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My Mission to Nepal

November 6, 2016

tims blogJai Masih Ki! (Praise Christ!)

A month has passed since I wrote asking for prayers for my mission to Nepal. Having been home now for about ten days, I am happy to report that by the grace of God we had a very successful mission.

There are many people to thank, but let me say dhanyabad in particular to the brother who organized this mission and served as my chief interpreter, Sabdong Tamang. It was a pleasure to work with Sabdong and I pray we are granted many more occasions together.

Getting There

Things certainly did not start out well. Two days before my flight, my car was rammed from behind while I waited at a stoplight. Thankfully my son Brandon and I were not hurt, and the other driver’s insurance company was quick to act and they arranged for Nelly to have a rental car while I was away. The financial settlement was not enough to replace the car outright but it definitely helped.

We held our weekly fellowship on Saturday night, and I left for Nepal on Sunday morning. It took two flights to get to Chicago where I met up with my sister Kei. From there we flew fourteen hours to Abu Dhabi, and another four hours to Kathmandu. We arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport about 8:30 PM. It took almost two hours to get our visas, get through passport control, and collect our bags. Inside the terminal I sent a text to Sabdong to tell him we’d arrived, and to find out the name of our hotel to put on the arrival card. Thanks to spell correct on his phone, the “Bethel Guest House” was renamed the “Brothel Guest House.” Welcome to Nepal!

The Mission Itself:

Nepal is divided into five "Regions" – Far West, Midwest, West, Central and East. These five regions are subdivided into fourteen "Zones." We spent the first week in the Far West Region, first in Kanchanpur in the Mahakali Zone, and then in Kailali in the Seti Zone. The second week was spent in the Central Region in the Bagmati Zone, first in Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal) and then in Lalitpur. Mount Everest (known as Sagarmāthā in Nepal) is in the East Region in the Sagarmatha Zone. Maybe next time!

nepal mission

11-14 October, Kanchanpur

new samrat hotel On Tuesday we flew from Kathmandu to the Dhangadhi airport in the Far West Region. A taxi took us to the New Samrat Hotel in Kanchanpur. Along the way our driver had to negotiate his way past the many cows blocking the roads. Cows are sacred in the Hindu religion and protected by law.

We stayed at the New Samrat through Sunday morning. The owner of the hotel, Sanjay Tamang (center) and his staff were very gracious. The rooms were clean and the ceiling fans kept the air moving — at least when there was electricity. During this time of year this region is uncomfortably warm, but not so different from East Africa or even here in Louisiana. The mosquitos were few but the earwigs (pincher bugs) were everywhere.

But wow, Nepali food is terrific. The spices are more subtle than in Indian food and I am ashamed to say that I often ate far past the point of satisfaction just because everything tasted so good.

In Kanchanpur I taught at the Mahima Church pastored by Dil Bahadur Tamang. It took me a little while to get used to teaching in my socks but no one wears shoes into the church and the congregation sits on the floor. On Wednesday and Thursday I taught two morning sessions followed by lunch. After the meal we had an open question-and-answer period, and then I taught one more session to end the day. On Friday, I taught the Youth Fellowship, also followed by a question-and-answer period. On Saturday (the day for worship) I taught the weekly service.

I handled each session the same way. I have an arsenal of teachings in my notebook from the different seminars I teach and individual sermons but in Nepal I usually did not know what subject I'd speak on until just a few minutes before the session began. Almost always the construction of the lesson was new to me, here a little and there a little. But I am familiar with how the Lord guides me and it was exciting to follow his lead. Because of the Lord's strong hand I felt very sure that I was speaking to the heart of the people there.

Kanchanpur was a grand introduction to doing ministry in Nepal. The Christians were easy to teach – attentive and hungry for spiritual enlightenment. Their hospitality was beyond lovely. Honestly, if the mission had ended in Kanchanpur I would have gone home satisfied!

Kailali

moon boon villa After church on Saturday we drove to our next location in Kailali stopping for lunch along the way. In Kailali I taught in a meeting room connected to the guest house where we lodged, the Moon Boon Villa. The family that ran the place (photo left) was delightful and the rooms had air conditioners — and sometimes they even worked! Just like in Kanchanpur, I would teach in the mornings and after lunch handle questions and teach one more time. Pastor Chetraj Joshi (photo below) organized this segment of the mission. This is what he had to say after the mission:

moon boon villa

“The Far West region of Nepal is a mostly backward place in every aspect of development. Most students go to capital city of Kathmandu for higher learning. Almost all Nepali businesses, medical treatment centers, etc. are focused in the Central region of Nepal. This was long the case in the spread of Christianity also. But now the Kailali district of Far West Nepal is one of the most fastest growing areas of Christian growth in Nepal. But most organizations are focused to establish Bible schools and seminars teaching programs in Kathmandu and its surrounding areas. Meanwhile, our Christians and churches are lacking mature food from the Scriptures. Ninety-percent of pastors in our area have not trained in seminary. What they learn is through their own study of the Bible and in conversations with each other.

