cutting edge. Because I had received a visa on April 1 before COVID-19 postponed that trip, the customs official could not understand why I was asking for another one. I tried to explain that it says it is only valid for six months, meaning it expired two weeks ago. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and gave me a new visa, allowing us to pick up all of our luggage (which made it!) and re-enter Nepal for the first time in nearly two years.
Wednesday, Oct. 13
We are underway, but not without some last-minute hiccups. Our negative COVID-19 antigen tests were not valid for Nepal. We learned this at the Qatar check-in counter at JFK’s Terminal 8. We were told that PCR tests were available in Terminal 1, results would take an hour, and although we’d be cutting it close, we might be able to make it there and back and get the test results in time to board our flight to Doha. We raced back to the Air Train, around to Terminal 1, shot up prayer flares along the way, logged in for a $200 test, got swabbed, and then went back to Terminal 8. Results were emailed to our phones less than one hour later as we walked to the gate, where our very helpful ticket agent was waiting to give us our boarding passes. Praise the Lord! We were allowed to proceed to Doha, a 12 ½-hour flight from JFK, where – Lord willing – we will connect for our Thursday flight to Kathmandu.
International travel has always been hectic, but COVID travel has taken the stress level up a few notches. Between paperwork, testing, masking at all times, and the constant uncertainty of everything, there is only one way to GO: trusting in the Lord!
“…and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” – Matthew 16:18 (NLT)
Map key: 1. Everest Base Camp; 2. Dapcha; 3. Kathmandu; 4. Langtang; 5. Rolpa; 6. Humla; 7. Makalu; 8. Pokhara; 9. Manaslu.
Climbing For Christ’s mission is to build the Church and build churches in places where others cannot or will not GO.
On Mission: Nepal 2011, we broke ground in Dapcha east of Kathmandu for our first church-build in this Hindu (83 percent) and Buddhist (eight percent) nation of 29.5 million people. The following year, God and our guide Megh Gurung took us to Korchabang in the Mid-West district of Rolpa to see a body of believers meeting on a hilltop – when the weather permitted. They asked for help with a house of worship. God sent us.
In 2013, we helped ministry partner Tej Rokka build the main Kathmandu church for his SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) ministry.
The 2015 earthquake devastated many, including churches we helped rebuild in two villages in the Dhading district northwest of Kathmandu.
We dedicated the church at Simikot in Nepal’s northwest corner in 2016 on our fifth trip to the Humla district. That’s where we’d gone to trek in 2012 not knowing if there were any Christians. A divine appointment led us to a house church where seven brothers in Christ were holding a Bible study. We were invited in. They asked us to pray that women would accept Jesus so they would have someone to marry. Our prayers were answered, and the church outgrew the house and needed a house of worship.
Back in Rolpa, the Korchabang church planted a church in nearby Dharmashala. We built another house of worship in Rolpa for them in 2018, while on the same trip in yet another part of the country we visited a church of about 40 members meeting in a rented room in Pokhara. Pokhara is considered the tourism capital of Nepal. It is the gateway to the Annapurna ranges of the Himalayas. It’s also a city where people from villages in nine districts come to work. The vision of introducing people to Christ, teaching them to be disciples who make disciples, and sending them back to their home villages compelled the building of a church and training center in 2020.
And back in Rolpa, yet another church plant has outgrown houses and needs a church building. It is our ninth build in Nepal and 15th overall.
We are conducting our 18th Evangelic Expedition to Nepal since a team trekked to Everest Base Camp in 2008 and met the man (Megh) who would become Climbing For Christ’s Kingdom worker. We have sent 41 C4C members from four countries (the U.S., Canada, Hungary, and Nepal).
This is our first trip since November 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be dedicating the church at Pokhara, and then revisiting churches in Rolpa, Humla, and Kathmandu to teach and preach, equip, and encourage. It will be our sixth time in remote Rolpa and the seventh in distant Humla, where we’ll also trek to villages where we first took Jesus on past expeditions. We have been blessed to see hundreds come to Christ.
“This trip will be wonderful,” brother Megh said. “People will get encouragement and feel the presence of God.”