Orange County Girl Meets Kathmandu, Nepal

Light in the Darkness

Nepal is an absolutely beautiful place; not only is the landscape stunning, but the people are warm, loving, and hospitable. Despite being beautiful, Nepal is easily one of the darkest places spiritually I have ever been to. Each morning I wake up to Hindus ringing their bells to wake up their gods. Walking through the city, every other person has a tika on their forehead, symbolizing their visit to temple that day. On Saturdays, you can see hundreds of people worshipping by stringing thread around certain trees, the trees representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. There are so many lost people in this great city.

Usually I don’t have great discernment to the demonic forces around, but this week I definitely do. I want to tell you a little bit about the Hindu festival of Dashain, currently happening right now.

Dashain is the longest (15 days) and greatest of all the Hindu festivals. The festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Individuals in the city flood back to their villages to celebrate with their families. At least 1/3 of the Kathmandu population travels outside of the valley during this period, and many shops are closed for the duration of Dashain. You may be thinking, “that doesn’t sound too bad’, but I only wish that was the end of my explanation.

In Hindu mythology, the demon Mahishasura had created terror in the devaloka (the world of gods), but Durga killed the demon. The first nine days of Dashain symbolizes the battle which took place between the different manifestations of Durga and Mahishasura. The tenth day is the day when Durga finally defeated him.

The most important days of the festival are the first, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth. With each day, different ceremonial rituals are to be practiced.

The eighth day, which occurs tomorrow, is called the ‘Maha Asthami’. This is the day when the most demonic of Goddess Durga’s manifestations, the blood-thirsty Kali, is appeased through the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of buffaloes, goats, pigeons and ducks in temples throughout the nation. Blood, symbolic for its fertility, is offered to the Goddesses. Appropriately enough, the night of this day is called Kal Ratri (Black Night).

During this past week, the spiritual warfare and demonic forces have been noticeable, especially at night. It’s really hard to describe, but there is just a blanket of oppression and a heaviness on my heart. The spiritual warfare for myself and my friends here has noticeably increased this past week.

As tomorrow approaches (the festivities will begin around 6pm your time October 1), please be in prayer with me.

  • Pray for those who have been lost to the ruler of this earth
  • Pray for the Christians who have returned to their Hindu families during this time. Pray they would be a light and not fall into the darkness
  • Pray that newer believers would not be overcome by fear, but they would understand that perfect love casts out fear and that we can claim victory in the name of Jesus
  • Pray that we as a Bible College could be the city set on a hill that cannot be hidden
  • Pray for the hundreds of Christian youth camps going on right now, that they would fall more in love with Jesus
  • Pray for the sleeping giant to rise up in Nepal and, through the Holy Spirit’s power, turn this Hindu Kingdom into God’s kingdom

The Ordinary Extraordinary Life.

It recently just dawned on me that I don’t write in this blog as frequently as I did in the beginning of my adventures here. When I first arrived in Nepal, life was exciting and everything was new. Therefore, I had tons of different stories to share. I have one friend that constantly asks me to tell him stories of life here, and sadly, I never can think of any.

Life, as I know it, has become ordinary for me in Nepal. I don’t live an extraordinary missionary life in a human perspective, I live a normal human life, just in another country.

Monday through Friday I wake up, do my devotions, then start my work in the office around 10 am. Most days I stay in the office working on my computer until 4pm. Some days I head out into town to run errands or meet to have lunch with a friend, but most days I just stick around the campus. Once a week I go to a girl’s hostel and fellowship with high-school aged girls who love the Lord. Two or three times a week I’m involved in worship ministries. Once night comes, then I cook dinner for myself and then spend the rest of my night by myself, either reading or watching a movie. Only once or twice a week am I out with friends at night.

So, basically, this is my life: devotions, office job, discipleship, worship ministries, food, friends and fellowship. Maybe you’re thinking, “Huh, that sounds a lot like my life.” That’s exactly the point I want to drive across: you are just as much of a missionary as I am, as long as you are willing to be used in the way God wants to use you. 

Missionary life is often over-dramatized in the American church. While many missionaries live in the bush in the middle of nowhere, there are also many (like myself) that live in cities, have WIFI, access to good food, etc. Does that make me less of a missionary because I am not sacrificing as much? It’s really easy for the enemy to lie to me and say yes, I’m not as much of a missionary, but I know that’s the enemy speaking. Yes, there is difficulties to living in Nepal or in any foreign country, but there’s also great difficulties to living in the United States as well.