People were blessed to hear Pastor Tim Sullivan's simple yet exact and pure biblical teaching. That was a great need for us and it will surely help our new Christian leaders to teach their followers. Pastor Tim your teachings were very helpful for them to grow themselves and lead others. I am very excited for continuing work in Nepal with brothers like Sabdong and you."

Kathmandu

orchid guest house

On Tuesday morning, Sabdong, Kei and I flew back to Kathmandu. Kei and I checked into the Orchid Guest House when the place Sabdong booked originally for us became unavailable. The Orchid turned out to be our favorite place of all. Of course, the cool Kathmandu evenings and the hot showers gave it an unfair advantage over the other guest houses — that and the fresh breads baked daily by the owner. That is Dinesh Shakya and his family in the photo. Thirteen-year-old Shreeja (far left) is a talented and award-winning painter, and I am now a proud owner of one of her pieces.

That evening we went to the local hospital to visit Sabdong’s son and nephew who had been injured in a motorcycle accident. Thankfully, their injuries were not permanent — except for the missing teeth.

On Wednesday morning I taught at the Nepal Bible College in Kathmandu. Once again, the receptiveness of the students was a great blessing to me. The entire service was in English (one of the school rules) and they sang a hymn that I know Laura Flores from my home church would have appreciated: "As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after me." I wish I recorded it. The guitar part was simpler and much more pleasant than what I do at home.

We spent the rest of the morning sightseeing. The effects of last year’s earthquake could be seen on every corner. We walked through the Swayambhunath (also known as the Monkey Temple), and shopped for trinkets in the downtown marketplace. Then we had a nice lunch with a group of Bible college teachers after their annual planning meeting.

On Thursday and Friday, I taught “If Ye Do These Things, Ye Shall Never Fall” at the Bethel IPA church, pastored by Tik Magar (unfortunately he was away on a trip to India). Two of the teachers we had met on Wednesday helped with the translation.

An amazing thing happened that morning. There was a little bit of confusion to begin the meeting. Sabdong had gone to attend to his son at the hospital and I wasn't quite sure who was in charge. My opening session was awful and I felt like I wasn't making any connection at all. We took a break. Then a young minister of music named Manish Shrestha led a song service between sessions. He brought life and focus to the room. In all my years, I have never seen anyone do a finer job.

So often by the time the praise and worship segment is over, the congregation is either dulled by too many songs, worn out from all the jumping around, or hyped up like they've had too much caffeine. But not in this case. After this song service, the people were enlivened and ready to listen to the Word of God. Let me say it again. I have never seen anyone anywhere do a finer job! In my heart I know that this young man saved the meeting. I told the congregation that it was a good thing I did not pastor a church in Kathmandu or I would surely try to steal him away! And as it turned out, the teaching of “If Ye Do These Things, Ye Shall Never Fall” went very well.

Saturday was church day, and we attended the Christ Model Church home fellowship pastored by Sabdong. I taught on the book of Philemon, partly because Paul addresses this letter "to the church in thy house." It was great to see his son home from the hospital and the nephew was scheduled to be released soon after.

Latipur

On Sunday and Monday I taught at the Thecho United Church in Latitpur, pastored by Hira Kaji Maharjan. Pastors and leaders from several surrounding churches attended as well, and each day a different group of students from a nearby Bible college joined the class. On the second day they performed a beautiful dance. Once again the participants were very receptive and attentive.

Tuesday was our last morning in Nepal and we would fly out that afternoon. I'd been scheduled to teach for three hours at the Bethel Bible School. To be honest, by this time I was feeling the effects of the mission and I was tempted to find an excuse for a morning of rest. But this meeting turned out to be perhaps the most enjoyable of all! The students were very easy to teach and afterwards I asked a few of them to tell the story of how they ended up in Bible college. My sister and I were deeply moved by the testimonies we heard.

sabdong tamang In conclusion, I will let Sabdong speak for himself:

"This Nepal mission trip was blessed from far Western Kanchanpur, and Kailali to central region of Kathmandu, and Lalitpur. The people were taught different subjects based on how to live a Christian life and move forward through faith in God. These teachings were good whether the hearer was a pastor, leader or believer. Even complicated subjects were taught in very easy way that everyone understood. Everyone said these were very good teachings and we need such teachings again and again. I would say that Pastor Tim is called for teaching by God."

God willing, I hope to return to Nepal in the late spring of 2017 in a mission to the east side of Kathmandu closer to the Himalayas, an area that Pastor Sabdong says is fertile ground for my kind of teaching. I must say that for me, Nepal has been the best marriage of minister, message, and audience to date. Pastor Chetraj told me that Nepalese people are known for their courage (how interesting that, along with the Maasai, my ministry has been to two peoples who have that distinction!) and that once they are instructed they will bring the Gospel into the unreached areas of Tibet and China as well. I am very excited about this new door the Lord has opened and I pray that I will not disappoint God or my fellow ministers in my fulfillment of his expectation of me.

Thanks everyone for your contributions both spiritual and financial that helped make this mission possible. Kei took almost 1,000 photos so I hope you enjoy the few I posted.

In the Service of His Majesty, the King of kings,

Pastor Tim

 

Click HERE to see the photos.

 


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