I’ve been back from Nepal only a few days and it has not been an easy adjustment. The physical recovery is only part of the challenge. The greater one is processing everything that I experienced and trying to figure out how it all fits back into life at home. Having gone through the re-entry process a handful of times in the past, I have found that writing is helpful for me. Thus, I will continue to blog about Nepal even though I am now home. I hope it is not only therapeutic for me but also encouraging to you.
God is the main character of the Bible. The Word is a revelation of his character and actions in real time and history. That being said, God, by His grace, uses people to accomplish His purposes. As they obey Him, these people can be examples to follow. The apostle Paul said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” This is true not only of characters in the Bible but also other saints through church history. In this way, these people can be called “heroes of the faith.” In Nepal, there are countless numbers of them. Here are a few that I had the privilege of meeting.
Having been in pastoral ministry for nearly twenty years, I always have a heart for local pastors. Whether here or abroad, the life and call of a pastor is a demanding one. In Nepal, I had the privilege of meeting some of the main pastors at Gyaneshwor (NIM), the first church in Kathmandu. Pastor Robert Karthak and his brother-in-law, Pastor Dr. Rajendra Rongong (pictured far left) were pioneer missionaries and church planters who by faith followed God’s call to reach Nepal. Despite many obstacles and great persecution, these men along with a band of faithful believers, persevered over the past sixty years for the sake of the gospel. Much of the spiritual fruit currently being harvested throughout Kathmandu is the result of God’s grace planted through their years of faith and obedience.
Another pastor I providentially met in a restaurant where Sonia and I were enjoying lunch. Pastor Babu (center) has a wonderful testimony that includes coming to Christ after searching out various religions in college, adopting two girls and pastoring a local church that follows his lead in speaking and living out the gospel. His passion and joy is contagious. It was through and with Pastor Babu that we were able to purchase and deliver supplies for the village. He is constantly on the phone tending to the growing needs of his flock and organizing relief support for the villages.
Another thing that encouraged me was meeting the next generation of pastors that God is raising up to continue in the footsteps of pastors like Rajendra and Babu. I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Arbin of Crossway Community Church. He is a man deeply committed to making disciples who make disciples. I met young pastors in Gyaneshwor as well as in the village we visited (pictured on the right). There is great hope for the continued multiplication of the church in Nepal as the Spirit continues to lead others through faithful men like these.
The reason I originally came to Nepal was to speak at the annual conference of an international missionary organization. It was a privilege to serve nearly a hundred missionaries from all over the world. They are followers of Jesus who left their families, their friends and their homelands all for the sake of answering His call to reach Nepal. They are truly people who walk by faith and not by sight.
Halfway through the trip, I got a 24-hour stomach bug. I was miserable. The missionaries were very empathetic because this is commonplace for them. Whether illness or weariness or loneliness, the challenges are ongoing in the life of a missionary. I never sensed any bitterness or despair in any of them but I know it must be easy to feel forgotten or unappreciated when serving so far from home. Like pastoral ministry, being a missionary is a call that often comes at a high cost. The suffering can be great but the glory is as well. Despite numerous setbacks, the faith of the people we met was deep. Tested, but deep. There is no sense of regret in their voices. Joy marks their obedience. They were inspiring.
You don’t have to be a pastor or a missionary to be a hero of faith. All you need to do is be faithful to whatever God has called you to. That’s what the men and women I met in Nepal have done. By their faith and through their faithfulness, God has called them, humbled them, used them and blessed them all for His glorious purposes. May the same be true of us here in America that, like the Nepali church, we too might see a rapid and powerful growth of the gospel!
If you know a missionary in the field or a pastor in your church, let me invite you to send him or her a note of encouragement and/or a gift of support today. Small things make a big difference. Even heroes need help!