Dispatches: Nepal 2023
Mission: Nepal 2023
By Gary Fallesen, Climbing For Christ
Saturday, June 3
Our team as we prepare to GO again (left to right) Matthew, Brandy, Megh, Grace, Elaine, and Gary.
Growth is good. The church is growing in Nepal. We praise God for this.
On Friday, Pastor Tej was talking about how the government hasn’t released the census figures for religion. He believes it is because the percentage of Christians has increased – and they do not want to outrage the Hindu majority. Hindu hardliners want to see a return to the Hindu kingdom with a king. But Jesus is and will be King here. Tej said when we started working in Nepal there were many, many areas of unreached people. Now there is a church in every district. There are still people to be reached, but God is making that happen. Praise HIM!
Megh picked us up at our hotel and delivered us to the airport for our flight to India. Tshring, our Kangchenjunga porter, met us there to say goodbye. We continue to pray for his heart.
An afternoon flight to Delhi marks the end of Mission: Nepal 2023. But not an end to the ministry here. Next stop: Mission: Northern India 2023.
Friday, June 2
Construction on the church at Sandan continued on Thursday with Megh stopping the workers to pray, below. (Photos by Megh Gurung)
Megh visited the team at our Kathmandu hotel on this, the penultimate day of our mission here. He was reporting on yesterday’s trip to Sandan in the Dhading district, where he visited an ongoing church build.
The church, with 87 believers, has room to grow. More than 300 can fit inside this house of worship.
Megh stopped workers and gathered them for a time of worship and prayer. He said he encouraged them with the words from Zechariah 4:6 (“It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies”) and then instructed: “You have to learn. You have to grow in faith.”
The people told him, “We are so glad God gave us this place.”
Megh estimates another $7,000 USD will be needed to complete construction. Climbing For Christ will support this effort.
After sharing about Dhading, Megh and I discussed planning and praying for Mission: Nepal 2024. We are looking at returning to the Kangchenjunga area and covering new ground so more may hear the Good News. Join us in praying that we fulfill His will for the work in eastern Nepal.
Pastor Tej also came to visit us and discuss the challenges of the Children’s Home (the government opposes the fact that they are Christian while rating the orphanage No. 1 in the municipality) and ministry work elsewhere in SARA church. Tej noted that we have served together for so long that we do not feel like ministry partners or co-workers, but like family, which of course we are. We prayed for our brother before saying goodbyes for now.
The tedious task of packing was next on the to-do list as we prepare to wrap up this 20th Evangelic Expedition to Nepal and head across the border into northern India tomorrow. Stay tuned for this upcoming survey trip – and pray on!
Thursday, June 1
The Climbing For Christ sponsored SARA Children’s Home. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
The kids at Pastor Tej’s SARA Children’s Home got to play hooky again as our entire team visited today. Elaine and Grace spent last week with the children, but it was Brandy, Matthew, and my first time seeing them on this trip. We enjoyed a time of worship, shared some words of encouragement and a family update, Elaine taught a lesson about putting your life in the right order (insider tip: put God first and everything else falls into place), and then Dr. Matthew did medical checkups on the kids.
For the most part, the children are in good health. There were a few special exceptions that Matthew gave extra attention to, such as 9-year-old Manisha (some seizures from a head injury before she came to SARA Home), 12-year-old Gaurab (hole in the eardrum), and 15-year-old Nisha (severe skin condition). After treating 10-year-old Bijaya, who is suffering from migraines, Matthew and Brandy decided to sponsor him. That leaves only two unsponsored children, 11-year-old Nimesh and 6-year-old Subash, among the 34 in Tej’s care. Subash was brought to the Children’s Home by the government right before our team arrived. Sponsorship is only $50 per month.
Brandy and Matthew provided spiritual as well as physical care for the children while doing medical checkups. Above, they pray over Manisha. Below, Matthew cleans up Gaurab’s ear.
Climbing For Christ has sponsored the SARA Children’s Home since 2012, one year after our Project 1:27 (caring for orphans in their distress, based on James 1:27) began in Malawi. We have partnered with Pastor Tej since helping him build a church in Dapcha in 2011. That was our first church build in Nepal.
We had an opportunity to pray for the start of a new fellowship right at the Children’s Home. It will begin in the next few weeks and the hope is neighbors in the community around the Home will come to church and become Christ followers.
Our time of prayer occurred after dances were performed by the children, gifts were exchanged, lunch was eaten, photos were taken, and many hugs were shared. There is always a lot of love at the SARA Children’s Home – because the love of Christ is put on display there by a brother (Tej) who once was an orphan and now cares for orphans.
