Mission: Nepal 2017, Part 1
By Gary Fallesen
, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Monday, May 15
The team, in front of the church at Korchabang: (left to right) Elaine, Gary, Hayley, Claudia, Megh and Mitch. (Photo by Samuel Gurung)
We are heading back to our earthly homes (Hebrews 13:14). I have met with Megh and Pastor Tej and we have prayerfully planned together. God continues to be on the move here and continues to move in us. We are excited about the future of Mission: Nepal, which includes:
The building of a church at Dharmasala in the Mid-West district of Rolpa. More than US$9,000 is needed to begin construction.
Trekking in (and out of) the Far West district of Humla in September with a visit to the church at Simikot.
The “passion and vision” Megh has for a new church plant in Pokhara. He shared how he would like to see a house of worship built for this small-but-growing body so workers may be sent out into six or seven neighboring districts. I could see this vision as he shared with zeal. We are praying for God to provide $20,000 for the purchase of land this year (Matthew 19:26). In conjunction with this, Mission: Nepal 2018 will trek out of Pokhara. Watch for more details.
Training, which is the key to church planting and growth here. Pastor Tej has planned five regional trainings this year. This is part of his SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) ministry’s 20/20 Vision – to see a church planted in each of the country’s 75 districts by 2020. We would like to support these week-long trainings, which cost only $600 each.
Continuing support of SARA’s Children’s Home through Project 1:27. More sponsors are needed.
Join us in prayer for these and other opportunities to help believers and, as Tej said, show non-Christians we are “not propagating religion, but showing the love of God.” Also, if the Spirit stirs you to give to or GO on Mission: Nepal, email info@ClimbingForChrist.org. God uses His people to both fund and serve the work He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).
There is much for us to give thanks for and to reflect on as we begin the 26-hour journey back to the States. All glory to God!
Sunday, May 14
The streets of Kathmandu were deserted. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
The first thing we noticed this morning was the noise. There wasn’t any. Kathmandu was quiet. No sounds of grinding gears from trucks and buses. No motor bikes buzzing around like overgrown mosquitoes. No horns beeping.
The streets in this city of about 2.5 million people were silent.
We walked around the Thamel tourist district with no fear of being picked off by a wayward taxi or motorcycle. Traffic and travel were banned as people walked, nation-wide, to polling places. It was the first local election in two decades and Nepal was taking it seriously. News reports are estimating voter turnout at 71 percent; roughly 40 percent of Americans vote in non-presidential elections.
Incredibly, there were nearly 50,000 candidates for four positions (mayor, deputy mayor, ward chair and ward member) in 283 local municipalities. We met several candidates during our travels, including Megh’s younger cousin Samuel, who was part of our team.
CLICK HERE to see Election Day in pictures by The Himalayan Times.
These historic elections gave our team an unscheduled rest day – for which we were thankful – after 15 days on the GO. It occurred as we celebrated Mother’s Day with the one mom on our team (Elaine). We are praying for peaceful election results and have reminded our brothers and sisters in Christ that no matter who gets elected (for or against Christians) God is on the throne and in control.
Saturday, May 13
Gary, right, shares about God’s love with the church at Phulkharka as brother Megh translates. (Photo by Mitch Harris)
Now I understand why there were so many challenges this past week, especially illness and the situation surrounding Nepal’s local election. One brother had even suggested in advance of our out-and-back to Phulkharka that I cancel the trip. But I said I had made a promise to visit Megh’s home village and preach in the church there.
The result: God delivered a powerful message about His love and the role a Christian plays in His story.
“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” – Romans 11:36 (NIV)
Mitch, Claudia, Bhim, Megh and I spent more than 15 hours in a bucking bronc of a Toyota Land Cruiser, heaving to and fro on mountain roads yesterday and today, simply to attend two hours of worship. We drove to the Dhading district northwest of Kathmandu yesterday. We needed to return in advance of tomorrow’s election – the first local elections in 20 years – because no transport will be allowed.
Strangely enough, roads that were deep ruts of mud requiring creeping in 4-wheel-drive low yesterday were mostly dust today. And even more mysterious, I returned to Kathmandu healthy.
The trip was worth it.
