Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nepal in a Nutshell

This past weekend I had the privilege yet again to travel outside the Kathmandu valley to another quaint village setting. At the invitation of a sister from our church, another brother and I went to preach the Gospel. What I experienced was not necessarily new, but was a stern reminder of the spiritual needs we face here in this beautiful country.

First I must mention that I feel like the most blessed person in the world to live in this part of Asia. Our family moved here about two and a half years ago. We have labored to learn the Nepali language and observe the culture in this foreign land. We have made many friends and have had many exciting adventures.We also have had our share of challenges, yet we count it a privilege to shine our lights in this spiritually dark and oppressed area. We are reminded that it is only Christ who is able to transform lives, yet we must remain committed to faithfully preaching the truth without compromise…even if we don't see immediate results. Many cults and Pentecostals have been busy influencing numerous villages throughout the country.  This past weekend, this reality was made real to me firsthand. This experience would encapsulate the Spiritual atmosphere of Nepal in a nutshell.

Just before 7 am this past Sunday, I picked up my evangelist friend Adesh on my black Bajaj Avenger 220 cc motorcycle and headed south of the city of Kathmandu.

Before we ascended into the forests covered with clouds, we could see some of the Himalayan peaks in the distance.

We then rode down into a valley surrounded by steep hills. The winding road brought us along a swift moving river that parted lush green grass and rice fields. What a breathtaking experience, that I never tire of seeing!

Over two hours later, we arrived at a little adobe structure where we had tea and chatted with the family of our Christian sister. Though they are of Tamang ethnicity, they all speak Nepali. Though most are fluent in multiple languages, many older villagers are still totally illiterate. However we met a twelve year-old girl who is studying at an English medium school nearby, but is the only one that we met that understood even a little English. We were able to easily communicate with everyone we met through Nepali - the national language.

We learned about the great needs of the village from our Christian hostess, She had been saved twenty seven years ago after seeing the great change in her husband. He had a reputation for being a drunk and beating her. The family here has been amazed at this change, yet have continued in their false religions and fear of evil spirits. Since this couple's salvation, they have grown in the Baptist church in Kathmandu. But they have been burdened for their village, as there is no church in the area.

We met a nephew who lives a kilometer away who had come to know Christ while working abroad in the country of Qatar! He has attended a Pentecostal church in Kathmandu, but is still seeking true teaching and is quite confused on some issues. We then met a native Pentecostal missionary who has been living in this village for two months. He noted how difficult it was trying to witness to people.

We had a Gospel meeting where we sang a few songs, prayed, gave some encouraging Bible verses and a Gospel message to the few family members in attendance, along with some neighbors. Others reportedly did not come for fear of the repercussion from their family members and other peers. Many people are scared of Christians and of this new God and Saviour Jesus Christ! One young lady who did come, told us about her father-in-law who wanted to attend but was very sick. We were told he was interested in being a Christian, so we went to visit him at his home.

There is a misconception about Christianity in Nepal, and we wanted to be very clear and thorough in how we presented Christ. Many only know of Jesus' power to heal, and this is their motive for wanting to be a “Christian”. They are interested in the personal benefits of this new religion but have not been confronted with their sinfulness against a holy God. When we explained the purpose of the Gospel, our friend said this was the first time he had heard this message! He said he was willing to stop beating his wife and be a Christian even if God didn’t heal him. We dug a little deeper with questions and asked if he admitted that he was a sinner. He was still confused and said, "What is a sinner?" So at this point, we gave him some helpful resources that taught about Creation and the need for Christ to save from sin.

During this time, we also observed a song book and Bibles on a table. The man's wife claimed to be a Christian because of a baptism experience. Our Christian sister pointed out to her that Salvation is through repentance and faith in Christ alone. She had yet to renounce her Hindu gods – which were on a picture hanging outside her hut – and place her faith entirely in Jesus Christ as her only Lord God. We prayed with this precious family and left, assuring that we would return again.

On a lighter note, we enjoyed some of the best food Nepal has to offer, lentils and rice served with chicken and vegetables. Everyone enjoyed the balloon animals and great friends were made for the sake of the Gospel.

Yet, we must go back - and soon! For just two years ago, a cult by the name of “Truth” has come and started a “church” in this village. About five families have already joined. They teach that as long as the people come to their weekly service and “believe in Jesus”, they can still continue to worship their false idols. This heretical syncretism is very deceptive and dangerous. Unfortunately, as our sister pointed out, they have gotten to this village before true Bible preachers have.

