Update from Ron Jenkins, Board Member
An airline pilot, a financial planner and a local pastor walk into a village in Nepal…
Sounds like the start of an interesting joke, but it would soon become a part of my reality. My friend and co-traveler, Matt MacLean, had asked me to go with him on a mission trip. We had originally met a few years earlier when a mutual friend invited him to attend a men’s group that I was leading. When I first met Matt, I can honestly say that I never thought that I would be traveling with him so far from my home, but God had some long range plans for the two of us. Little did either of us know that, in just a short time, we would be missionary partners to unreached people groups on the other side of the world.
Sometimes, as I look at the pictures and videos that we have taken to document what have now become two trips for me, I am amazed. I can’t believe that I actually went to Nepal. It truly is surreal. It is only after I have returned to the U.S. that I can process the events that have transpired on those intensely packed days. Nepal is a place I had told Matt that I thought I would never go to. Something he now reminds me about each time we have gone there. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not adverse to mission trips. I have taken several to Mexico to build houses, but Nepal? That’s literally on the other side of the globe. By air, it takes about 30 hours and three to four flights, depending on the region you are traveling to, and that’s just to get there.
Now Matt is not the kind of guy to twist your arm into doing something, he just asks nicely and lets the Holy Spirit do all the hard work of convincing. He’s a financial planner, so he can tell you all about investing for the future, and sacrificing to achieve monetary goals. Make no mistake; going to Nepal is a sacrifice. We aren’t going as tourists to see the Himalayas like most people. One of the first questions I get asked when I tell someone I have gone to Nepal is, "Did you see Everest?" The next thing they say is, "How cold was it?" These are interesting questions, but the region of Nepal that our work is focused on is called the Terai, which in Nepali means "the low-lying land at the foot of the Himalayas". When you read this think, “flat, hot and far away from Everest”. It is geographically located in the southern third of the country and in elevation and climate is vastly different than what most people have seen in travel brochures and on the Discovery channel. The late spring and summer temperatures can routinely climb above 100 degrees, and the average elevation is less than 1,000 feet, making it more tropical than mountainous, as most people think.
I wish I could tell you that what honestly motivates me to go to Nepal is a pure love for the people. I’m not there yet. I think that I go because God has placed a passion in my heart to train believers to become disciples. I see my role as finding creative, and inspiring ways to portray the Gospel message to a people that don’t even share my same language. Not that the message isn’t inspiring already, but that I am compelled to convey the truths of scripture that have been entrusted to me by faithful believers, to a people group that hasn’t been exposed to these same truths.
That I get to witness the material need for water being met is just a bonus to the trips I have made to Nepal. One of the most impactful being when I witnessed a well dedication for a village of about 400 people, who we learned were all getting their water from another well source, that they shared as a community. This same well they were using prior to our arrival was also unclean water. What impacted me the most happened while I was taking pictures of the dedication for the new well that had been installed. We do this for two reasons; to document and record the experiences for the folks back home who have contributed to our organization, and secondly, to raise awareness for the urgent physical and spiritual needs of the people in Nepal. During the filming, I was suddenly struck with the reality of where I was, what I was seeing, who was there, and why and how we were even in Nepal. I was witnessing a local Nepali man who had become a Christian and part time pastor dedicate this well to a community that had not heard the Gospel message before. The villagers present were part of the Musahar people group, social outcasts in Nepal, the poorest of the world's poor. What made me start to cry was the realization that God so loved this small, insignificant, poor, outcast village that He sent His son to become living water for them and laid it on the hearts of some men to go and share this good news with these very people. Here I am, taking pictures of this local part time pastor, who is also a security guard, preaching to people who I couldn’t have imagined in my life that I would ever meet. Why would I travel over 8,000 miles to a remote village in a country where I don’t speak the language? He was allowing me to witness just one example of a very tangible expression of His love for all people. I think to myself, "I would not be here, but for the grace of God."
I still struggle with my role in all this, but I see that as a good thing. I believe one of my strengths is problem solving, but the problems I have witnessed in Nepal are much bigger than I can solve on my own. That is good, because, when the people are helped, God gets the glory and not me. So now when I hear someone saying, “I could never go there and do that.” I am reminded of that fateful day when I said the same thing to my friend about going to Nepal, and I smile.
Living Water for the Thirsty