Elaine, Grace, and Tej teach the children about putting God first in your life.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” – John 14:18 (NIV)
Wednesday, May 31
It was a day to get caught up on the rest of the Climbing For Christ world. An E-Newsletter chock full of developments was sent out to members and supporters. We praise God for all He is doing in the places He has us serving, including Nepal and India.
Megh visited us at the hotel in Kathmandu to discuss our remaining days here. While our team spends Thursday at the SARA Children’s Home, he is going to Dhading west of Kathmandu to visit a church build and report back to me on Friday on the needs and cost to finish construction.
House of worship in Sandan village, Dhading district. (Photo by Megh Gurung)
Megh has been donating his monthly salary in recent months to build two new churches in two very different places – in the mountains of the Dhading district and near the India border. Two completely different people groups, but with the same results. Souls rescued.
“I shared the Good News with victims during the earthquake time,” Megh testified about the church at Sandan. “During that time (2015) just a lady converted. When I go to the village (which is near to his home village), I tell them about the Lord. They slowly came to the Lord. I planted a fellowship in the village by the grace of God. They were worshiping in a very tiny yard of a house. There was no space to stay there. They were praying to build a house (of worship). From last year the numbers of people are growing.”
Now the church numbers 87 in Sandan. This house of worship will be completed soon with God’s help through C4C. Near the border of India, there are 75-100 believers now in two villages where Megh has been conducting outreach. He has also funded the building of a temporary house of worship there.
These are in addition to the churches God has used Climbing For Christ to build through the years in the Central, West, and Mid-West regions of the country.
“God showed me (how to) expand the kingdom of God,” Megh said. “Matthew 28:18-20. I am fulfilling God’s commission.” Amen!
Tuesday, May 30
Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain at 28,169 feet/8,586 meters rises above the clouds as we fly from eastern Nepal back to Kathmandu. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Megh surprised us with a night at a luxury hotel in Birtamod, a hot, dirty place in the northeast corner of Nepal. It was the nicest hotel I’d seen in a year’s worth of nights sleeping in this country. When I told my “little brother” he was spoiling us, he said it was to thank me. “You are the ambassador of God for the world,” Megh said, perhaps overstating a bit. Needless to say, our North American trekking trio – Brandy, Matthew, and I – appreciated the generous gesture.
We three talked about the Kangchenjunga trek before it was time to pack up and head back to Kathmandu. We all felt God moving on this, C4C’s second trek into a remote, dark place in eastern Nepal. Our team flew at midday for about 50 minutes and were reunited with Elaine and Grace after nine days apart. We celebrated with pizza and coffee at two of our favorite places in Thamel.
We said our goodbyes to Tshring, our guide, porter, and friend from the Kangchenjunga area. He flew with us to Kathmandu for a job. We continue to pray that his heart would be open to Jesus. He prayed with us before meals and at the start and end of our days together, even adding his own “amen” when we closed.
I was in touch with another friend from the trek, the owner of the teahouse we stay at in Ghunsa. We swapped photos: I sent him a selfie I’d taken of him and me and he sent me a photo of him holding a snow leopard that had been found dead recently near his village.
Our trekking team with our hosts in Ghunsa before we started our descent from that remote village on Saturday (May 27). Left to right, porter Assok, Megh, Brandy, Samuel, host Tshring, Gary, Pema, Matthew, and porter Tshring.
There are many lost souls to be praying for and future planning to pray into in the days ahead. Our team is in Nepal until Saturday when we hop over to northern India for that survey trip. Our work here is not finished – not for this visit nor for those missions to come.
Monday, May 29
The rising sun shines on the Makalu range as seen from the village of Taplejung this morning. Makalu, the world’s fifth-highest mountain, is left of center in the photo. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We find ourselves waiting today for the promise of the Father. Our loving, faithful God tells us to abide in Him and we will bear much fruit. That is why we came again to trek Kangchenjunga.
God is here in eastern Nepal preparing hearts and getting a harvest ready. We did some sowing and watering, but it is God who will cause it to grow. So we wait.
We left the mountains today and made the long drive back down to the lowlands. Along the way we saw Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, peeking above the clouds. As we went lower the temperature went higher – starting at 70 degrees F (21C) this morning and ending at 100F (38C) this afternoon.
Along the way, we stopped for the requisite Nepali lunch. Our Nepali brothers, sisters, and friends don’t miss meals.
Dal bhat power 24 hour: Our Nepali teammates getting seconds at lunch today. We cannot figure out how relatively small Nepalese can pack away so much food meal after meal. As Dr. Matthew observed, this is one developing country that does not have a malnutrition problem. Dal bhat is the staple consisting of rice and a lentil soup served with vegetables and spicy pickles.
