This past week I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Nepal again. I was invited to speak at a youth leader conference for Young Life Nepal. First off, I would like to say thank you to all my Nepalese friends for giving me the opportunity to be there and teach. Joining me was my friend Scott. We had the privilege to teach on such topics as the Heart of a Leader, Basic Counseling for a Youth Leader, and Sustainability of a Youth Leader. These are just a few of the topics at the four day conference. My favorite part of the week was spending our free time listening to people talk about their experience meeting the Lord. Every story was unique and powerful. God is certainly moving in a powerful way in Nepal.
On our last night we spent the evening sharing a meal with the Young Life team. What a privilege it has been to have been walking with this crew for four years now. I enjoyed spending the evening chatting and laughing with good friends. It was truly evidence for me that despite cultural, language and even racial differences there is one Father drawing us together for his greater purpose. I want to see Nepal transformed just as much as my own town. Knowing that they are both being simultaneously transformed for God’s glory brings so much joy and hope.
The future for Nepal is unknown at this point. Right now the country is constantly under political strikes as the details of a newly formed government structure is hashed out. We will continue to walk with Young Life and their efforts to bring the Gospel to the nation. We will also continue to walk with the young trekking company as it grows to a place of sustainability. Our prayer and task is not just to build a company but an economy. The dream is to build something that will last long into the future and that will leave a legacy for youth leaders to follow in for generations. Please pray with us for Nepal, a beautiful yet broken country.
Last week Bill and I had the privileged of visiting with Young Life Philippines. It was such a pleasure to be with these energetic leaders for a whole week. Many people don’t know this, but Young Life is alive and well in the Philippines. There are 14 staff, over 80 volunteers and 10 clubs throughout the islands reaching thousands of kids each month. Young Life has existed in the Philippines for somewhere around 40 years. Pretty incredible, huh! I was so encouraged to see the passion and dedication these leaders had for reaching out to young people who don’t know Jesus Christ. You guys are rocking it, keep on going!
Our purpose there was working with something we call the Asian Institute of Youth Ministry (AIYM). We are in the beginning stages of developing this ministry. It is our own version of a traveling seminary. Nexus has committed to doing four sessions in the Philippines over a two year period. There is a session every six months and each session consists of two courses. The session that Bill and I just finished was session 2 out of 4. We’re half way there! Bill taught on spiritual development using “The Way of Ascetics” by Tito Colliander and I did an introduction to ecclesiology course.
As we wrapped up our courses we received a lot of great feedback. The general consensus was a gratefulness for a deeper theological understanding that will enhance their ministry. They also told us how encouraged they were that we would invest in them and their ministry at this level. We were told that no one has brought this level of training to them yet. Well, we believe in you guys and what you are doing, anything we can do to help you bring the Kingdom to young people is what we are all about!
For over five years my good friend Hom has had a dream of a trekking company in Nepal that might support his ongoing youth work. This month that dream finally came true with the birth of Nepal Outdoor Adventures (NOA). I have been working together with Hom for the past several years to make this dream a reality. Last year I went to Nepal with a group of friends with the vision of bootstrapping this company. We made significant progress and it was a great trip. This time around we were able to finish the job completely. Hom told me that he was so thankful to God for the completion of this company. Five years has been a long time for Hom to wait but God is faithful and fulfilled the vision that he gave Hom. It has been a privilege for me to walk alongside Hom in this process and learn about building a small company in another country.
It has also been a privilege for me to bring along some friends from the US (two years in a row now!) to meet the Nepali people I so dearly love. Not only was visiting Annapurna Base Camp an incredible experience but seeing the faith lived out by our Nepali friends was definitely life changing. Everyone who joined this trip agreed that it was something that they will never forget.
Our journey began in Denver, CO. Five flights and 40 hours later we finally reached Pokhara, Nepal. After resting a bit and seeing the local town we headed to the base of the Himalayas to start our trek. Our guides took us on the classic Base Camp route in the Annapurna Sanctuary region. The days were hard, there is no doubt, but were blessed with some of the most incredible scenery that this planet has to offer. Along the way we enjoyed many cups of Du Chia (buffalo milk tea) and many plates of Dal Bhat (lentils and rice). We shared stories, devotionals and laughed a ton.
The main aim of NOA is to provide financial stability for youth workers desiring to share the Gospel in Nepal. For every 10 trekkers that use NOA, the revenues from the trips will provide enough resources to employ one full time youth worker for a year. Hom told me that his heart is to support youth workers, Nepal Young Life Ministries and church planting in Nepal. What an awesome vision! I am excited to keep working with Hom as we build this company in Nepal. I have high hopes that God will indeed use it to further the Gospel among young people in Nepal.
Last week I had the opportunity to spend time with our friends in Romania. We spent most of our time doing a training trip to prepare for the coming summer of ministry. Unfortunately, we were forced off the trail early because of a fierce wind storm and a ripped tent. The wind started blowing about 1 am on the third night and my friend Cosmin and I learned how to sleep upright while holding a tent pole. I can remember laughing to my self during the middle of the night as I looked over at Cosmin. He was standing upright, fully zipped up in his mummy bag, holding the pole with his eyes closed, it was proof that humans can sleep standing up.
Besides the wind storm and the ripped tent we had a terrific time. I was inspired by these guys as they told us stories of lives changed with their ministry in previous summers and I was encouraged to hear how they looked forward to this coming year of ministry. I was especially encouraged by stories from a few trips that came from the Deborah House. The Deborah House is a home for abused girls in Romania and the vulnerability and transformation in these girls lives while on the trail was truly incredible.
Way to go you guys, thank you for letting us be a part of what you are doing. You are making a difference in Romania, keep on fighting for those young people!
At the beginning of every summer season we do a guide training trip to prepare all our guides for a summer of being on the trail. We practice and train on all the technical skills of guiding and all the soft skills of ministry on the trail. Not only is this week full of good technical and ministerial information, it is also an amazing time of transformation.
In my training group we had three churches represent from three different parts of the state. These amazing guides wasted no time getting real with the struggles in their own lives. As they wrestled and shared their struggles they quickly embraced the Gospel through community, scripture, contemplation and solitude.