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It has been a very full and productive two weeks. There have been lots of opportunities and challenges, yet through it all I can attest to God’s faithfulness.
The first wrinkle came even before I left home, while sitting in a restaurant having some “daddy” time with my kids. My cell phone rang, and the message was that the airline had cancelled both my outbound and return flights. This caused a dominoe effect, as three other flights on my return were affected by this cancellation. However, God was good and opened a way for my flights to be re-arranged, giving me an extra day here in Nepal. This, I came to realize yesterday, was of His design as it afforded me the opportunity to travel to eastern Nepal to visit an orphan project which may become a Kidstown supported home in the near future. Initially I had informed key leaders that I would not be able to make the trip due to schedule constraints, but with the cancellation of the flight, a window for a visit opened, and I am sincerely glad to have been able to go and see first-hand another place where God is at work.
Over the past two weeks God has given the opportunity to encourage Masaai church leaders in Tanzania, to visit, encourage, strengthen relationships, and develop infrastructure at six Kidstown-supported homes in Nepal, and to explore the possibility of sponsorship at three additional homes in western, central, and eastern Nepal. The schedule has been extremely full, the roads full of bumps and cows, the airplane rides almost more than one can count, and the food of great variety (I do like “daal bhat” & “chapati” for those of you who are familiar with Nepali cuisine!). But one constant was that in each place visited I was with family. When we have Christ, cultural and ethnic differences take a back seat. Christ is our common denominator and so we instantly know that we are with brothers and sisters in Christ.
God has blessed the Kidstown work here in Nepal. Nepal is a country which has struggled immensely in the past. For decades closed to missionary work, Nepal has now opened its doors, allowing a window of opportunity for the church to freely work. Orphanages have proven to be an effective ministry due to their compassionate nature. However, they also afford the opportunity for the leaders to share the Gospel with the kids, disciple them in their faith, and prepare them for a life of service to the Lord. In a country as needy and spiritually dark as Nepal, we must with fervor engage the opportunities God gives us. It may be only a matter of time, given the political volatility of the government, before the doors once again close to foreign mission involvement. What we do now is therefore of great importance.
For those of you who have a heart for Nepal and for seeing God’s Kingdom expand in this place, I encourage you to join one of our Kidstown teams to visit and to catch the vision of God at work in Nepal. Alvin Starkenburg and Mike Hollander, both part of the Kidstown leadership team and seasoned team leaders, are each planning to come to Nepal in 2012 (Mike in February, and Alvin in May). If you are interested in knowing more about either of these opportunities, please let me know. I assure you that you will leave Nepal a changed person. If you come with an open heart and mind, God will surely challenge you to get involved.
So, for all of you who have covered us with your prayers, I sincerely thank you. There have been times of testing, stress, health challenges, and even physical danger, but your prayers moved the hand of God and He faithfully protected us as we moved from place to place. Thank you for joining us in God’s work in Africa and Nepal. We do this work not for our sake, or for the sake of any organization, but simply for the sake of the advancement of His Kingdom.
God bless each one of you,
Dr. Matthew Smith
Traveling in Nepal is in-and-of-itself a challenging experience. Cows, goats, bicycles, and vehicles of all types vie for space on the narrow roads. The driving experience is heightened when heading up into the hills. The roads become more narrow, the switchbacks a bit tighter, and the horn blows more frequently, warning any unseen vehicles around the next bend that we are coming. Up one mountain, and then down into the valley. Beautiful scenery, complete with terraced fields and thatch covered huts, dot the landscape. Rivers, which in the urban centers would be blackened by garbage and other pollutants, in these remote areas are clear and the water runs blue-green.
At the (literal) end of the road we arrived in Surkhet, a beach-head of sorts in West Nepal for aid groups. From Surkhet thousands of pounds of food aid is airlifted by helicopter and airplane by such groups as the UN World Food Programme, to remote regions where the climate is so harsh that people cannot grow enough to survive.
In is here in Surkhet that Kidstown is involved in supporting the New Life Children Haven, a Christian orphanage that is giving refuge to many children from the remotest regions of Nepal. Solomon, the leader, is a pastor, and will travel for weeks on end into mountainous areas accessible only by foot in order to encourage small churches scattered throughout these areas. During his travels he is approached by people who have heard of the New Life Children Haven, and they often will beg him to take a child or two back with him. Currently 31 children live in the home, and although their life is far from perfect, they are much better off than living in a remote mountain village in desperate poverty.
As we have walked along this journey of caring for orphans, God has increasingly opened our eyes to be intentionally engaged in three main areas:
- Practical care for orphans. This is the primary concern of both Kidstown and the orphanages we support. We want to make sure that the kids are housed, receive food and clothing, that they are educated, and that they receive love from the leaders. All of the orphanages are doing well on this front.
- Evangelizing and discipling of the children. Helping the children with food and clothing is important, but we also must share the Gospel with them and help them grow in the faith. Many orphanages are dedicated to having daily devotions, involving the kids in church, and encouraging Bible memory. Some of the homes are weaker in this regard, and so we must gently encourage them to keep this as a priority.
- Preparing the children for being witnesses for Christ. As Christ-followers, we all have the responsibility to share Christ with others. It is important that the children also are made aware of this, and encouraged to think and pray about being witnesses for Christ both now, to their classmates and friends, and to others that they meet later on in life. Especially in India and Nepal, this idea of preparing the kids to be a light for Christ is vitally important. These countries are some of the spiritually darkest places on earth. About 20% of the world’s population is accounted for here, yet only a very small number of these are believers. These kids have tremendous potential of one day being the ones to take the Gospel back to their own.
So, as Kidstown moves forward, I would encourage all of us, whether our function is board member, orphanage leader, donor, sponsor, or staff member, to be intentional about all 3 areas listed above. All of us, in one way or another, can engage these on a regular basis. God will indeed honor our efforts, for it is His desire that orphans be helped and evangelized, and that they take the light of the Gospel to others.