I was able to share about God’s love (see 1 John 4:7-21) and how He is and will be glorified in all things. I spoke about the devastating 2015 earthquake and how He was glorified even through that – a new church at Phulkharka and half of the 100-plus in worship came to Christ after the quake.
I told the church its role in God’s story is to share His love with each other and those still in darkness. “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
I believe this was a message the church at Phulkharka needed to hear, and that’s why the past several days were filled with so many tests and attacks by the enemy.
Elaine and Hayley stayed in Kathmandu so she could recuperate from a week of sickness. That meant they got to worship at Pastor Tej’s main SARA church. “Everyone was caught off guard with our surprise visit,” Elaine said.
She told us how the orphans from SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) Home converged on their American friends, “enveloping them in generous hugs amid squeals of delight.”
“Gideon has become an expert worship leader and chooses each week’s songs. Manisha, Lydia and orphanage helper Manoj sang on the worship team. The band led us through many songs we had not heard in the mountains. Pastor Tej warmly welcomed us and prayed for Climbing For Christ. His brother Karna preached today, focusing on the story of Zacchaeus and how we all should desire to come down from our ‘trees’ and meet Jesus.”
Wherever we were worshiping in Nepal’s Central Region – Dhading or Kathmandu – it was a blessed day for our team. To God alone be the glory!
Friday, May 12
Megh delivered us to his home village, where – in 1991 – he became the first Christian in this part of the Dhading district about 100 miles northwest of Kathmandu. Today there are five churches in the area, three of which Climbing For Christ helped rebuild after the devastating 2015 earthquake.
We stopped at one rebuilt church on our rough 7½-hour drive (the last 4½ in 4-wheel-drive on rugged dirt roads into the mountains). Then we arrived in Phulkharka, where Megh first learned about Jesus from a tract left on a trail. He carried that tract with him for over one year, reading it over and over, until he encountered a Christian in Kathmandu. That divine appointment led him to the Lord, and he’s been used by the Spirit to do the same ever since.
Bhim, Megh’s wife and the second believer in Phulkharka all those years ago, joined us on this final leg of the mission. Elaine and Hayley remained in Kathmandu, recuperating from a week of illness.
The church at Phulkharka was destroyed in the earthquake so Megh suggested they build a new church at a different location. God used us to provide some of the funding. This church continues to grow. Many showed up to watch a Nepali Christian movie tonight and we’ll be blessed to worship with them on Saturday.
Thursday, May 11
We flew back to Kathmandu this morning. Thankfully, Hayley’s health had improved. We regrouped for a return to the mountains tomorrow by enjoying some fellowship with Megh’s family, which is a mission tradition. Megh’s beautiful wife Bhim cooks our team a wonderful Nepali meal (with help from family and friends) and we exchange gifts. The greatest gift we have received is deepening relationships with our Nepali brothers and sisters in Christ, and the blessing of a front-row seat to witness the church’s growth.
(Some new photos have been added below.)
Wednesday, May 10
We broke camp in the rain with a thunderstorm rolling over the mountains into Jugar and made the rough 5½-hour drive back down to Nepalgunj. The first 2¼ hours covered just 17 miles of muddy, bumpy road. Hayley, who is extremely ill, endured the ride out of Rolpa.
Please pray for our team’s health (Elaine and I also have dealt with some sort of stomach virus and fevers, while Claudia and Mitch have avoided getting sick) as we return to Kathmandu tomorrow. We have unfinished business.
Tuesday, May 9
Megh taught two more lessons at the church-leader training center before we move on to the next village, Jugar. This is our first time here (even for Megh) and, although there is a church, the Christian population is a small minority.
Hayley and Mitch played volleyball with the village kids while Claudia climbed a local mountain. As has been the routine the past four nights, when darkness descended a Nepali Christian film was shown with hopes of bringing more light to this place.
Monday, May 8
Audio Bibles for 17 students and the pastor (front left) heading an eight-week church-leader training program. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Sickness on the team changed trekking plans, so instead of being in a few remote villages we were blessed to teach at a local church-leader training in Gar Gare. We met 17 youth from eight villages and shared about prayer, taught and distributed Gospel bracelets (“a Bible on your wrist,” Elaine told them), and delivered audio Bibles. As Megh explained the audio Bibles I was struck again by God’s perfect timing and way and again realized why Proverbs 16:9 is one of our ministry life verses.
