STORIES FROM NEPAL
If you take a plane from Kathmandu, Nepal, to the region of Sankhuwasabha, hitch a two hour jeep ride to Khandburi, trek five days past the village of Namase and go up and over the stairs to heaven you'll find yourself in the heart of God's work in the Himalayan Mountains. Chippewah, a village nestled between more than eleven cascading waterfalls, has become a beacon for the love of Jesus amongst Tibetan Buddhist peoples. God has used one missionary in the mid 70’s to bring hundreds of villagers from this obscure people group to Jesus.
This summer, James Clark and I traveled to this remote area near Mt. Everest with the intention of encouraging and discipling local believers, whilst sharing the gospel with those who have never heard it before. However, the story of our time in Nepal has very little to do with us and a lot to do with Jesus. The power the gospel has had in this remote part of the world points to the love of the cross more than any missionary effort. Westerners can only relate and relay so much to these indigenous people, but Jesus’ love easily crosses cultural boundaries.
As I walked out of a small hut in Chippewah I stopped in awe at the natural magnificence of the area we found ourselves in. So remote, so isolated from the rest of the world, and yet God's presence triumphed. Psalm 139 flashed through my head, "If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." Surely we serve a God who is bigger than mountains and tougher than jungles because here He was, bringing villagers from death to life. We spent time praying over Chippewah, over their church, and engaging with believers and non-believers alike.
Our guide told us his story of being kicked out of his village and banished from his family for accepting Jesus. Here we were 3 years later staying in his brother’s home and eating potatoes at his mother’s house. Some time after our guide left his family they saw him down in Kathmandu. He seemed different to them. In the villages he was a womanizer and a drunk. Here he seemed mature, loving, and completely sober. Person after person asked why he was so different. Had moving to the city simply made him grow up? “No”, he told them. “Jesus has changed my heart.” Testimony like this slowly softened his family members’ hearts until they figured Jesus must be alright if this is how He changes people. God is at work in the most adverse areas in the world, and that alone deserves immediate rejoicing.
As much as God taught us there, arriving at Chippewah on day six was not the culmination of our trip. No, this was a 21 day excursion to the border of China and back. Through jungles and rivers and over cliffs and bridges we trekked day in and day out, all whilst fighting off hoards of leaches, biting flies, and monkeys. Each time someone asked us who Jesus was we knew God was at work. We asked the Holy Spirit to push us through the exhaustion and muscle fatigue of each day so we could find someone who was ready to hear the Gospel. One day while taking a break from trekking I looked up to a village some several hundred feet above us on the other side of a river some several hundred feet below us. Our guide told us the name of the village was Pibu. "I'm glad we don't have to go up there," I said in relief as I popped another snack into my mouth. "Oh no," our guide said, "we are going there."
I became livid. The mere thought of walking all the way down to the river only to climb back up hundreds, maybe even thousands of feet was maddening. "Why would we go there?" I asked. "Honestly, who would even build a village up there?" The enemy robbed my joy at the thought of leaving my comfort zone, and having to trek that much farther. Thankfully James immediately added "We are going up there because those people need to hear the Gospel." So we trekked down for two hours and then up for another four until we finally reached the top. Beat up and exhausted from the trek, all James and I wanted was to sleep, but our guides took us around the village inviting people to come hear about Jesus. A monk took one of our guides aside and told him that we could spend the night in this village but we had to leave in the morning and never come back. Christians were not welcome here. Our guide smiled at him and told him we would be back and we would bring more people next time.
You see, everything is bigger in Nepal. The "foothills" would be most people’s mountains, the food never ends for a sixth of the price back home and you'd be shocked to find out how many people can actually fit in a jeep for carpooling. Sadly, spiritual oppression and poverty are bigger in Nepal too, and that became clear as day watching rituals being done to earn karma and children begging on the streets. Walking back to our friend’s home, we wondered whether or not anyone would come. But a big secret people don't tell you about places like Nepal is God’s faithfulness is even bigger than the mountains and oppression. Over thirty-five people crammed into a little house that night to hear about Jesus. James and I shared our testimonies and spoke of how God had changed our lives through his immeasurable love for us. We spoke of a God who loved them too. One who didn't desire sacrifices from his people but obedience and love. They had never heard that story before, and it brought them joy.
Did anyone accept Jesus? No, but thirty-five people heard His story; the most of any place we got to share during our time in Nepal. We believe God will finish the good work He started in Pibu. We believe the Holy Spirit will affect the lives of those villagers who heard His story. We believe Jesus will change their lives even if we didn't get to directly see it. We have confidence in this because as we spent time in one of the craziest mountain ranges in the world, during the most dangerous time of year, we found time and time again that God is faithful. He is faithful to provide, faithful to protect, faithful to love, faithful to endure, faithful to act and faithful to make himself known to his people.
Missions is not about us. It's about the faithful God we serve.