Waiting is a thing when you are doing ministry in Nepal. You must be patient – during arduous Jeep or bus rides, while standing by for weather-delayed flights, even as you climb up and down through the Himalayas seeking those who are lost. But not only must you wait; you must wait in prayer. We are praying for those reached this past week to escape the darkness of Buddhism and become disciples of Jesus. Join us in praying for the harvest to be reaped.
Sunday, May 28
Elaine reports from Kathmandu:
Life in Nepal is hard. At today’s women’s seminar at SARA Church we pushed the pause button on life for a few hours in order to refresh and recharge these women in the Word, and encourage and strengthen them before turning life back on.
We began in worship, praising God in song and lifting up countless prayers of supplication. I then shared a lesson on the significance of tears in the Bible, and the story in Luke 7 of Jesus and the woman against a wall. Inspired by Psalm 56:8, Jewish women in ancient Israel collected their tears of sorrow, grief and pain in small tear jars. They poured them out before the Lord during times of worship as they poured out their hearts to God.
Fast forward to the Luke account of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman, who washed His feet with her tears and poured rare perfume on them. She had broken many taboos of the day, but Jesus defended her for her sincere repentance. He forgave her, pulled her up out of her grief and shame, and sent her on her way in peace.
We gave each woman a small tear jar of their own to remind them of the psalmist’s observation that the Lord collects all our tears in His bottle, and records each one in His book.
Kamala, one of the attendees from SARA Children’s Home, models the tear jar she made into a necklace. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)
Grace shared her testimony of her faith and how God is working in her life as she attends Bible college. We discussed the benefits of keeping a prayer journal and then let everyone choose one for themselves.
The ladies chose from prayer journals featuring eight different Scripture verses.
I encouraged them to write as their name in the journal one of the many names God calls us in His Word and which define who we really are. Names like Chosen, Greatly Loved, Masterpiece, His Child, Friend, Temple where the Holy Spirit lives, Forgiven, Free.
We ended with a demonstration on how to put your life in the right order, using a glass jar, ping pong balls, marbles, and water. When we fill our Jars/lives with God first, then everything else will fit in around Him.
Grace and I felt extremely blessed by these sisters in faith. The trekking team felt blessed when today’s jarring Jeep ride was over:
Assok, far right, left our team today in his home village. The team (left to right) Gary, Brandy, Samuel, Tshring, Matthew, and Megh. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Assok, a 28-year-old husband and father of one from Sekathum, served as our second porter. He joined our friend Tshring, who was with us last year and this.
Last night the team gave Assok an audio Bible for which he was very excited, and this morning Megh “challenged” him to accept Jesus. “I will see” was his response. So we pray for Assok – along with so many others in the Kangchenjunga area.
Descending along the Ghunsa Khola river.
Our team descended the last seven miles of our trek this morning before leaving Assok across the river from his home and boarding a Jeep jammed with 18 people for a five-hour ride. We crawled in four-wheel-drive (half the time in 4WD low) down the rocky road that connects the lower villages. Matthew, Samuel, and Tshring rode on top, while Brandy, Megh, and I crammed inside with a dozen others.
The trekking is finished: more than 37 miles with about 32,000 feet of elevation change in five days. After today’s drive, we have a long drive tomorrow and a flight back to Kathmandu Tuesday. But the prayer work continues.
Saturday, May 27
Looking down on the village of Amjilosa. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
It was a surreal moment at the end of a long day on the trail. As Samuel and I entered Amjilosa, I heard the voice of the late Charles Stanley.
One of the audio Bibles handed out on our way up the valley was playing. Probably in English because the woman of that house speaks English and no one else would know what she is listening to. It was a wink from God.
We left Ghunsa this morning – in rain and cold – after giving the head monk another audio Bible. He said he listens to it (there are also Nepali folk songs on it) as he hikes around the upper villages along the trail to Kangchenjunga base camp, and people ask him for it. We gave him one to share in the off chance that a gift from a Buddhist might lead to Christian salvation. God does work in mysterious ways.
We descended more than 5,000 vertical feet in 10 miles before climbing steeply (about 1,800 feet) for one mile. We reached Amjilosa after hiking nearly 13 miles in 6 ¼ hours. Praise God for giving me the air to breathe in my recovering lungs.
We continue to sow seeds where the Spirit leads. An audio Bible here, medicine there. We ask God to soften soil and prepare hearts. There will be a harvest here one day.
I love this line I read this morning in Steve Smith’s Spirit Walk: “His special presence leads his disciples to the edge of darkness to proclaim the Light of the world.” Amen!
