Namaste from Nepal. "Namaste" is the common greeting in Nepal. While it has various meanings, for those yoga enthusiasts out there "Namaste" is commonly known to mean "The spirit within me greets the spirit in you." But if you are a Christian in Nepal, you greet each other with "Jai Masi" - meaning "Praise be to the Messiah." So…
Jai Masi Venture Family!
My name is Marissa and I am a young adult at Venture. This summer, I had the privilege of trekking in Nepal with Venture's local missionary partners there. As many of you know, in 2015, Nepal received global attention when it was devastated by two major earthquakes and many other aftershocks. After the earthquakes, Venture started a Nepal relief fund to help our local partners (many of whom lost their homes, villages, family members, and congregation members) to rebuild and help their community. I was blessed to meet these partners and am excited to share what God has done through your generous gifts.
While the earthquake brought Nepal to the world spotlight, there is much more about this small nation that many are unaware of. Nepal is situated between India and China and is the home of 8 of the 10 tallest peaks in the world - Mt. Everest, Kangchenjunga, and Lotse, to name a few. Nepal has a diverse population of about 28 million people who are divided into 380 distinct people groups. According to Operation World, of these 380 groups, 93% or 354 of them are unreached by the Gospel. About 82% of the population is Hindu, 10% are Buddhist, 3.7% are Islamic, 3.5% are small indigenous religions, and a little over 1% are Christian (The Joshua Project).
In light of the earthquake and with these numbers in mind, I and my team of 3 American friends left for Nepal the beginning of this summer. The first 10 days, we trekked through the mid-western portion of the Himalayas led by two Nepali Christians who were the first and some of the only Christians in this area. As the first foreigners to ever trek this particular trail, we stopped at villages along the way to meet and minister to new friends, share the gospel, and provide medical aid. Pretty much every village we passed through was unreached, most of the people either Buddhist or Hindu. It was the first time many of them had ever heard of Jesus Christ and they were very intrigued by the idea of a good God who reached down to them in love. We stayed with families in their mud homes covered in thatched straw or correlated tin roofs and ate their regular diet of white rice and lentil soup with the occasional egg, veggies, potatoes, or noodles.
After traveling over unpaved roads by jeep, we spent the next 10 days in south Nepal – the flat portion of the country that is known for its intense heat, high crime rate, and dangerous jungles. Hinduism is predominant in this region and the caste system is highly adhered to. Our Nepali host had started a few schools and churches in untouchable villages to prevent sex trafficking and to minister to the people. We had sweet fellowship in a few of the churches, singing together, reading the word, preaching, eating a meal, and providing medical aid. The next few days we spent visiting village schools teaching proper hygiene and sanitation, providing toothbrushes and soap, telling interactive Bible stories, providing more medical aid, and playing games with the precious children. Those who had more severe conditions, we prayed over and saw God do miraculous healings.
Our last stop was in north Nepal to see Pastor Tara. His home was the epicenter of the last earthquake and the damage was devastating. His church is small and he has faced persecution in his area. The earthquake hit on a Saturday morning (Nepal’s Sabbath) during their church service. Pastor Tara lost his home, his church, his son in law, and many members of his congregation. At first, people in his community saw the timing as gods judgment on Christians, and alienated Pastor Tara. But after they saw his unexplainable self-sacrifice and service for each one of them during this time of chaos and devastation, many experienced the love of Christ and are coming to the Lord. Your contributions have provided the money for Pastor Tara to buy new land on higher, stable ground, lay a cement foundation, and buy and build a new church and home for his family and community. The funds also provided emergency shelter materials for many of the untouchable villagers who have been left without any help.
My summer in Nepal left me in speechless wonder at the power and provision of our God and of the faith of our brothers and sisters in Nepal. Continue to pray for Nepal: 1) for so many who have never heard of the Hope and Freedom that Jesus brings and 2) for our brothers and sisters who courageous love those around them and face persecution and opposition.
Jai Masi, Marissa Lee