So what is a missionary? A missionary is someone who carries out a mission or command. What are our commands as followers of Jesus Christ? I see three main ones:

  1. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
  2. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
  3.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19)

Friends, we can be missionaries anywhere. The key to being a successful missionary is to be solely directed and sent out by the Holy Spirit. You see this all over the book of Acts. Sometimes, God sends us to the uttermost parts of the earth. Other times, He sends us to our neighbors, our work places, our families, etc. Just because you aren’t sent out to the nations doesn’t make you less of a missionary. Just because I have been sent to Nepal doesn’t make me more of a missionary. What makes us missionaries is being obedient to the Holy Spirit in every aspect of our lives. Our lives may be ordinary in human terms, but in reality they are extraordinary because we have the privilege of being servants of Christ and fulfilling His commands.

This has been something that has constantly been on my heart, especially since I have been thinking a lot about the future and life back in America. I hope this encourages you as much as it has encouraged me. God is proud of you for being obedient to where He has called you for this season.

I want to end with a quote from Oswald Chambers “My Upmost for His Highest” devotional.

“Jesus said to them again, ’. . . As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'” (John 20:21)

Into the Mountains We Go…

It was a perfect day for a motorcycle ride. I wasn’t sick, and the weather was just right. Our journey began at 8 am, first making our way though the bustling streets of Lalitpur and Kathmandu. The Hindus were out early, as they are every Saturday, worshipping through the ringing of bells, placing tikkas on their foreheads, and roping string around certain ‘holy’ trees. Once we ventured across town, the roads went from smooth to choppy, the sounds turned from horns to animals, and the scenery changed from buildings to landscape.

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The first full view of the mountains took my breath away. The mountains were vibrant green, covered with corn fields and rice fields. The way the rice fields were staggered on the mountainside reminded me of the shire haha. The air was fresh, not filled with smog. As we ascended the mountain, the scenery became even more spectacular. My head was on a swivel, trying to take in all I was seeing. Hard-working men and women were in the fields cultivating their crops. Children were playing football in the streets. Families were gathering in front of their shops for breakfast and tea. Buses filled with people inside and on top were voyaging up the mountain. It’s one thing to experience Nepal in car, but it’s another thing to experience Nepal from the back of a motorcycle with all senses heightened. 

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The higher we ascended, the cooler the temperature. For the first time in months, I began to actually feel cold! It was amazing. Even more amazing were the waterfalls. In the Kathmandu Valley, there is a great shortage of water. Not in the mountains. Water was gushing from the hills, trickling through the streets. Several times we drove through part of the waterfall. How many people can say that?After an hour and a half of riding, we stopped for a typical Nepali breakfast: chura, chana, sel roti and doodh chiya. Made to perfection. As we sat in the little shop, a cloud passed right through the window, sending a chill with it.

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After another half hour ride, we finally reached the church. Technically, we reached a little shop and were thoroughly confused. Jay guided us through the shop, down two flights of stairs, and into a small room: the church. There were about 10 people sitting in a circle on the floor, waiting for the service to start. The leader welcomed everyone and worship began. Men, women, and children alike joined together to worship the Lord through their voices, drums, and tambourines. They lifted their voices in prayer and thanksgiving. Jay brought forth the message: John 11. After the study we were told that though this congregation was small, they were great in faith. Many walked two hours up to hill to get to church that day, a thought definitely convicting to the spirit. It was such a blessing to fellowship with that body of believers. 

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As we journeyed back down the mountain, we stopped for some lunch. In Kathmandu Valley, fish is somewhat of a delicacy because you cannot get it fresh. This fact is not truth in the mountains. The area we visited is known for their fresh, delicious trout. Thoug h I do not like the taste of fish whatsoever, it was still fun to see the waiter catch our fish in the stream with a net, kill it with a metal rod by bashing its head, and then turning the slimy fish into a delicious fish curry (delicious to everyone else haha). Though the fish was skinned, it was not deboned nor decapitated; apparently the head the best tasting part of a fish: eyes and everything.

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Needless to say, it was the perfect Saturday getaway.10609698_10152295081138857_5980511205849166635_n        1926253_10152295081153857_1881429027803690427_o

The Ministry of Presence

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”
                                                                       – Henri Nouwen

These past few weeks, I’ve been learning how important the ministry of presence is. Just being with the people. Sitting. Fellowshipping. Breaking bread. Drinking tea. The American mentality is to ‘go go go’ and accomplish tasks. That’s a ‘successful ministry’. I’ve found myself measuring my ministry here to those standards, and every time I fall short and begin to feel guilty. Guilty for not doing what I was sent over to do, guilty for taking people’s money to be here, etc. The enemy is pretty good at making missionaries feel worthless and unused. 

