The pastor graciously invited the team to his church for refreshments. Joe ducked through the doorway of a shed no taller than 4 feet high and 10 feet long. It had no electricity and the walls were made of mud. He and the nine members of his team sat shoulder to shoulder, crammed into what they were told was a church building. As he sipped his tea and nibbled biscuits, Joe realized that after being in the country of Nepal for less than 24 hours, he was already getting a glimpse of the kingdom of God.
Joe began his journey in Hawaii, at the training base for Youth With a Mission. Out of the group of trainees, 9 would become his lifelong friends. After two and a half months of training, they were ready to head to Nepal.
It was in Katmandu, inside the church (shed) of the pastor, that Joe understood for the first time the gift of the mission he was about to undertake. That he would be forever changed not because of anything he was going to do but because of how the Holy Spirit would use the people of Nepal to teach him about being in relationship.
In Katmandu the team worked a lot with the church youth. They went into the slums to share the gospel through the season of Christmas, lead music, minister to shut-ins, and do intercessory prayer at Buddhist and Hindu temples.
After about 3 weeks they boarded a bus to ride 25 hours over dirt-packed, rutted, winding roads to the eastern Nepal city of Dharan. They spent another 8 hours driving and 10 hours hiking to a village that was building an orphanage to house abandoned children.
The team helped with the construction of the orphanage. In doing so, Joe met a village woman who had been taking orphans into her own home for years. She and her husband housed and fed the children and taught them to farm. This woman was not a Christ-follower. However, some of her adopted children became recipients of Operation Christmas Child boxes. In the boxes they received, she found and read the gospel message in Nepalese. She accepted Christ and is now starting a church in the village.
Next the team traveled 36 hours in the opposite direction to west Nepal. They served at a medical camp in a remote village where they treated some seriously affected individuals. In addition, they helped in church ministry by preaching the gospel, leading soccer camps, and taking food to the slums.
The Himalayas can be quite chilly in February so the team sought warmth within the mud walls of an out-kitchen. As Joe huddled next to the stove a young orphan began to describe the hopelessness of being born into the caste system. With no ability to rise any higher than the lowest caste, he found little will or reason to work hard. Joe shared with him that God sees his unlimited potential. That God has a special plan for him and that he is unique and priceless. But as God often does, even as he was sharing with the boy, God showed Joe his own worth and identity in Christ.
Over the course of six months, Joe had some amazing experiences. God showed him the importance of relationships. People are the same in Nepal as they are in Severn, and those people want to be seen and be in relationship with others, and with Jesus. Joe learned the importance of being able to depend on his teammates for everything from safety, to borrowing items, to living and traveling together, to prayer. Most importantly, Joe realized, “God is bigger than I allow him to be”.
So true. We all need to BELIEVE BIG and allow God to do what only he can do!
Joe has just accepted a position to be a leader with YWAM this fall, read more about it from his personal blog here. If you’d like to support Joe and celebrate God's call in his life, and Joe's willingness to serve, please follow this link to get more information.