We would have only reached a few villages over three days of strenuous trekking. These 17 young people will take these tools back to many villages spread around Rolpa.
It doesn’t matter what the world (physical or spiritual) throws at us – and the evil one has tried to distract us in numerous ways – we know: if God is for us who can stand against us? Thunderstorms that pounded the tin roof of the church we were meeting in could not stop the training. When it was too loud to hear the lesson, we paused to sing and pray.
While no one wants to feel sick to their stomach (or worse) on a mission trip, we rejoice in the way God works. He allowed us to have another day of fellowship and witness what He did in Korchabang on Sunday, and then brought us to Gar Gare to meet four sons and 13 daughters of the King who hunger to learn about Jesus. As Elaine said to them: “You are the future of the church.” I predict a bright future.
Sunday, May 7
Megh, left, and Pastor Dulsar baptize Mina Basadur. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
The day began with the baptism of three believers in the church at Korchabang. Megh instructed Nokha Basadur, his wife Mina, and another sister, Ashamaya, in what it means to be a baptized believer. We then prayed for the three before Megh and Pastor Dulsar baptized them in a baptismal pool built behind the church.
In addition to praying for the baptized, I was blessed to dedicate to the Lord a baby boy named Samip and we joined the church in praying for repentance over a prodigal son named Manoj.
Gary dedicated baby Samip to the Lord while Megh translates his prayer. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
Claudia set out to climb a local mountain with Samuel Gurung, a 30-year-old cousin of Megh’s who joined us on this mission, and a few of the youth from the village. The entire area is hills, mountains and valleys with steep ascents and descents so finding something to climb – even trees – isn’t difficult. At the top they prayed amidst Hindu shrines.
The rest of the team visited a roadside food cart that Dulsar started with support from C4C Canada. He and others in this church have the initiative to work hard to support ministry in this remote part of the Mid-West district of Rolpa. We then visited the Korchabang church plant at Ghapa. About 30 members from the church at Korchabang have been charged with starting a new church because the body has outgrown their house of worship. Rather than asking for a new building, they are planting. Megh, Mitch and I hiked down a week-old trail to a deserted house owned by a Christian, who has loaned it to the church. I shared with them a reflection on Luke 10:2-3 and we prayed with church leaders Nanda, Sita, and Shyam Kumari. It was an honor to witness God birthing yet another church in a place where so many do not know His name.
We were blessed to spend more time throughout the day in fellowship with other parts of the body, prayerfully strengthening and encouraging them.
Saturday, May 6
The heaviness of Dharmasala was replaced today by the peace and joy of Korchabang. We broke camp in the former village and moved to the latter for a day of blessed worship.
Saturday is the Sabbath in Nepal so we gathered with the church at Korchabang, about 125 strong, in the house of worship we helped them build. As always, they sang songs of praise and shouted prayers of thanksgiving with full voice and heart, and were fully engaged in the message I delivered about “Hope.”
In the evening, I had an opportunity to speak again, this time teaching about prayer. Our team members, all first-time visitors, each took a turn speaking to the church and praying for parts of the body. They were moved by the love of the Korchabang people. This is where the church began in Rolpa, the Mid-West district that was once the center of the Maoist civil war from 1996-2006. Today, a kingdom movement is underway; a revolution that has seen a few believers multiply into scores of churches throughout the mountains.
“May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13
Friday, May 5
“This place is a stronghold,” brother Megh said repeatedly throughout the day in Dharmasala. He was referring to the prevailing spiritual darkness plaguing the people even as we met for fellowship in the morning with about two dozen professing believers, visited a large parcel of land purchased for the church here, worshipped and showed a Nepali Christian film outside on a hill after sundown.
I felt a heavy burden on my heart as I preached a message, “A Prayer for the New Church,” based on Colossians 1:9-14. I explained to 60-70 people gathered in the evening that they were a baby church; a body of Christ that must grow up. They are called to be a light in the vast darkness around them, and we will pray for this to happen.
