Following in God’s footsteps
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Our team treks past the church at Yarsha. (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Wherever you GO, there God is.
Moses instructed Joshua not to fear: “The LORD himself goes before you” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Then Joshua heard it from the LORD Himself: “Your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
David recognized there is nowhere in the universe that God will not be present: “If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:8).
Yet we were surprised as we trekked 50 kilometers into the eastern side of the Lower Manaslu area to find churches where none were expected.
“God has already been on the move,” said my wife, Elaine, who listed among her trip highlights “discovering there ARE churches already established in many of the villages we trekked through.”
As a beloved Climbing For Christ supporter put it after following us on daily Dispatches: “What a joy to hear that the Lord had been to many of the remote places where you journeyed. I thought how encouraged the Christians must have been to find that God had sent more believers to them along the paths where most travelers never go!”
Not only did we discover churches and believers while trekking on Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 1, we also met two other kingdom workers on trails less traveled (by outsiders, anyway). As we ate lunch in one village, two men popped their heads over the boulders in the trail. “Jaimashi!” they said, giving the Nepali Christian greeting, which means “Victory in the LORD.”
“We’ve been trying to find you,” they said, causing us some brief concern. It turned out they had heard about us on the trail and decided to pursue us to learn more about what we were doing. Like us, they were surveying an area thought to have no believers.
“We led a woman to Jesus,” one of the foreigners explained, “and when we started to pray with her, her husband interrupted. He said, ‘Most people go pray in the church.’ We said, ‘There’s a church here?!’ He pointed us to the church.”
Elaine called that divine appointment another of the highlights from our trip. “I was stunned,” she said of the encounter.
A store owned by the pastor of a village church in the Manaslu area.
The church in Nepal continues to grow. Never mind the anti-conversion laws put in place to dissuade the spread of “foreign” religions. There may be at least 1 million believers in a nation of nearly 30 million people (of whom 81.3 percent are Hindu and nine percent are Buddhist).
Climbing For Christ continues to help build up the church and build churches. Among the goals in 2019:
Fund the construction of a house of worship and evangelism training center in Pokhara. This would be the sixth church Climbing For Christ has built from scratch and we were blessed to help rebuild many after the 2015 earthquake, including the church at Phulkharka, which we visited on this trek. The church at Pokhara would be different, however, as our desire is to equip believers in Nepal’s second-largest city so they can return to their villages in seven districts with the Gospel message.
Tej said broadcasting matches the vision of Climbing For Christ – to GO where others cannot or will not. “As with the C4C slogan,” Tej explained, “radio can also GO and penetrate the hearts of thousands of people where we can’t go ourselves physically. I am praying and planning to buy time on seven radio stations, at least, to broadcast in all seven provinces of Nepal.
“My prayer is to give an opportunity to all 30 million Nepali-speaking people (to hear about Jesus).”
The use of media – including audio Bibles and the Jesus Film – continues to be among the tools of the ministry in Nepal. We also are blessed to preach and teach.
Elaine enjoyed two “solid” days with the youngsters in Tej’s care who are sponsored by Project 1:27. We visited the SARA Children’s Home to teach, do crafts, pray and play.
“They are all so good, creative, well-behaved, and gushing with love,” Elaine said.
Elaine teaches (with Hanna Rokka translating) the children at SARA Home about having a heart for the LORD.
Our Mission: Nepal 2019, Part 2 team also will visit the Children’s Home in November. Dr. Matthew Fisher will do medical examinations on the children. The November trip will be Climbing For Christ’s 17th Evangelic Expedition to Nepal and the team will be trekking farther into the Manaslu area into the Tsum Valley.
The Tsum people are considered unreached – 100 percent Buddhist, with no Christian presence. But we’ve heard that before.
Joshua Project, one of the ministries that monitors the engagement of people groups globally, states “aside from trekkers and truckers, this valley (located near the China border) is little touched by the outside world.” In fact, as late as August 2018, people affected by the 2015 earthquake were reportedly still living in “tent towns.”
“The Tsum people number some 27,000 and live in a river valley that is fed by glacial melted waters,” the Joshua Project says, adding there are several Buddhist monasteries in the area. “Pray that Christian trekkers will turn their treks into prayer walks and witness to the Tsum people.”
Enter Climbing For Christ.
On our April trek, we did prayer walks above, through and around villages, and witnessed to Gurung and Gharti people. The Gurung (the people group of our brother and co-worker Megh) has a population of 505,000 and is said to be 80 percent Buddhist, 14 percent Hindu, and five percent Christian. The Gharti (population 115,000) are more than 97 percent Hindu with a reported 1.07 percent Christian. A people group is considered unreached if less than five percent of the population professes to be Christian or less than two percent are evangelical and there is little – or no – Christian HIStory.
All but eight of the 266 people groups in Nepal are labelled “unreached” by the Joshua Project. Most mountain villages are strongholds of the enemy. But we know that God is at work among many – if not all – of those people groups. We are witnesses to HIS presence and the growing of HIS church.