Mission: Nepal 2018
By Gary and Elaine Fallesen
Sunday, April 22
Pastor Tej Rokka and his wife, Bidhya (left to right); Gary and Elaine, and Bhim and Megh Gurung. Elaine is holding the C4C birthday cake our Nepali brothers and sisters presented us on April 20.
We read a devotional on our flights back to the United States called “Ending Well,” which correctly stated: “it is a travesty for any follower of Jesus to arrive at the end of their race with strength to spare. We are to be poured out, spent, and exhausted on the Gospel.” Amen!
The same is true of a mission trip. We should return exhausted, having poured out and spending everything we have to offer in the field.
We returned to the Home Office in Rochester, NY today, completing an 18-day trip. We hope we gave all we had for God’s glory.
Saturday, April 21
Rajendra, right, and Gideon, second from left in the front, lead worship. Other Project 1:27-sponsored youth on the worship team include Manisha, Swostika and Lydia. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
Gary was honored to share the message at Pastor Tej's main SARA church in Kathmandu, which Climbing For Christ helped build in 2014. He spoke about the persecuted church and used 2 Thessalonians 1:5-9 to encourage more than 125 believers. "Don't give up! Never give up. Jesus will return one day to bring justice," he said, adding "Christ is glorified when we stand strong in times of trial."
Tej said the message was "a blessing and a good reminder" to the church that we are victorious and have nothing to fear. This church in Kathmandu, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next Saturday, faces many "hard troubles" with persecution, Tej said. People lose jobs because they are Christian and the church is under attack through the enforcement of anti-conversion laws.
We are praying for the church in Nepal and ask you to do the same. Gary said, "Together, we can stand against any opposition - other religions or political powers. Even the ultimate enemy: Satan."
We are wrapping up our time this time in Nepal. We have an evening flight out. The work here will continue and, as Gary said, quoting from 1 Peter 5:11, "God will be in control forever! Amen."
Friday, April 20
Our favorite Nepali kids at the SARA Children's Home.
(Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Elaine reviewed yesterday's teaching on listening for God's still small voice, and the children easily recalled the lesson. Baptismal gifts were then given to Anisha, Shristi, and Susan, the latest children in Pastor Tej's care to be baptized.
Ann McNeill, a Project 1:27 sponsor and teacher in Houghton, NY, sent letters of encouragement from her students to the children, which Elaine delivered. She then handed out gift bags.
Today is the 14th anniversary of Climbing For Christ's incorporation as a non-profit in the U.S. This also marks the 10th year we have been serving in Nepal.
"God is doing many great things," Tej said. "Several churches built, children helped, many new believers where there weren't any, people have been able to go on treks" - and the Gospel has been, is being, and will be heard.
We celebrated Climbing For Christ's birthday with dinner and a cake at Megh and Bhim Gurung's house. Tej and Bhidya Rokka joined us for this Nepali-style birthday party. We also spoke on the phone with brother Thana from the church at Simikot. He just returned from one of the villages we visited on our trek from Humla to Mugu in September 2017 and reported two people have come to Christ. We rejoice with all of heaven. A sweet birthday gift.
Thursday, April 19
Younger children sing a song about Samuel hearing from the Lord as told in 1 Samuel 3, which was part of Elaine's lesson about listening to God. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Elaine taught the children at SARA's Children's Home about hearing God speak, based on a lesson from Pastor Mark Batterson's Whisper. She talked about how God created all things with His voice (Genesis 1:3). "It's His way of saying, 'Look what I can do with four words: Let there be light.'" Except it's seven words when translated into Nepali.
The lesson focused on the power of God's voice, but as Elijah learned on the mountain in 1 Kings 19:11-12 that voice is still and small.
After this teaching and some snacks the children were asked to draw or paint what it feels like to be close to God or hear His voice. Craft supplies were distributed and left at the Children's Home. Elaine had the kids close their eyes, and then we watched them get creative with water colors, colored pencils, markers, crayons, tape and glue.
Climbing For Christ has been associated with the children in Pastor Tej's care through Project 1:27 since 2011.
Wednesday, April 18
We flew from Nepalgunj back to Kathmandu this morning and had the afternoon off. Some down time with cafe mochas and our Bibles, a chance to recharge physically and spiritually. We are also preparing for the final three days in Nepal and time to be spent with the Project 1:27-sponsored children and Pastor Tej's SARA church. We are praying to finish this particular mission strong.
Tuesday, April 17
Megh, left, and Pastor Dulsar of the Korchabang church, baptize an 80-year-old Dharmashala woman. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
We baptized 16 believers from the church at Dharmashala before heading out of Rolpa and returning to Nepalgunj. The baptisms were done at the small pool built behind the church at Korchabang for security reasons. They would have been done in a stream in Dharmashala and locals might have turned us in to authorities. Megh, who does the pre-baptism teaching, also will not baptize anyone under 18 to avoid problems with schools.