The construction of a house of worship may help. We delivered US$2,070 toward the estimated cost of $12,500. It is our desire to see this church grow as an example of God’s love poured out on Dharmasala.
Thursday, May 4
We flew across Nepal from Kathmandu to Nepalgung and then drove a hard nine hours into the mountains to Dharmasala. We only traveled 125 miles by Jeep, but the last 25 took six hours on rough, dusty roads.
When we arrived we were met by the first Christian in the area, a sister from nearby Korchabang, who expressed praise for our return. She wondered if we would be back after a medical emergency altered my travel to Rolpa in April of 2016.
But we have returned to encourage the local Church in Dharmasala, where we will be building a house of worship: in Korchabang, and in house churches in various villages a few days of trekking away.
Wednesday, May 3
Chhiring, right, and Ranjan look at photos of Malawi orphans before making cards to send to Africa. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Elaine read that verse from John 14:18 and then told the 36 children sitting in front of her at the Savior Alone Redeems Asians (SARA) children’s home, “God comes to you in many ways. He sent Pastor Tej and SARA ministries. He sent Climbing For Christ. And He sent sponsors (through C4C’s Project 1:27). God takes care of you through all the people He puts in your life.”
She shared how on another continent God was using Climbing For Christ to help another group of children “the same way He helps you,” and she introduced the SARA kids to the young people at Far & Wide Children’s Home in Malawi, Africa, where Project 1:27 originated. We showed the children a music video from missions Malawi and Nepal 2016 (CLICK HERE to watch “The Great Awakening”).
Then, after distributing cards from yet another group of children on yet another continent (youth at Hope Lutheran Church in Rochester, NY, USA made the cards after a Lenten dinner that helped support this trip), Elaine had the SARA kids make cards that will be delivered next month on Mission: Malawi 2017. These so-called orphans are making friends around the world.
They also learned more about how much they are loved when we took each child aside to read them a letter from their sponsors and share photos that had been sent with us. The unsponsored children (there were five and three more children have been added to the home) also received a letter prepared by a Climbing For Christ member and supporter.
Of course, the children are reminded often that God loves them more than anyone and they have a friend in Jesus.
Three of the girls at the SARA home – (left to right) Mahima, Jyoti and Swostika – were baptized on Easter Sunday. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Tuesday, May 2
The day here began with sunshine and good news – as we heard from Laurie and Kevin Kimble (the latter a Climbing For Christ Board member) after they’d spent Monday evening pumping our flooded yard back into Lake Ontario. Thanks to our Prayer Team for lifting our needs and for those who answered His call to help. The inside of the C4C home office remains dry.
This information brightened our day as we set out for Pastor Tej’s SARA (Savior Alone Redeems Asians) children’s home outside of Kathmandu.
Elaine led the first of two days of teaching and playing with 36 children, including five girls from another home several hours away. Hayley, Mitch and Claudia also enjoyed playtime with the kids, who reviewed the Easter story and received wristbands with symbols to remember how God sent His Son down to die on a cross for our sins, defeated death, ascended to heaven to make a place for believers, and promises to return again for us.
Elaine Fallesen and Karna Rokka, Pastor Tej’s brother, explain the symbols held by four of the orphans and Karna’s daughter. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Each of the children will be receiving letters and photos from Project 1:27 sponsors during our visit as well as cards from youth at Hope Lutheran Church in Rochester, NY; artwork from students in sponsor parent Ann McNeill’s class at Houghton (NY) Christian Academy, and gifts from Climbing For Christ. They also have an opportunity to entertain our team in dance, song, and the reciting of memory verses. Not to mention playing various games with their honored guests.
Claudia Warren plays a game with the orphans on the rooftop of their home as laundry dries in the sun. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
Monday, May 1
Monkeys climbing over the walls at the “Monkey Temple” (Swayambhu) in Kathmandu, above. Below, a body (draped in orange) is “purified” for burning while children fish for valuables left in the Bagmati River. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
We exposed our team to the culture of Nepal by visiting two telltale temples: Swayambhu (better known as the Monkey Temple) and Pashupatinath. These are places where the beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism are on display for all to see – from the use of prayer flags and wheels to the worship of cows and monkeys to the purification and burning of dead bodies in a sacred river. Welcome to Nepal, a former Hindu kingdom that remains 82.5 percent Hindu and 9.4 percent Buddhist, according to the Joshua Project.
