30 October 2011

He added to His Church

This past week and again tomorrow, we are doing medical clinics in poor villages. We do this kind of ministry for several reasons. (1) Because the Lord did it in His ministry. (2) Because the people have many health problems and meeting the need shows our love for them. (3) Because it gives the pastors a good opportunity to meet and talk with people, who will often welcome him into their homes thereafter (4) Because once the people have stepped inside the church and met some of the believers, it is easier for them to join a worship service. We do distribute evangelistic tracts and the pastors pray with many who are open to that, for their health issues. We do not normally preach or give an invitation, trusting the spiritual results to come slowly,probably after we are packed up and gone. Today,  my partner casually shared with me that a family has been added to the church in the place where we held a clinic a week ago. "Really?"  I thought. "That is wonderful." I listened attentively to everything he said about it. The family were or are Hindus. They came to the clinic to see the doctor, and the pastor spent some time with them and prayed. They asked questions and expressed a desire to follow Jesus. They returned today to join the worship. "Wow. That is the reason we are doing this," I thought and I started thinking of ways to share it in a report to folks in the US. I wanted to ask (but did not) how many individuals were in the family. To Americans, "family" usually means two adult and 2-3 kids, but here in Nepal, the word, "family", might mean grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. How many people can we count? This shows the benefit of the medical project to this who help us with the funding.  I wondered why my partner  did not seem quite as excited as I was. Of course, he was pleased, but he was not going to add these people to any list or "count" for his record. Why not? (1) Because interest does not equate to a new regenerated believer. We need to wait to see if the seed grows or if it gets plucked away or drys up in the sun. (2) Because this is not an uncommon event for the partner. He works and he sees God give an increase (3) Because even if the family is ten people, all saved and faithful and growing,  my partner is not going to claim credit for it. Acts 2:47. The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Monkey on the porch rail

I did not get a photo of the monkey that day, but it looked very much like this one.
One would expect that a monkey running loose in an American neighborhood would draw some attention, but likewise it is not an every day event in Nepal. Seeing monkeys in wooded areas as we drive is fairly common, about as common as seeing a deer in Virginia. But they do not usually come out of the jungle to the homes where I am living....so we all stood at the window this morning to watch as a this creature jumped from roof to porch to lattice to window grills among our house and others nearby. He was not small and cute. He was a mature male, perhaps 50-60 pounds. His face, in my opinion, was quite ugly and he did not have a happy expression. His  limbs were long and powerful. I felt no desire to have any sort of confrontation with him. He landed on our porch rail and waited for a while, looking around as if not sure what to do-- but in no way intimidated. He jumped to the neighbor's porch, causing their dog to go wild. The neighbor hurriedly captured her dog and took him inside. The monkey was certainly willing to fight for the right of passage and he would have won the battle quickly against that pooch. Monkeys are known to frequently carry rabies, so we were ready to pull our dog in as well, if he headed back towards us. A few days ago, we were in a small, one room, village church, the site of our medical clinic. Because there was a lull in patients coming and my back was aching, I went inside the church to lie down on the floor for a few minutes. It was a hot day and both doors were left standing open. Though I missed most of the words, I could hear the urgency in the Nepali voices around me. Looking up, I saw a small snake with a foot on it. I do not like snakes, but I did not feel any sense of terror. The situation seemed to be under control, and it was only a small one, a baby snake, I thought. Why all the excitement? I did wonder that a man happened to have his rubber sandal on, since all of us inside the church were bare footed. Later, I learned that the man was called in from outside BECAUSE he had his shoes on. The snake, though small, was at it's adult size and it was one of the most dangerous vipers--comparable to the King cobra, they said. It's strike is quick and it delivers a neurotoxin for which there is no need to go to the hospital for anti-venom. The victim cannot be expected to live more than a few minutes. It was only a couple feet from my head as I lay resting. We can plan and prepare and try to anticipate, but dangers still come. Perhaps the greatest threats are those from within. Our ministries seem safe and secure and all in harmony at the moment, but we have seen many threats in the past. Some of them hurt us and some were averted. Certainly more will come. it is easier to pray for what we know, than for the things we do not see coming. But please pray-- for the Lord's continuing protection over our people and our ministry.

18 October 2011

Beauty in the slums

We walked through narrow, filthy paths among the poor of the poor in Kathmandu. Makeshift shelters built of literally anything found on the streets made up a community of humanity drawn together by their common poverty. Children wore dirty clothes. They had runny noses and tangled mats of hair. Most doors, if there was a door, stood open to reveal tiny living spaces with very few possessions of any kind. How did people end up here? The answer in many cases, was that they were born here, grew up here and without skills or education, just continued on- surviving as best they could. We were told that the beggars of Nepal live here, but no one approached us with any request. In their own way, they honored the culture of Asian hospitality to a guest who was on their turf. Our partner showed us a building that was better than the rest and we ducked inside to find several rooms with ceiling high enough to stand. Rows of wooden benches lined each of three rooms. The benches were rough and fragile, like the children, but someone had spent some time and what funds were available to build them. This was a school. American children sit in classrooms filled with books, maps, educational materials of all kinds and electricity. These classrooms had almost nothing, except the benches. My partner was serving a huge task, but one that could make a real difference for these children. A few steps away from the school, we came upon another place that could make a real difference for the slum community. It was a church, newly built and amazingly beautiful. Its beauty was not in d├ęcor or furnishings. It was a very plain, one room structure. But it was clean, fresh painted, solidly built. It contained a simple pulpit, some musical instruments, a hard carpet floor covering. It was a house of worship in the middle of the slums. I felt humbly grateful to learn that Allow contributions to the slum ministry had been used to build the church and it is our privilege to be a part of this work. The Awana club is up to 90 children. These are children who formerly had nothing in life, except begging. Now, they go to school and to Awana club. The church formed from the Awana ministry. As the leaders worked with the children, it led to relationships with the parents. Praise to our Lord for what He is doing among these needy people Praise His Name that he care for these “least” of the world, many of whom have come to know Him. What we do to the LEAST of His brethren, we do to Him.

