17 May Being His Hands and Feet
by Carson Jones
Our team packed twenty-five suitcases filled with medical supplies for our mission trip to Nepal. We didn’t know what we would need, so it seemed safer to take everything we could think of. With so many bags, I was sure something would be lost in transit, but to my surprise, everything made it safely to Katmandu. As we were moving to clear customs, the uniformed guards began to ask questions about what was in our bags.
We knew bringing medical supplies, particularly medicines, in from the outside could be a problem. They could be held or confiscated depending on the situation. Our chain of five large carts held up the line and the exiting travelers grumbled behind us. We were funneled into a tight corridor, to an area so small there wasn’t room to marshal us and look through our bags while allowing others to pass. The guard finally motioned for us to get moving because we were holding up traffic. Miraculously, we passed through without any inspection.
You would think that being in the Katmandu valley of Nepal should mean fresh air and pristine surroundings, but it is far from that.
Our partner, Birbal, waited outside the door with a team of friends. We received a warm welcome full of hugs and greetings of “Jaimase,” which means something like “He is risen” and is the common greeting between followers of Jesus, instead of “Namaste.”
You would think that being in the Katmandu valley of Nepal should mean fresh air and pristine surroundings, but it is far from that. With three million people jammed into a relatively small valley at about 4,700 feet in elevation, the air was stagnant and polluted, and the Bagmatti river that runs through the valley was polluted and lined with trash. Durbar Square, a UNISCO world heritage site, is packed with shrines, idols, and palaces.
Economically, Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries (ranked 144 out of 182) with one-third of the population living on less than $1 a day. Less than half the population is literate, and human trafficking is a growing problem. There is plenty of suffering in Nepal, where there are an estimated 2.6 million child laborers. On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 earthquake destroyed much of parts of Katmandu and many villages in the surrounding region and remote areas throughout Nepal.
We discovered that our church planters had some of the more acute medical issues that our doctors would see on this trip. It turns out that while the pastors, church planters, and their wives were caring for everyone around them, they weren’t caring for themselves.
The plan for our mission trip was to launch a medical camp and help lead a pastors’ conference for our ministry partners in Hetauda, which is a large city to the south of Katmandu. Traveling to those areas took us down winding mountain roads that were partially paved and narrow, cut into the hillside and through the valleys.
We arrived in Hetauda late after a day of dizzying driving on the rugged mountain roads. The next day we led a conference focused on discipleship. Everyone on the team led a segment of teaching and we enjoyed interacting with our new friends.
We discovered that our church planters had some of the more acute medical issues that our doctors would see on this trip. It turns out that while the pastors, church planters, and their wives were caring for everyone around them, they weren’t caring for themselves. That was a good reminder for all of us, to keep self-care in mind while helping others.
The doctors examined people who had aches and pains, as well as others who had serious medical issues. We were there to serve in Jesus’ name and everyone did that, without exception.
We held one of the medical camps in a portion of the unused local school in Dandabas, a small village. There was neither power nor lights, but it had a variety of different spaces that our team organized into makeshift examination rooms and the pharmacy.
What transpired over the three days of medical camps was truly amazing. The nurses and doctors on our team lovingly cared for hundreds of people. The doctors focused on physically touching the patients, which was something the Nepali doctors on our team didn’t practice at the beginning of our trip. The doctors examined people who had aches and pains, as well as others who had serious medical issues. We were there to serve in Jesus’ name and everyone did that, without exception.
Like so many countries in Asia and other parts of the world, Nepal is classified as an “Unreached People Group,” meaning less than 2 percent of the population is Christian. It is not uncommon for people to live their whole lives in Nepal and never hear the name of Jesus. My hope is that even more people will join mission trips around the world to bring the amazing love and grace of Jesus to people who are not being reached with this good news.
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