Meanwhile, Saturday marks the weekend in Nepal and the Sabbath for Nepali Christians, as Elaine reports:
Sending them out: SARA Church prays for two of its members who will head out to the harvest field this coming week. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
Grace and I worshipped at Pastor Tej’s SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) Church this morning along with 80 brothers and sisters. Today’s message focused on Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13 of the sower and the four types of soil where the farmer scattered his seeds. The scripture and message “connected the dots of evangelism” as five members of the congregation prepare to be sent into the mission field of Solukhumbu District in eastern Nepal.
This is one of two mission trips SARA Church is undertaking this year. The first team will be gone five days and will stay in the home of a person of peace. Pastor Tej asked for prayer that the entire household may become believers.
SARA Church has planted a second church in Thali, near where SARA Home is located outside of Kathmandu and where many of our Project 1:27 kiddos worshipped today. A third church plant is now being planned.
Friday, May 26
Reaching the village of Ghunsa, the end of the rugged trail for us at 11,204 feet/3,415 meters. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
I was studying about walking in the Spirit this morning and the late Steve Smith wrote, “Are you so filled with the Spirit that you could be recognized as ‘under His influence’?” We like to pose the question: Does the atmosphere of a room change when you enter?!
We feel like the atmosphere at the Dzonga Family House, a guesthouse in the remote village of Ghunsa, changed with our arrival. The head of the family, who also is the village’s head monk, and his adult son were overjoyed to see us again. We stayed with them, gave them audio Bibles, and prayed for them last year at this time.
The father, Pema Chhophel Lama, immediately got out his audio Bible when we arrived. And conversation with his son, Tashi, turned spiritual. He told us about the local deities and how they believe everything is a god – the tree, the rock, etc. When Matthew talked about God and Jesus, Tashi said all religions are the same. Karma is the same as Jesus saying you will sow what you reap, he claimed.
Megh pointed to this conversation – and others we have had here – and complained about these hard-hearted Sherpa people. Only the Holy Spirit can change that.
We were studying John 5 this morning before hiking and Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own initiative. … I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me” (verse 30). We also seek to do the will of the Father who sent us. We know we can do nothing on our own. But we also know we can do anything through Christ, Who gives us strength (see Philippians 4:13).
That includes hiking more than 20 miles and covering tens of thousands of feet in elevation change in three days to reach Ghunsa. We hiked seven miles from Gyabla (at 8,940 feet/2,725 meters) to Ghunsa (11,204 feet/3,425 meters). Ghunsa is the end of the trail for us.
Megh near the start of today’s hike.
I praise God for reaching our destination when three days ago I did not know if I would be physically able. Our team has faced many physical challenges (my lungs, Megh recovering from an ankle fracture, Brandy dealing with stomach issues, and Matthew rolling an ankle in the dark one night). But also the spiritual.
Megh had a vision Thursday night as he was falling asleep. He was being attacked by a large woman who was an evil spirit.
It is hard soil here. Audio Bibles left with the family in Gyabla last year were nowhere to be found. Megh said, “Maybe they used the flashlight (on the audio Bible) then threw it away when it stopped working.” They probably never heard the real Light being offered. But we are not dissuaded. If God sends, we GO. Again and again – with the love of Jesus.
Elaine and Grace were hosted by Pastor Tej for an educational tour of Nepal’s history at the Narayanhiti Palace Museum in the heart of Kathmandu. The existing palace complex was built in 1963 after the old one was demolished. The palace is divided into three parts: the guest wing, the state wing and the private wing. It has 52 rooms that are named after districts of Nepal. The complex became a public museum in 2008 following a 2006 revolution which ended a long reign of monarchs.
Narayanhiti Palace Museum. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
The walking tour was similar to touring the White House in Washington, D.C., but with more than a touch of Miss Havisham’s decomposing dwelling (for any Great Expectations fans reading this). Cameras were not allowed inside. Huge paintings of the many kings who ruled Nepal hung in rooms and hallways. We saw bullet holes in the outside walls where on June 1, 2001, King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and several members of the royal family were assassinated by Crown Prince Dipendra.
Thursday, May 25
Samuel rests at the top of a long climb before entering Gyabla in the rain. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We read about the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 this morning before hitting trails made muddy and slick by overnight rain. The Samaritan woman was a breakthrough person; someone Jesus used to bring many to him. We pray for breakthrough people in our evangelistic travels.
Maybe the tea house owner in Amjilosa who Matthew gave medicine and who opened her kitchen to our crew (Tshring and Samuel cooked for us). Or the young family who run the tea house in Gyabla, where we are staying again after leaving audio Bibles last year.
We pray to find hearts God has prepared. It’s all about Him, not about us. He doesn’t need us to fulfill His will, but invites us to participate in His great GO-mission. We are humbled and honored to take part.