Someday, There will be a Church Here

Spoken by the Nepali leaders…. When we have the church, we will move the worship meeting there. When we have the church,there will be space for all of the village pastors to meet for training. We will have a place to hold the medical outreach here, when we have the church. We would love to have a children’s conference for all the Allow children in this area. We will do it after we have the church. We will train the teens in Maranatha Home in community outreach, after we have the church. Yes, we could do that, but there is no place to meet for a gathering like that. The church should have a concrete roof ( not a tin roof) so that we can build Sunday School rooms up there someday. A team of men will be going in January, 2012 to build this church. In the meanwhile, we need to raise $33,000 for materials and building costs. Current total in hand is $13,000. Please pray for this important project.

17 October 2011

Trisuli Advance

Allow ministry in Trisuli (Nepal) began with pastor training. Our partner began work among these people about 15 years ago, with the village evangelism strategy of teaching health, hygiene, farming, literacy which results in relationships ready to hear the gospel. As we talked, our partner could not remember how many times he had climbed the mountain by foot, before this terrible road was built. Wow. Even in the prime of my youth and fitness (now long past), I cannot imagine coming up this mountain without vehicle and—even for the Lord—I am just not sure I would ever have been willing to do it. Today the fruit of his labor includes 17 pastors/cell group leaders leading little pockets of believers throughout the area. These men cannot leave their homes and crops to attend Bible College, but they have the same hunger for it that we have seen all over Nepal. We bring the teachers to them, in short modules that they can receive and use, with more modules coming as we are able to make the trips. This summer, we took one child from each of these pastors into our sponsorship program. This will help each family, a bit, and encourage them in their volunteer ministry, as we help their child. Up the mountain we went, where I ( and Tamara with me) would meet these people and the children for the first time. I will not say that it was the worst road ever of my experience, but it was definitely in the top five. It was several hours of bumping and potholes on a narrow path with breathtaking, unprotected drops always on one side. The church was nestled along one drop as well and I took note of it, since I might need to make the walk to the toilet during the night, The air was crisp and cool and clean in contrast to the city pollution of Kathmandu. Some of the children had walked with their fathers for as much as 8 hours to meet with me. They would sleep with us in the church for the night and make the return next day. We fed them, gave prepared and packaged gifts and took the pictures needed for our program. The children settled on the floor to make a picture for their sponsors. Most are too young or too new to education to write a letter, even in Nepali. I wonder if the sponsors can know how precious those pictures are. These kids are never able to color. It was probably the first experience for most, if not all of them. The sponsorship money means that they can go to school, and have a school uniform. They will carry home new back packs filled with new Bible, notebooks, pencils, toothbrush and paste, knitted hats, bottle of vitamins, nutritious snacks. All of this, provided by sponsors. We will be holding medical clinics next week for two days and in December, another pastor training. It is a rugged area. It means forgoing the comfort of familiar foods, carrying bottled water—if you do not want to drink from the tap- sleeping in a room that comes alive with mousa during the night. (Mousa is a Nepali word, but perhaps the reader understands.) It is all so worth it, to be a part of bringing the gospel to these dear people. Wow. God lets me do this. Sue Cook

LIght and Flame Witness

Many projects that we pursue in life seem to move at a “two steps forward, one step back” rate. So it is with our children’s homes in Bangladesh. Light and Flame completed building and received 25 children just this year. This is an outreach among the “hill tribe” people, who live in a place Americans would consider mountains—but in this part of the world, they are not called mountains unless they have year round snow. I visited the home for the first time since operation began. Of the 25 children, one has not yet come because of a recurring case of scabies. He is certainly being re-infected in the place where he is now living, but if we bring him now, we will be struggling with it too. One child has moved since he was processed for the home and now cannot be found. Two were “pulled back” by relatives who decided not to release them. Almost all of those we have are orphans or “half” orphans ( one parent died). All are in various stages of malnutrition. Many of them had clothing that does not fit. One little girl had a button top with no buttons, therefore the shirt did not close across her chest. Winter is coming. We need to send funds for basic clothing, jackets, hats and shoes. It is a long and difficult walk from the mountains to a place where anything can be purchased. The partner has been busy trying to outfit them with school uniforms, notebooks and pencils—all necessary things. He also asked for $ to set up the solar powered lights that are the only option for this area. I was pleased to see that they have chickens, pigs, goats and vegetables planted. They have been in the home for only a short time, all from non-believing homes, but they know praise songs and easily joined in prayer. The house parents are doing their job. They are discipling a little group of witnesses for a place with as much spiritual need as physical. Praying that the Lord will call out many people for His Name from this small beginning.