Another welcome to Nepal: the day we arrived famous Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck became the first death of the Mount Everest climbing season, falling more than 3,000 feet on the icy Nuptse Face.
Death is all around. Much of it among the walking.
While we spent time with Pastor Tej and brother Megh observing and learning more about their culture, we also celebrated life. Today was team member Hayley Fallesen’s 23rd birthday.
Meanwhile on the home front, we learned our house on the shore of Lake Ontario is being flooded by a Great Lake that is at its highest level in 24 years with more rain pouring down on the Rochester, NY area this week. Please pray for favor for our property as we continue to serve Him overseas.
Uneventful air travel (always a praise report) brought us back to Nepal. We
landed Sunday evening in Kathmandu, greeted by our dear Nepali brothers in
Christ, Pastor Tej and Megh. The flights and connections to get here were only
about 24 hours. Tej and Megh delivered us and our luggage to the hotel where we
will be staying the first four nights.
This is Climbing For Christ’s 90th Evangelic Expedition and 13th
to Nepal. We give thanks for all that has been accomplished over the years and
all that will be done on this and future short-term trips.
These words to live by, from the great missionary Paul, written in 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be
courageous. Be strong.”
Saturday, April 29
The Fallesen family (minus one and a future one) flew from Rochester, NY to New York City to meet up with Claudia Warren of Albany, NY. My wife Elaine, our daughter Hayley, Hayley's boyfriend Mitch Harris (of St. Catharines, ON), and I connected with Claudia at the gate for our overseas flight. Claudia came by train. She was very excited to see us as the North American team immediately began to share in joy-filled fellowship. We have many hours of travel and days of serving together to grow closer in the Lord.
We were blessed to be prayed off at the Rochester airport by our son Jesse, who went to Nepal last year; Climbing For Christ spiritual coordinator Jordan Rowley, another Mission: Nepal veteran, and Board member Mary Lindsay. It was the start of 26 hours of flying to reach our Nepali team members. Pray on!
Megh, Gary, Tej and Dave (left to right) in Nepal in 2012. (Photo by Brandy Everts Fisher)
One of my favorite mission photos is above – four brothers standing in a row, smiling, in a village in Langtang, Nepal. The brother to my left, Pastor Tej Rokka, had declared that day that he loved when we visited. “You being here makes me bolder,” Tej said.
It was only my second time in Nepal and my first with the brother to my right. Nine trips later, Megh Gurung is my constant trekking companion. He calls me “big brother.”
“I have been impacted by C4C,” Megh will tell you. “C4C is God’s call to do ministry all over the world and working wonderfully for the Lord.”
Megh is a poster brother for Climbing For Christ, GO-ing where others cannot or will not, into the remote reaches of his mountainous homeland. We will join him in the 18 days ahead on C4C’s 13th expedition to Nepal. It will be a family affair with little brother Megh, big brother Gary, my wife Elaine, our daughter Hayley, her boyfriend Mitchell Harris of St. Catharines, ON, Canada, and Claudia Warren, a member from Albany, NY, whom we are adopting.
First, our team will visit Pastor Tej’s C4C-sponsored children’s home outside Kathmandu. Then we will travel to the Mid-West district of Rolpa to “do visiting and evangelism and give spiritual nutrition among the believers,” Megh said.
We will visit the church where God has us building a house of worship (our fifth in Nepal) and another village where we already helped with a church’s construction. We’ll also trek to several house churches planted in the area since we first went there in 2012.
After that, we will go to Megh’s home village in Nepal’s central region. This area was devastated by the earthquake on April 25, 2015, and C4C was blessed to be able to fund the rebuilding of three churches there. This will be our first visit to that area.
When we reflect on all that God has accomplished through Climbing For Christ in Nepal, we are humbled and honored to be used for His glory. Megh speaks of being “grateful” for C4C. We are grateful for Megh, Tej, and our bold Nepali brothers and sisters in Christ.
CLICK HERE for our Mission: Nepal prayer bulletin. Please pray with and for us.