After praying this morning, we climbed out of Amjilosa over Pangling hill and up into the low hanging clouds. We climbed for about one mile and then descended the next 1.3 miles back down to the river. During a water break at 3.3 miles, it started raining. Welcome back to Kangchenjunga.
The last third of the day’s hike was up to Gyabla. Gyabla is only 745 feet higher than Amjilosa (at 8,940 feet/2,725 meters), but there are thousands of feet of ascent and descent between the villages. That’s life in Himalayan Nepal. Rough trails, rough lives. Even the weather conspires with the darkness to avoid the Light.
Meanwhile, back in Kathmandu Elaine reports the SARA Home gang enjoyed a citywide day off from school:
Today was a newly-declared Hindu holiday for all of Kathmandu proper, and all of SARA Home headed for the Kathmandu Fun Park, courtesy of Climbing For Christ. This wasn’t my first rodeo. I had been here several years ago with mission teammate Leanne Bohn and many of the same children. Shristi G. and I laughed about her, Nisha and Manju being the inseparable three amigos back then. They remain close friends today.
We watched the littlest ones run gleefully from one ride to the next, in awe of entertainment like they’d never seen before. Grace joined the older kids on many of the bigger rides, including a Ferris wheel and roller coaster. After a snack we were able to squeeze in a few more rides before the ominous clouds finally opened up and rain began to pour. That ended the visit to the park, but not the joy in everyone’s hearts.
Saru was fascinated with the merry-go-round. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)
Laxman sliding, above, and Roshika twirling, below.
And we nabbed a group photo before the rain came:
Wednesday, May 24
Prayer flags and dark skies over the remote village of Amjilosa. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
In my weakness, God provided HIS strength. I want to start today’s Dispatch giving God the glory – as we should all days and in all things.
I had the nasty (and violent) stomach virus that’s been going around right before we left last week for Nepal. Then the horrid air pollution in Kathmandu triggered the asthma-related respiratory problems I often deal with on travel in the majority world. This set up Day 3 of our Kangchenjunga trek, which was the first day of hiking: 7.25 miles from Sekathum (at 5,400 feet/1,650 meters) to Amjilosa (8,195 feet/2,498 meters). Last year, we determined this was the most difficult stretch of the 60-plus mile trek.
And me with lungs rattling like dry bones.
I prayed John 15:7 this morning, trusting that if I am abiding in Jesus, the Father will give what I ask for because it will glorify Him. I asked Him to get me to the next village. That was His will. Glory to Him.
Our team makes one of the many bridge crossings on this trek.
Our team arrived safely and in good time, thanking and praising God on a sunny, warm day. For Megh, this was his first day of serious trekking since he fractured his ankle last November and ended up in a cast and on crutches. He has been healed and is back in trekking mode. That means, back to delivering the Good News where others cannot or will not. We were hoping to meet up with Lakpa, a Buddhist background believer who did the sinner’s prayer with Megh last year in Amjilosa. He was out looking for a yak when we arrived but was expected back tonight.
Megh, Brandy and Matthew went to two houses in this tiny, remote village on a steep mountainside. They took audio Bibles and medicine to an old woman, and her adult son and daughter-in-law. The daughter-in-law was a baptized believer from Dhading, but she has given up on her faith because of the darkness here. She has prayed for a Christian group to come here – and here we are. Megh, Brandy and Matthew prayed for them.
While we’ve been heading uphill in the Buddhist stronghold of eastern Nepal, Elaine and Grace spent an afternoon with Pastor Tej’s brother, Karna, and his daughter Praktikchya. Elaine reports:
It wasn’t possible to take the orphans out of public school three days in a row, so Grace and I enjoyed a day of rest, although riding through Kathmandu is never restful. We were picked up by Karna and Praktikchya, who we’ve watched grow from little girl to 15-year-old young lady. She speaks English extremely well and wants to go into ministry, following in the footsteps of her parents, Karna and Hanna.
Grace and Praktikchya on the ride back down from the summit of Chandragiri Hills. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)
The two took us to the Chandragiri Cable Car, a gondola lift located on the city’s outskirts. Opened in 2016, the cable car ascends to an elevation of 8,268 feet (2,520 meters). The 10-minute ride to the top offered us an expansive view of the Kathmandu Valley. On a clear day (rarely possible in this polluted city) a stunning panorama of the Himalayas can be seen. Sadly, the mountains were being shy today, and we got only one brief peek when one summit popped out of the clouds for a moment.
Bhaleshwor Mahadev, a Hindu temple, is situated at the top of this foothill called Chandragiri Hills. We walked around the top, which has a bit of an amusement park feeling. We admired the still-beautiful view, watched a few brave souls ride the highest zipline in Kathmandu, and inspected monuments and statues commemorating historical figures such as King Prithivi Narayan Shah, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Nepal, credited with starting the unification of Nepal.