Though we look forward to returning to this village to water the seeds sown, I am reminded that this is merely a microcosm of a country filled with thousands of villages in a similar state. Satan has used false religion to keep people in darkness for centuries, and now is using deceivers and false teachers who use the name of Christ to keep people from coming to the light. Please pray as we rightly divide the Word of God and teach the Truth in love. We must not stray from that which the Holy Spirit is seeking to reprove and convince the world of: sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Gospel is still powerful and Jesus still saves! 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Driving a......

We have been in Nepal for 2.5 years now. For the last two years I was dead set against buying a scooter and especially bringing the family on one.

And then Luke bought a motorcycle. I began riding with him almost everyday to our language class and after the first few weeks I got used to the way the traffic moves and flows on a bike.

I started to really enjoy the freedom of not relying on a taxi. At our old house the area is more concentrated  so you could easily walk anywhere you needed to go in a matter of minutes.

We made the decision to move and I quickly found it was much more difficult to get around. To go to simple places it would cost us $7 each direction. I started considering a scooter more and more.

I spent a lot of time in prayer and consulting with others who have scooters. God gave Luke peace about he situation and the Lord showed me a verse that brought peace.

"The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord."
Proverbs 21:31

I could prepare all I wanted to, but safety is ultimately up to God.

We bought the scooter. I've had it for about 6 weeks now, and find myself absolutely loving it.

I love the ease of it, the convenience and the freedom it gives.

I never thought I would say it, but I love having it.

Now that we are teaching 3 days a week at the college, I figured out what it would have cost us in taxis to go back and forth each day and Luke and I separately since our classes aren't always at the same time.

We go back and forth 18 times to the area where the church is and where the college is in a week. It's anywhere from $2-$3 to take a taxi one way. Luke goes to his art school for our visa twice a week and that would cost $10 there and back easily. So not including grocery trip, post office, visiting friends, or just going out to eat, we are already at $56-$74 a week depending on who our taxi driver is and what price they give.

So having these vehicles has been a huge blessing and will quickly pay for themselves.

But it's not without the downside....This was from one drive from my house to my friends and back. It took just over an hour of driving, and my skirt was clean when I left. Now you know why I wear the face mask!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Getting Involved

I remember growing up, being in church, attending Vacation Bible School or even just Sunday school. We would have visitor contests all the time, which our family would undoubtedly lose because all of our friends were in church--this one or another one. As I grew older and my kids arrived in the same situation I began thinking about what was wrong with this picture.

I think we try to separate ourselves from the "world" because it is evil and scary, but the truth is we are actually isolating ourselves and our children. God wants us to "come apart and be ye separate," but he still has us in the world to make a difference.

I think we need to find ways to be involved in the community to make new friends and meet interesting different people. We need to learn how to communicate and interact with people that are different than we are, people that believe differently than we do, and people that think differently than we do. Now that we live in a country where people are either Hindu or Buddhist we have no choice but to make friends with them if we want to reach them.

Have you ever heard this question, "If you home-school your child, how will they ever learn to socialize with other kids?" While this statement is usually laughed at by home-schoolers all around, (I was home schooled my entire life.) it isn't entirely false.

If we keep our kids so sheltered from the real world, how will they ever learn to interact with people that are different than we are. We, as adults, have a difficult time with that, how can we expect our kids not to stare and ask rude questions of people at the grocery store if they never see us interacting with someone who is different than us. They learn how to treat people by watching us. And don't think they aren't watching--my 1.5 year old found a white plastic crochet needle and with a great big smile stuck it in her ear just like Daddy cleaning his with a Q-tip. They see everything.

Another thing to think about is this. If you never meet anyone outside of your church and build a relationship with them, how will you ever fulfill the great commission in your own neighborhood? If you never talk to your neighbor because they have a tattoo or because "you have nothing in common," how will they ever have a chance to hear about Jesus?

While finding people and randomly asking, "If you died today where would you spend eternity?" has worked, it is not the norm. Most people are saved because they saw a difference in someone else's life and started asking questions. It's through building relationships that we see people's lives changed. But how can we do this if we don't get out into our community and meet people.

So what are some ways we can do that?

Here in Nepal, people just go outside and sit and chat. They sit outside and drink tea and watch the world go by. One of the best things we can do is go sit next to them. Let the kids play in the street, while we sit and chat with the shop keeper. It's not easy to make time to "do nothing". But you have to remember that although these things are seemingly meaningless in the big picture of life or in light of eternity, the truth is this is how we show that we care and build relationships--simply doing what our neighbors do.