Ages did range from young adult to one woman who appeared to be about 80 years old. When Megh asked her if someone was forcing her to be baptized, she replied: "I had many problems with my health. When I came to the Lord, my health became better. I want to be baptized."
Praise God, hallelujah.
We also distributed four Nepali Bibles to the new believers who did not have a Bible, and Megh gave out some audio Bibles.
After that we made the tedious drive out of the mountains, southward toward the border of India. We thanked God for our arrival in Nepalgunj after one flat tire and mechanical problems that made the last three hours of an eight-hour drive a prayerfest.
Monday, April 16
We cut the ribbon to officially open the church at Dharmashala for God's business and then worshiped with about 300 believers for 3 1/2 hours. There was a dahl bat lunch break during which more than 500 people were fed, including many Hindu neighbors. Then nearly two hours of dance and music were performed by the youth attending the church dedication.
Worship in the church at Dharmashala. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
The newly built church was filled to capacity with many looking in and listening through the windows. Several churches joined the day-long celebration, including the mother church at Korchabang. Dulsar, the former Maoist leader who pastors the Korchabang church, is also leading Dharmashala at this time. Climbing For Christ has been blessed to help both Korchabang and Dharmashala build houses of worship.
Elaine represented Matthew and Brandy Fisher of C4C Canada, who were instrumental in funding the Dharmashala church build. Gary then preached on how our faith and hope in God should be based on His greatness and majesty, and not whether He has blessed us. Gary (with Megh translating and explaining points) asked the church, if God took away the house of worship they were celebrating, would they still be Christ followers? "Yes," they answered in unison.
He used to book of Job to teach about faithfulness and encouraged the church to continue sharing the love of Jesus with others no matter the cost.
Sunday, April 15
We made the arduous, all-day trip from Kathmandu in Nepal's Central Region to remote Korchabang in the Mid-West district of Rolpa. It started with a flight to Nepalgunj and continued with a nine-hour drive, half on one-lane dirt roads through the mountains. We shared the roads with buses, trucks, motorbikes, and sacred cows.
We returned to Rolpa for the dedication of the newly built church at Dharmashala, where the body has grown to 90 members. Dharmashala was a plant of the Korchabang church, which now numbers about 180. We have witnessed God's multiplication of these numbers since we first worshiped outdoors on a mountainside with a few dozen believers in 2011.
Saturday, April 14
The church at Pokhara. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
We worshiped with about 40 believers in a house church at Pokhara. Gary shared a teaching on the Great Commission from Matthew 28:16-20 and Megh spoke about evangelism, encouraging those who return to their home villages in the surrounding mountains to tell family and friends about Jesus. Our desire is to equip the church here to follow Jesus' final instruction to His followers: go and make disciples.
Climbing For Christ has been paying monthly rent (only US $137) for this house church and praying about the possibility of building this body of believers its own house of worship. Funds are being raised to purchase land and start a building, which would be the sixth church C4C has been blessed to build in Nepal. Megh said the church has grown from about 25 to 40 in the past six months. We encouraged them to go and make disciples so more would become Christ followers.
After worship, our team flew back to Kathmandu to overnight before heading to the Mid-West district of Rolpa, where we have also been blessed to watch God build up the church in a place once devoted to Maoism.
Today was New Year's Day in Nepal. It is 2075 here.
Friday, April 13
Another day in the Himalayas, another mountain: Nilgiri South. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
We returned to Pokhara from what Megh dubbed a "scouting" trip in which "every place that the sole of your foot tread upon I have given you" (Joshua 1:3). "God will one day do His work in those villages," Megh said, confidently. "We can see the answer in 2-3 years."
We were successful on the six-day trek because, Megh said, the "four of us put on the full armor of God." Even an injury would not allow Satan to snatch away victory, Megh declared. (A note: Elaine's sprained ankle is healing nicely, thanks be to God.)
The Jeep drive back - less than 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) - would have taken an hour in North America. In Nepal, it was 6 1/4 hours.
We returned to a momo lunch as guests at a restaurant owned by one of the church leaders. That church, with whom we will worship on Saturday, holds the key to the success Megh confidently predicted. We'll be encouraging them to walk in the good works God has prepared for them in the mountain villages in the years ahead.
Thursday, April 12
We descended from Ghara and through the final permit checkpoint on the trail in this part of the Annapurna region by Jeep rather than by foot. Elaine's sprained ankle made the 3 1/2-hour hike impossible so Megh hired a local transport. We have questioned why such an accident occurred and know only God allows things to happen for His loving purpose. We trusted and rested today in His presence; everything else is meaningless.
Wenesday, April 11
Dhaulagiri, the world's seventh-highest mountain, was a welcoming sight at the beginning of our fourth day of trekking. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Pastor Mark Batterson wrote in his book Draw the Circle: The Forty Day Prayer Challenge: "if the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray, then we need to take a step of faith and mark God's territory." Megh, Tej and Gary drew a prayer circle around the Hindu village of Ghara, pleading for God's mercy on the lost souls in this town of about 7,000. We stepped out in faith in the rain, even as Elaine rested an ankle injury from our day on the trail.
