by Denton Ice
It is hard to put into words the experience of an international mission trip to a third world country, but here it goes. For those who play shooter video games like Medal of Honor or Call of Duty, you understand the confusion that comes from being dropped into the game in the middle of fighting and chaos all around you. That is the way I felt when we walked out of the airport in Kathmandu after more than 40 hours of travel. We walk out of the building to cars moving everywhere, drivers asking if we need a ride, and a bunch of noise, all the while we are trying to spot our guide without ever having met him. Once he and his accompaniment found us they rushed us to the car, put scarfs around our necks, grabbed our luggage from us, and shoved us all into this vehicle that was about four seats shy of what we really needed. After about 45 minutes of the most stressful car ride we had ever experienced (especially Kayley) we finally made it to the guest house where we were able to relax and get acquainted with our hosts and our temporary home. Then we were able to really settle into the reality of where we were and what we were doing.
After the first night, we got up the next day and hit the road traveling from church to church. We visited about five churches in Kathmandu valley and had a chance to pray with and encourage the church planters and pastors along with their families. This was one of the most encouraging parts of the trip for me, and one of the most challenging. We met young men in there early twenties who were now starting churches. I was so impacted by one young man named Sagar Tamang who was twenty years old and had only been a Christian for two years and was now starting a church. This is so different from the mentality in the United States where many are content to spend their whole life never maturing their faith or serving the church. There, the expectation is exactly the opposite. A life that is ignited by the Jesus flame is one that must grow and spread. The time spent with these brothers and sisters who were in the trenches, on mission for the Kingdom of God, was true eye opening for me. Even though they were struggling to gain members, and had virtually no budget, they were all smiles and full of joy. We were there to encourage them, but we left more encouraged I’m sure.
The trip was especially challenging for me in the area of supernatural gifts, specifically healings. For the past several years I have slowly been becoming more and more of a cessationist, but after hearing testimony after testimony of how the Lord brought people to faith in him through healing them or their family member, I have been forced to reconsider my position. I talked to several individuals who were theologically and psychologically solid who told me stories of God healing people their. So I was forced into a tough position. I either had to believe that all of these godly men were lying, ignorant, or deceived, or that I was wrong in my position. As one could imagine, the clear answer was tough to swallow due to my pride. When you are convinced of something and then to find out you are dead wrong is pretty tough, but a very healthy dose of humility. I still have questions and I am trying to work through the concepts in my head, but I am glad to have had my reality shaken up like this.
A trip like this changes a person’s perspective on so many things besides theology. I have been so impacted by how wealthy we are here in the US compared to most of the world. Just the fact that what many of us would spend on food in a day here, would feed someone in the normal class for a few days in Nepal, this gives an idea of how much we take for granted. In addition, we have the freedom to evangelize and share the Gospel as much as we like, while there, it is against the law to try to convert others to Christianity. We even had one pastor from another church warn us to be careful and not to get in trouble by spreading the good news. This would never be heard of in the US, yet it is true in many countries, some to an even greater extent. Yet the church continues to grow, despite the threat of persecution. There is no threat for us, yet we see an alarmingly low rate of growth here, which should bother us.
My final thoughts on this trip cause me to realize that people all over the world are longing for more, and have been made to worship. Everyone worships something which is why there are over 30 million gods in the Hindu religion. As we walked the streets in Kathmandu and I saw a small temple with an idol in it on every street corner, it caused me to realize that we were created to worship, and everyone worships something. Some worship false gods in other religions, some worship creation, and many (especially in the US) worship themselves. The challenge then for us is showing people that there is only one true God, that we should worship the creator instead of creation, and that there is a power much greater than us. My prayer is that I might reach my culture, different as it may be, with the same Gospel that is at work in Nepal.