It’s so hard to translate to people back home what ministry really looks like here. At the end of the week or month, I can’t really say “I accomplished this or that”. Maybe for a few administrative things. Rather, I can tell you who I had dinner or tea with, who I jammed with, who I watched a movie with. I can tell you about each person I talk with… their stories, their burdens, their prayer requests.

We must measure our success of ministry according to Biblical standards. Yes, there is a time to go and share. Paul’s ministry revolved around exposing the truths of the Gospel. Peter was a bold evangelist. Yet, look at the ministry of Jesus. Much of Jesus’ ministry in Luke’s Gospel revolves around food; He knows how to use meal times well to build relationships and to share his good news. The cook in me absolutely loves John 21:12 – Jesus made breakfast for his disciples. Does that mean I can use food as a means of ministry? Absolutely. 

I praise the Lord for the people God has brought in my life here. I love continually growing in friendship, and in the midst of that, growing in the Lord together. It’s not a ministry I can really take a picture of or give a statistc, but it’s definitely a ministry that will be etched upon my heart and mind forever. 

Spreading the Gospel Through the Chains of Government

These past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with different missionaries who are here serving in Nepal. They all come from different places, have different styles of ministry, but one common denominator: proclamation of the Gospel to this dark nation. Growing up in the Calvary circle, especially in my church, I’ve always associated missions with evangelism. Don’t get me wrong, evangelism is incredibly important. I’ve just been learning that sometimes there needs to be different ways to spread the Gospel, especially in a culture such as Nepal.

I have met a lot of people who are in Nepal doing “business as missions”. You may think, “What? That’s weird. Why don’t they just do missions as missions? Sharing the gospel on the streets? Discipleship? Working in the slums?” Well, let me tell you why.

For centuries, Nepal was dubbed the “Hindu Kingdom” of the world. Christianity or any other ‘religions’ were not allowed. Missionaries began to enter Nepal in the early 1950s, but engaged in development work, education and social service such as health care. While conversion was never banned, proseletyzing with the aim of converting was illegal and the Christian organizations who entered Nepal followed a philosophy of witnessing by example rather than evangelizing.

In 2007, Nepal became a secular state, and Christians began coming out of the closet, so to speak. Nepalis were allowed to say they followed Jesus Christ without harsh persecution. They could celebrate Easter freely and proclaim Jesus has risen through the streets. Missionary activity has increased every year since 2007, and churches and Bible Colleges are constantly springing up all over Nepal. Now is the time to reap the harvest.

Despite these huge steps, there still remains a lot of closed activity concerning Christianity in Nepal, especially for foreigners. Proselytization (the act of converting someone to a religion or opinion) remains illegal in Nepal. These activities are punishable by fines, imprisonment, or, for foreigners, expulsion. Just a month ago, a Nepali pastor was placed in jail because he was baptizing a member of the church in public. Though ‘evangelism’ is prohibited, personal conversion is allowed.

There are no official foreign missionaries in Nepal. In order to stay in the country longer than 5 months, missionaries need to 1) start a business and gain a business visa 2) go to school and gain a study visa 3) find a spouse and gain a marriage visa. haha. Going to school eats up a lot of time. I’m really not looking forward to it. haha. Not everyone finds a spouse here, so this is why ‘business as missions’ is huge in Nepal. And it’s working.

People who want to do missions in Nepal come in and establish businesses that ‘give back to the community’: urban development. They hire Nepalis, train them in certain skills, and through the business share the love of Christ with them. It’s not evangelism. It’s ‘work training’. I’ve heard so many stories of Nepalis coming to Christ through their jobs and seeing their bosses’ love for them and for the Lord. Once they become saved, the boss (aka missionary), begins to disciple them and train them in the Word, which was their vision all along. Eventually, they send the hired workers out to establish their own companies or go back to their own villages to share what they have learned, practically and spiritually. Beautiful, isn’t it? Even if these laws weren’t in place, Nepal is such a relationship-oriented culture anyways that this is way more effective than someone standing on the corner preaching the Gospel.

I so wish I could share specific stories of people and companies that I have encountered, but unfortunately it’s not safe to do so over the internet. Doing so would raise the risk of them being found out by the government, which raises the risk of them being sent back home. I’ll be honest, me posting stuff about the Bible College start is a huge risk to the college. Most Bible Colleges here don’t post anything to the internet; rather, they spread information via word of mouth. But, I have faith that God will protect this little blog. Haha.

If you would like to know more about the ‘business as missions’ organizations and how you could get involved, please, send me an email. I know they would love the prayer support. You would be truly surprised how many clever ways the Gospel is being spread.