We went to work today handing out tracts, an audio Bible, even some animal crackers (a gift our son sent for Megh) shared with a 92-year-old woman. Just trying to spread the love of Jesus to those who don't know of His affection for them.
When a local festival in the village where we had planned on staying closed all the guest houses, we pushed on to the next village. That's when Elaine turned her ankle and when we found ourselves circling prayers around an unreached village.
Tuesday, April 10
We were somewhere in the forest when Megh had an idea. He suggested pushing on past the town we were planning to stay in and go directly to the next village. It would get us off the beaten path we'd been trekking for three days and into the area we hoped to target. We pressed on.
It required a short, steep descent after several hours of climbing, and plunged us into darkness. No church here. No believers. Welcome to hard ground.
The nearby range of Himalayan giants remained obscured by clouds as we completed a 10K day with nearly 5,000 feet of elevation change. Much of the time has been spent in forests full of flowering trees, birds, and monkeys - all singing praises to the Creator - and trekking tourists in their own world.
Monday, April 9
We climbed the more than 3,000 stone steps laid in the trail between villages separated by 1,400 vertical feet to start day two of our trek. It was a steep ascent in the hot morning sun, which led us to meet the area's first believer. We prayed for him and his wife before continuing our climb to the next village.
The church in Pokhara ("countless" houses of worship, according to Tej) is growing, but there is a dearth of believers in the mountain villages. The farther we go this week, the fewer we will find - until we reach an area where there is a Gospel void. We are praying to see that void filled.
Sunday, April 8
We picked up a porter from the church at Pokhara on our way out of town and drove a couple hours to the trailhead to start our six-day trek. We hiked 4.5 miles, ascending about 1,300 feet on a warm day. We are surveying an area that is new to us, where God is already present and working.
Megh, right, and Elaine climbing toward the village that was our first day destination. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Saturday, April 7
We were back at the airport after seemingly only a few hours. This time for a domestic flight. We joined hundreds jammed into the "gate" area, waiting for departures all delayed by weather. Ironically, because we opted for a smaller plane (one of the Twin Otters that fly us into Simikot) we left Kathmandu ahead of Tej, who was waiting 1 1/2 hours before us. We made the half-hour flight uneventfully and were soon joined by Tej in Pokhara. The four of us (two Nepalis and two jet-lagged Americans) will begin a six-day trek on Sunday.
Friday, April 6
We are the sent ones. But we cannot succeed without a prayer covering. We need the prayers of the saints to guide our footsteps, guard our backs, and glorify the King of kings. Especially in a place where millions of gods are lords to the people in our path.
We arrived in Kathmandu this evening (local time). Thanks be to God! Brother Megh, Pastor Tej and Rajendra (from SARA Children's Home) were waiting at the airport to welcome us back to Nepal.
In his book, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, Pastor Mark Batterson writes: "we need a prayer covering." He points to the helping hands of Aaron and Hur, who held up the arms of Moses, in Exodus 17. And he quotes Walter Wink, who said, "History belongs to the intercessors."
We are in Nepal to continue HIS story, but the real work is done back home - or wherever YOU are reading this. We need a prayer covering. Please intercede for us. Pray on!
Thursday, April 5
We are jetting into tomorrow. We know it has been readied for us by God and our prayers have already reached there and beyond. Our staff and Boards are doing a 40 Day Prayer Challenge and circling all things in prayer affecting or affected by Climbing For Christ, including this trip and all the travel it entails. May we diminish as we enter this (and every) foreign land, and may the God of the Bible grow larger among the nations. Father, be glorified!
The signs carried by Christians through the streets of Kathmandu read: “Jesus is Resurrected,” “King of kings,” “Lord of lords,” “Empty tomb” and “He is alive.” Easter was celebrated publicly in the predominantly Hindu country, where anti-conversion laws were enacted by the government in an attempt to keep people from joining a movement to follow Christ.
A policeman, above left, reads signs carried by Christians marching to worship at the park, below, on Easter Saturday in Kathmandu. The Sabbath is celebrated on Saturdays in Nepal. (Photos by Megh Gurung).
Brother Megh Gurung, our co-worker in Nepal, said his government allowed the Easter celebration “in the open place in Kathmandu” because “other countries will give pressure for Nepal” if they did not permit it. Nepal is now a secular state that provides freedom to practice one’s own religion under the constitution. However, proselytizing is prohibited and anti-conversion laws are being enforced.
As we prepare to embark on our 15th trip to Nepal (and 95th expedition overall) we are looking forward to trekking in a new area, dedicating the church at Dharmashala in Nepal’s Mid-West district of Rolpa, and spending time with our Project 1:27-sponsored children.
The recently completed house of worship, above, for the church at Dharmashala (below, worshiping on Palm Saturday). This is the fifth church build Climbing For Christ has assisted in Nepal and 10th overall.
CLICK HERE for our Mission: Nepal 2018 Prayer Bulletin.