To Nepal and Back Again
On Saturday, October 27th I set out from Stillwater Regional Airport to travel half way around the world and back again. Here are some of the highlights and some reflections on my time there and back.
MINISTRY IN NEPAL
After spending a brief time in Kathmandu, we traveled by car to Pokhara, Nepal where we met for a church planter’s retreat. There were an estimated 200 pastors and their wives as we packed at least 14 sessions of teaching and preaching into two days. My friend, Curtis Cook, taught four sessions and I taught three sessions. Several others from different churches taught the other sessions. We taught on topics like: The heart and character of the pastor, our weakness and power as we spread the message, making disciples, etc.
On Friday, I flew back to Kathmandu with a Nepali brother, Simson. He and another brother, Uddhav, took me souvenir shopping, and then we went and ate some KFC that had a Nepali flavor to it.
On Saturday, I went and gathered with Pastor Simson’s local church and was privileged to preach to brothers and sisters and take the Lord’s Supper with them. They showed me the progress of their new building that was still under construction. We ended our time together in the house of Uddhav, for a very mild Nepali dinner. They then took me to the airport for my flight to Munich, Germany.
Not knowing what to fully expect from the Nepali believers, I was very encouraged with what I discovered. The Nepali pastors and their wives were very kind and appreciative of our speaking to them the word of God. They were very eager to learn, and very affirming of the teaching they received. I do believe it extended beyond some sort of reverence for the American Christians, but rather they were glad to sit for long stretches to hear the word of God taught and proclaimed.
I was particularly pleased by what I witnessed when I gathered with Pastor Simson’s church on Saturday Morning. At the end of our time together we took the Lord’s Supper. This is the custom of this particular local church to receive communion on the first gathering of every month. When we took the bread and the cup, I noticed two young men who do did not participate. I asked Pastor Simson why they did not join us. He told me that they had not yet been baptized and they were presently a part of a class on baptism, and that until they were baptized, they did not take communion. I was highly encouraged by this thoughtful instruction and adherence to biblical principles.
I was also encouraged by the evangelistic zeal of the Nepalese brothers and sisters and their multiplication of churches. The goal of the particular group we met with was to plant 100 churches in 10 years. In under five years, this group has planted almost 80 churches. Now to be clear, they aren’t the only Christians in Nepal, and there is a lot of Hinduism and other godless forces at work, but what I witnessed was gospel-depth and gospel-zeal among the brothers and sisters I interacted with.
THREE DIFFERENT CHURCHES IN A WEEK
On Sunday, October 28th, I gathered with Hope Fellowship in Cambridge, Massachusetts and saw a vibrant church and heard a biblical and edifying sermon from the book of Esther.
On Saturday, November 3rd, I gathered with a local Nepali church and heard much praying and singing – that I did not understand, since I don’t speak Nepali. I saw them give, though I suspect they didn’t have much. I preached God’s word through an interpreter and we took the Lord’s Supper.
On Sunday, November 4th, I gathered with a local Arabic Church in Munich, Germany. Severely jet-lagged, and understanding none of what was being said, since I don’t speak Arabic, I know these things: They prayed to the same Lord of the other two churches. They sang together about Jesus. They preached and taught from God’s holy word. They gave to the work of ministry, and they took the Lord’s Supper together, remembering the body broken and the blood poured out for all who would believe.
This was an eye-opening experience as I was reminded that the gospel of Jesus Christ knows no restrictions of language or geo-political borders. The gospel must go to all the nations, and despite language and cultural barriers, it will not be contained until the task of the Great Commission is finished. These three congregations, though as different as could be in some ways, were no different in the most important ways. They worshiped the same God, using the same means because of the true word.
These three different churches were not so different.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS AND REFLECTIONS
- The traffic in Nepal is crazy scary. Whether in a car or on the back of a motorcycle, despite the confidence of the driver as he weaved in and out of traffic, I feared for my life on more than one occasion. I kept that to myself though and just prayed a lot.
- The food in Nepal is not for me. Uddhav, if you are reading this, the food we had in your home was the best I had all week. KFC was a close second.
- I thank God for the local church I belong to. They are gracious to be so supportive of a trip like this in which I missed two Sundays. I think it is valuable for me to be a part of missions since we are a church that heavily engages in missions, and I believe Eagle Heights recognizes this and supports their pastor going. I am also very grateful for the financial assistance I received.
- I was encouraged by our co-workers and the disciplined evangelism they are doing among Arabs in Munich. They go out every week into the city to strike up gospel conversations. They are also members of an Arab Church. I was very encouraged by our time together.
- I love my friend, Curtis Cook. Curtis invited me to go along and asked me to teach with him. One of the highlights of the trip for me was spending time with him and learning from him as he interacted with and taught the Nepali brothers and sisters. Curtis is truly a gift to me and I thank God for him.
- Dachau was sadly surreal. If you don’t know, this was one of the main prisoner/concentration camps for the Nazis during WWII. Located just outside of Munich, the Nazis took an old munitions factory and around 1933 turned it into a prison camp for those who opposed the state. Later all kinds of people were sent there, including: Jews, Poles, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic Priests,, Russian POWs, etc. Over 200,000 people were there at one time or another and an estimated 41,500 people died there. The camp was built to house around 6,000, but closer to the end of the war, there were as many as 60,000 held there. The atrocities committed there against people who were created in the image of God is a stark reminder of what the human heart is capable of in a fallen world. The Nazis humiliated, beat, starved, executed and experimented on people in this camp. The cruelty is hard to fathom.
- I have had enough of airports and airplanes for a while. Though I suppose it is better than being on a boat for months at a time.
- I missed my family fiercely and I thank God for my wife. I saved the best for last. My wife insisted I go on this trip. She supported me and told me they would be fine without me. She was so encouraging. And I missed Lacey and the kiddos. God was gracious to bring me home to the people I love the most.
THE TRAVEL LOG
Leg 1: Stillwater to Dallas and Dallas to Boston (Saturday, October 27th)
Leg 2: Boston to Doha, Qatar (Sunday, October 28th) and Doha, Qatar to Kathmandu, Nepal (Tuesday, October 30th) – From Kathmandu we traveled 5-6 hours by car to Pokhara, Nepal.
Leg 3: Kathmandu, Nepal to Doha Qatar (Saturday, November 3rd) and Doha, Qatar to Munich Germany (Sunday, November 4th)
Leg 4: Munich, Germany to Frankfurt German and Frankfurt, Germany to Dallas, Texas and Dallas, Texas to Stillwater, Oklahoma (Tuesday, November 6th)
Total time on airplanes: 49 hours
Total time in airports on layovers: Way too long