Dispatches: Nepal 2021
Mission: Nepal 2021
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
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.”