King Prithivi Narayan Shah points his finger to the sky in victory.
Tuesday, May 23
Ramita, the oldest of six orphan siblings, holds Bikesh, the youngest. (Photos by Elaine Fallesen)
Elaine reports from Kathmandu:
Ramita Majhi didn’t want to come to SARA Home last year when Pastor Tej rescued her and her four sisters and baby brother from life with no mother and an alcoholic, unemployed father. The mother had died six months prior, and their dad wasn’t caring for them.
Ramita, who was 15 at the time, thought she’d stay just a few months until her younger siblings settled in and then she’d leave. But the SARA Home team consulted first with the Lord, and then counseled her that it would be good for her to stay a year to give herself more time to make the best choice.
And none of the six children knew anything about Jesus. “We did not force them to believe anything,” says Tej. “But after some time Ramita got involved with the other orphans and came to church.” Now, almost one year later, “she’s in 10th grade and has changed a lot. We hope she can complete 12th grade (here with us).”
Hanna Rokka, Tej’s sister-in-law who helps oversee daily operations, says at first Ramita wanted nothing to do with Jesus. But He has softened her heart and now she tells her siblings each night to pray before they go to bed and to read their Bibles.
God blessed this family rescue with another miracle – in less than a year, He provided Project 1:27 sponsors for all six children! Currently there are three other orphans needing sponsors. One of them is Nimesh, pictured below, working on today’s project to draw one of the six verses from Psalm 23:
The creative juices flowed today through dance, drawing, singing and, dare we say, even cornhole?
Pastor Tej (right) jumps in the air for joy after scoring two consecutive aces in the hole…or however you describe it in cornhole terminology. His son Milan (left) rejoices for his dad.
Meanwhile, on the Kangchenjunga trek:
Another day, another drive: our team (left to right) – Tshring, Matthew, Samuel with his head turned, Brandy, another passenger, Megh and Gary – load into a local Jeep. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We crawled in four-wheel drive along a dirt and rock road from Taplejung to Sekathum. Last year, our team walked this road the first two days of the trek. Today, we covered that 20-mile stretch in about five hours rather than two days. We are back in the heart of the Kangchenjunga area looking for people whose hearts have been made ready by the Spirit.
Monday, May 22
Trekkers (left to right) Samuel, Matthew, Brandy, Megh, and Gary. Below, boarding our Buddha Air flight with two Buddhist monks. (Photos by Elaine and Gary Fallesen)
Our trekking team flew 45 minutes from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur with the Himalayan mountains standing above the clouds in air space otherwise reserved for planes. Then we drove for 10 hours, climbing twisting-turning roads up and down seven mountains, usually in second gear. Average speed: 12-15 mph.
We once had a T-shirt that explained the physical aspects of what we do: fly-drive-hike. We did two of three today. We have another day of driving up Jeep roads to get to the village where we will begin our trek. Then it will be hike-hike-hike-hike-hike-hike. Looking forward to stretching our legs.
Meanwhile back in Kathmandu, Elaine and Grace had a full day with the children from the Climbing For Christ orphanage. I’ll let her tell the rest:
“Growing” surfaced as a theme for the day as we reunited with 34 children at SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) Home. And how the growth spurts have multiplied in a year!
After mostly passing the test to match 34 names to faces, and a brief worship time with the SARA Home band, we took a moment to share how we’ve grown in our lives since we last saw everyone. We then handed out precious letters from Project 1:27 sponsors to their Nepal kids. I shared a few words about each sponsor and the unique growth and changes in their lives in the past year, which were quite significant. The children then spent a good hour devouring the letters and writing their replies.
Above: Yubraj, who was scooped up by his sponsor Dave Stoessel when he and Yubraj met during Mission: Nepal 2022, excitedly pens his reply. Below: Grace and Nisha play a version of Rock, Paper, Scissors that her Christian Family Fellowship youth group taught last year.
We then tucked kidney beans and cotton balls into clear plastic cups and watered them. We talked about planting seeds of faith and how they grow in our hearts as the Holy Spirit waters us. We hope to see sprouts before our time comes to say goodbye. Grace read the story in Matthew of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and I explained how Jesus can take what little we have and make a lot – the miracle of exponential growth.
My personal favorite part of the day was practicing a new song I’d sent on ahead for them to listen to before our arrival. The kids didn’t let me down – many of them know most of it already. More on this to come!
Sunday, May 21
View of Kathmandu from our hotel. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
Our team went walking in the Spirit today – without even leaving our Kathmandu hotel. We focused on having our hearts prepared for the work God will be doing in the weeks ahead so we may be blessed to be used by Him. As the late Steve Smith wrote in his quintessential book Spirit Walk: “His [God’s] work has never depended upon you but only upon Him. He loves to use you when you surrender to His Spirit within you.”