1. Join a secular sports team. But don't just drop off your kids. Doing that is like throwing them into the deep end. They need to see you interacting to know how to interact themselves. If you are around, you can supervise to make sure nothing gets out of hand, and you are showing your kids how to talk to people, how to be kind, how to be friendly to someone who is different than you are.

2. Join a 4-H club.

3. Find a group of moms that meet at the playground.

4. Story-hour at the library

5. Red-hat society

6. Community Theater

7. Join a gym

8. Play on an adult sports team

The key is finding something that meets regularly so you can build relationships with people on common ground. It gives you something to talk about and a reason to be there with them. Then friendships can happen naturally, and you will get a chance to eventually share the gospel or invite them to your church.

It's time we stop hiding from this world and get out in it. A light is only helpful if it stands in the dark.

Missing Photos

If you try to read some of the past articles I have written, you will find that most pictures have been deleted. I don't have any clue why. I have read about it in several places, but no one really has a reason, but it has happened to a lot of people. So I guess you'll have to use your imagination.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Discovery about my Children

I have four children, the oldest of which is almost nine years old. For the last eight and half years I have put a lot of stress on my self. I always thought that kids should be perfect. If they weren't perfect then the parents must be doing something wrong. They must be inconsistent in their discipline, lacking character themselves, or just plain lazy. 

Every time one of my kids would disobey, especially around other people, I would feel this horrendous guilt, inadequacy; it made me really dislike my children and dislike being around other people because I just "knew" that everyone was looking down on me. I thought that they thought I was being a horrible parent when my kids would disobey or do something foolish. 

It were as if every time I left my house I felt like we were on stage performing a play and everyone had to do everything just right, act perfectly, and always say the right thing.

Then this year I was studying the book of Ephesians when I realized something so academic, so basic. I am a sinner AND so are my kids. I was saved years ago, and had the realization that I was a sinner, but I had in word said my kids were sinners too. I knew that, but I sure didn't act like it. I expected perfection from them. When I realized that my kids were sinners and that is WHY they are not perfect all of the time it suddenly made sense and lifted a burden off my shoulders that should not have been there in the first place. 

"For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. "
Psalm 103:14

Yes, we should all train our children and teach them to obey the rules, teach them what "no" means, and what "stop" means, but kids are sinners, and on top of that they are kids. Kids are not mature, they don't know how to react correctly in all situations, they don't always share, they don't always have good manners, they like to run and play and make noise. That is part of being a kid. 

When I stopped expecting my kids to be "perfect" all the time and allowed for some grace and forgiveness in my life things really changed for me. I enjoy being with my kids and being around other people. I still struggle with having the right reaction when my child does something they shouldn't and other people are watching. I fight the thoughts "What are they thinking?" or "What do they think I should do right now?" I struggle deeply with what people think of me, and that is wrong. I should be doing what God wants, what the Bible says, and what my husband thinks is right. We must all remember not to put other people's expectations, real or imagined, in front of what God expects from us.

"But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again."

Psalm 78:38-40

I have one of "those" kids. You know, the one that always finds something to break, the one that likes to test the limits, is stubborn to no end, and likes to take things from other kids, and whack someone when he doesn't get his way. I think there is probably at least one in every family. He is the one in a family that you roll your eyes at, behind the back of course, when he comes in to your house or when you spot him on the play ground. He is the one the mother struggles with the most--thoughts of failure, confusion, always questioning how they are parenting him, doubt. I know, because I have one. Not a week goes by that I don't question everything I know in parenting. 

Part of the hard part is other people's reaction to that kid. Even though you think you secretly despise this kid when you see him, he probably knows it and so does the mom or dad. It is very discouraging. I beg you to fight those feelings. Smile widely when they walk in the door, greet them, and talk specifically to the child. Pray and ask God to help you love them even when they are unlovely. They too are sinners and are in need of you to show them God's grace through your actions. The mom and dad need your encouragement to keep trucking on and not to quit. They don't need advice, unless they ask for it specifically. They need your prayers and love. They need to feel like when they visit you that you enjoy them being there and not just looking forward to them leaving. 

I have a few people like this in my life and I enjoy being with them soooo much. When I leave I feel refreshed and ready to face the next obstacles in front of me. It is like a water hole in the desert. If you find yourself on either end of this--I have been on both sides--the parent of the stubborn child or the friend of the parent of the stubborn child, remember that we are all in need of some grace in our lives. We are ALL sinners, and no one is perfect. Try to be THAT family that loves everyone no matter what they are going through, be that watering hole for the tired parents, be the parents that remember their kids are sinners--don't expect perfection, but slowly work towards your realistic expectations.

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10