The past two weeks have been quite busy here in Daldedhura. One of the most striking aspects of life here is the contrast between the lives of believers and those of the predominantly Hindu population. In Kathmandu, those who surrendered their lives to the Lord had an immediate and striking change in their lives. Since the culture is overwhelmingly Hindu, conversion can mean separation from family and friends and can carry life-threatening impacts. Here that commitment comes with a price and has an immediate impact. This is because of the striking differences between Hindi and Christian worldviews.
For instance, we understand that Christ does not differentiate between rich or poor, men or women, slave or free. His death on the Cross was for as many who would come, without regard to those distinctions. This flies in the face of Hindu teaching that these distinctions are the result of your birth or caste in life; you have no hope to change this at all - it is your fate and must be accepted. When people in Nepal hear the gospel, they understand the impact on centuries of life. The gospel will drastically change the social, economic, and spiritual landscape. What results is the violence between Hindi and Christians we have seen in India; it plays out similarly in Nepal.
What this also means in Dadeldhura is that believers can become isolated and cut-off from fellowship with the body. It also makes it difficult for believers who need assistance as your community is now smaller. This led to a couple of great opportunities to strengthen and encourage fellow believers and testify to God’s grace. During our first days here, we hiked for two hours to visit a family that had been without fellowship for two months. We were blessed to be able to visit and worship with them, share communion, and encourage them. We also spent time on a couple of building projects. One was for a pair of paraplegic women who live near the church in this area but are unable to attend regularly because of the house they live in. We helped prepare a new foundation for their home. The other project was for a Hindu family that lives next door to the base where we stay and have become friends with the family who runs the base. We helped to clear their property in preparation for doubling the size of their home. Both were wonderful opportunities to bless those people.
People in the Dadeldhura area are noticeably more reserved than in Kathmandu. People are very shy and wary, making for hard work in sharing the gospel.
The mission clinic that we came to assist has had a five-year contract with Nepal to run the clinic. That contract just ended and the group has been asked to turn over the clinic to the state. There were complaints of proselytizing and accusations by some of financial mismanagement. It sad, as this clinic (which has been doubled in size to treat more people) will now likely become a hospital for the wealthier citizens in the area, abandoning those from the lower castes whom the clinic has been serving without regard to caste or ability to pay.
As a result of these changes, medical equipment that had been donated for the expansion was packed up to be returned to the manufacturers or sponsoring organizations. On the way back to Kathmandu, the shipment was seized by the police and the driver was charged with theft and jailed. In addition, the doctors and nurses who serve there have been asked to find other lodgings.
The state has also forbidden them from providing care except in the case of severe emergencies. As a result, we helped pack over 60 kilograms of medical supplies and medicines into a remote area north of Dadeldhura. What was supposed to be a one hour jeep drive and a four-and-a-half hour trek became a ten hour trek in the dark. (I can now claim that I have summited on of the (lower) Himalaya peaks as a result!) I have much more to share on that trip, but it will have to wait for another time. We were the first Christians to come into the area and I was one of the few Caucasians many had seen. Most of my group could easily be mistaken for natives or south East Asian. It lead to a few tense situations, one in which I was mistaken for a doctor by a local women. I was quickly surrounded by others reaching out to touch me, begging for help. I was reminded of the crowds pressing in around Jesus, reaching out to be healed.
While they are disappointed in the closure of this clinic, the staff is looking to purchase land further north of Dadeldhura where they can establish a new clinic. The area is undeserved medically and spiritually. They need to find property they can purchase, which means gaining favor with the local people.
By the time you read this, we will have made it back to Kathmandu for a few days before we leave for the final portion of our outreach in Bat Dambang, Cambodia. Hopefully our trip will be without incident and much shorter than the 23-hour trip over.
One final thing - because we have had to walk everywhere while Dadeldhura my feet are in extreme pain. The team has been praying for them regularly, but after our ten and seven hour hikes to and from the village where we did the clinic, I am really looking forward to a foot massage of epic proportions.
You can see there a great many needs in the area. Please pray for those living in Dadeldhura and those who remain to serve them, especially that they will be able to establish a new clinic north of the area and continue to serve and give Hope to the people living there.