This is a daily, hourly requirement. It’s called a S.W.A.P., swapping “your control for God’s control continually.” We do this by Surrendering to His will and His every word; Waiting on God in prayer; Avoiding sin, and letting God root out all unrighteousness, and Pursuing the promptings of the Spirit.
We have kicked off Evangelic Expeditions with a Spirit Walk since first reading Steve’s book in 2018. It is a time of getting team members from different places – in this case, three countries: Canada, Nepal, and USA – on the same page.
I read from the foreword of the newer “Special Edition” of Spirit Walk that Steve dictated to his son as his battle with cancer neared its end in 2019. We talked about the Spirit, the least appreciated of the Trinity, and how He has existed since the beginning of HIStory (see Genesis 1:1-2). We then discussed Paul and how, as Steve wrote, he “knew what to do but the Spirit showed him where to do it, with whom, and in whose strength.”
These key thoughts from Spirit Walk:
“Breakthroughs and movements emerge when we follow the pathways God has prepared, not those we try to create ourselves. No matter how many disciples we make or groups we start, at some point we will stall if He is not in full control. If the Spirit does not guide us to the people He has prepared, we are spinning our wheels. You can have a perfect model for evangelism and follow-up discipleship, but if you don’t find the God-prepared people, fruit remains small. You may win individuals to Christ, but you fail to find the breakthrough people who will lead many to salvation – people like the Samaritan woman [John 4], Cornelius [Acts 10], and the Philippians jailer [Acts 16].”
Our team – Grace, Elaine, Brandy, Matthew, Megh, Tej, and I – discussed how God was moving us. We shared stories of God’s goodness in our lives and the ministry He has invited us to witness. We listened to a song, “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters, that a Canadian Board member suggested, saying it would encourage our hearts and “it’s a fantastic worship song and very fitting for C4C!” We prayed, then we studied His Word, reading John 1 and 1 Chronicles 1, 2 and 3 and answering questions posed by Elaine and my Abide study Bible. Then we prayed some more.
Filled with the Spirit, we are ready to GO. Brandy, Matthew, Megh, and I fly to eastern Nepal on Monday to begin our nine-day trek. Grace, Elaine, and Tej will serve in the SARA Children’s Home and at SARA’s main Kathmandu church. We ask for traveling mercies – around town and around the country. We also ask that certain eyes be blinded to our activities while other eyes be made open to the invitation from Jesus.
“The time has come,” he [Jesus] said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:15 (NIV)
Saturday, May 20
Gary preaches with Megh translating. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
Friday’s flight into Kathmandu only added fuel to the message I’d written earlier in the week – ironically while recovering from a nasty virus in Colorado only days before this trip – to share with Megh’s Milap church today. The message is titled “The Year of Living Difficulty” and chronicles the challenges Climbing For Christ has faced since New Year’s eve, including an attack on the church of C4C members in India by Hindus, the destruction of the start of a church building of a ministry partner in Pakistan by Muslims, the earthquake in Turkey, and the tropical cyclone in Malawi.
“So much damage. So much suffering,” I said before turning to words of encouragement I have received from Board members, supporters, and C4C members. These speak of facing trials just like Jesus, of overcoming because Jesus overcame, and actively waiting for the return of Jesus – all supported by God’s Word.
“We wait upon the Lord. But our waiting is not idle. God has given us things to do,” I said, pointing to Ephesians 2:10.
I shared the story of Joseph (Genesis 50) and how God put him in a position to help – even those he’d been hurt by. God made good out of what was intended for evil. We, too, are called to help – both brothers and sisters in Christ and those in need of rescue by our Rescuing Lord.
As it says in Acts 1:8, we have received power from the Holy Spirit coming upon us. And we are His witnesses, telling people about Jesus everywhere – in Kathmandu, throughout Bagmati, in Nepal, and to the ends of the earth.
There are Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and animists and atheists all around the Climbing For Christ world needing to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. No matter how difficult things might be for us, we have work to do and a God to make famous among the nations. A God who is good at turning evil intentions into actions that glorify His name.
A plate of momos, Nepali dumplings – in this case chicken – with a spicy chutney sauce. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Megh’s church has about 300 believers, including children, attending worship and “Sunday school” every Saturday. They continue to work on expanding their church building as the body of Christ grows bigger.
After worship, we were blessed with a homemade lunch of momos and fresh fruit. Nothing says “welcome to Nepal” like a plate of hot momos. We are honored and grateful to be here.
Friday, May 19
Some of the path of our descent into Kathmandu.
The prayer for uneventful – even “enjoyable” – travel was being answered until the Korean Air flight Grace, Elaine, and I were on approached its final destination: Kathmandu International Airport. As we descended into dark clouds, the plane rocked, and then suddenly the pilot banked and did a “go-round,” aborting the landing. The flight attendant announced it was “normal procedure” – if things are going wrong.
We went “round” for the next 1 ½ hours, circling south of Kathmandu as bad weather stormed the area and as we prayed up a storm. Many of our prayer warriors back home were doing the same as they monitored our flight.
Finally, our two-hour-long landing ended positively. We praise God for a safe arrival, if only slightly eventful. We also praise Him for getting the many audio Bibles we brought through a screening at the airport and into Nepal, where Brandy and Matthew landed earlier in the day and Megh and Tej were waiting to pick us up. We have arrived.
Wednesday, May 17
Our team will be in the air as Wednesday ends and Friday begins. There is no Thursday on our calendars as we’ll all be flying.
Brandy and Matthew headed east out of Calgary, AB flying to Montreal this afternoon and then tonight to Doha, Qatar. From there they will fly to Kathmandu, arriving Friday late morning (local time).
Grace, who lives in Canon City, CO met up with Elaine and me at Denver International Airport to start our flights west. We fly Denver-Los Angeles-Seoul-Kathmandu, arriving Friday late afternoon (local time).
We received many encouraging messages from our special Mission: Nepal/India prayer group, which is made up of nearly three dozen Prayer Team members. One prayer warrior asked the Lord to “surround them with Your powerful health, peace, protection during this whole trip and may You sing over them during their travels; that it may not only go well and uneventful but that it may even be enjoyable.” Amen!
Buddhist prayer flags litter the villages and mountainsides in the Kangchenjunga area. (Photo by Corey Slider, Mission: Nepal 2022)
“Our goal will be to break the bondage of the darkness of the Kanchenjunga area.”
This was Kingdom worker Megh Gurung’s answer to my question about our return to eastern Nepal for a trek into the area around the world’s third-highest mountain. We are GO-ing back to a Buddhist stronghold.
“Mainly our goal is to reach the unreached people groups,” Megh said, “and win the souls of those who are thirsty and hungry in those areas.”
This is Climbing For Christ’s 20th expedition into Nepal, dating back to our 2008 trek to Everest Base Camp and repeated trips to the Mid-West and Western regions of this Himalayan country. Megh and I will be making our 17th trek together since 2012.
“C4C has done wonderful mission work in Nepal because they established the kingdom of God in Rolpa, Humla, and Kavre, too,” Megh said. “C4C built the church buildings.”
We’ve been honored to build nine houses of worship in Nepal, including two rebuilt after the 2015 earthquake. We’ve also been blessed to build up numerous church bodies. But most importantly, we’ve had the joy of walking alongside the ministries of Megh and Pastor Tej Rokka, a ministry partner since 2009.
Nepal is closed to proselytism. A more stringent anti-conversion law was put in place in 2017, threatening jail time and a fine. But Nepali Christians are bold and undeterred.
Nepal is predominantly Hindu, with the second-largest number of Hindus in the world after India. The mountainous north, however, is majority Buddhist.
Christianity is alleged to be the fifth most practiced religion, according to Nepal’s last census – ranking behind Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Kirant (a folk religion). But the census numbers (1.4 percent) are far below what some outside groups claim (anywhere from one to three million in a country of 30 million).
“Satan is very clever,” Megh said, “and wants to close the evangelism in Nepal. But God will never stop His kingdom expansion in Jesus’ name. Christians are growing in Nepal.”
We hope to see an increase in Kangchenjunga, where no ministry that we know of has been working and where the Good News was introduced to many during our 2022 trek. Audio Bibles have been and will be distributed there by our team.
We have a veteran team with C4C Canada coordinator Brandy Fisher (seventh C4C trip to Nepal) and her husband Dr. Matthew Fisher (fifth mission) joining Megh (17th), his cousin Samuel Gurung (fifth), and me (18th) on the trek. Elaine Fallesen (ninth) and Grace Comstock (second) will be serving at the Climbing For Christ-sponsored SARA Children’s Home run by Pastor Tej (ninth).
This is the first leg of a two-mission trip. Nepal is scheduled May 17-June 3 followed by Mission: India from June 3-8, where our North American team will survey some states in the Indian Himalayan Region with another ministry partner.
We are in agreement with brother Megh, who declared: “I am excited to get there. But Satan is clever and can bring obstacles to us.” We are entering his territory – bringing Light to darkness. For the glory of God. Pray on!
The Cure - SARA Home from Gary Fallesen on Vimeo.