From one epicenter to another. And so due to the workings of chance and coincidence – if you believe that improbable random things can create order – I find myself heading to Gorkha with my Annapurna guide, and Robin a church member from one of the Feet Ministries churches in KTM, to meet Pastor Assok Baram of whom I’d heard in the capital. He warmly invited me, or did I invite myself, to his village and to be part of his community for 48 hours. Roshan slipped off to visit his folks in Bhirkot.
Robin was so excited to be host to a foreign visitor that he took me up the mountain the hard route and proceeded to put me up at his parent’s farmhouse. At one stage I thought the whole family were sleeping in the same small barn, with Robin and I sharing a bed but I later learned that this was also the lounge and TV room and when the parents and daughter-in-law retired we were just three boys sharing together. I shall not elaborate further on the domestic arrangements suffice to say that this was a simple farmstead and these were simple, generous folk… who start work at 5am. I had the privilege of watching father and daughter-in-law ploughing their terrace with an ox on arrival. Oh, and I was to be the preacher that day at their evening fellowship meeting at the house at the top of the terraces. I had been reading Colossians 2:6-7 in the morning and this suited the occasion very well with a bit of Psalm 1 thrown in for good measure.
I was able to shadow the pastor for the day and learn of his pastoral visiting ministry. On an all day pastoral trek we visited 7 families. They each have extraordinary stories to tell.
There was the young couple who served lasse: he had been working in the Middle East but was sent home with some sickness like ME and now farms. After the quake he rebuilt his house in 3 days. I asked if their daughters were good around the house pulling their weight. It was a dumb question, all children have to – there is water to collect 4/5 times a day, and animal feed to pick from trees, and meals and washing, and it goes on. She reasurred me they were good and helpful girls.
There was goat-granny with her young ward: she had been invited by the pastor to come and live with him but whilst she still had these goats she had a reason to be independent and walks the goats to church on a Saturday even though it is a 45 minute walk.
There is Kolpana the persecuted cripple: after spending time with her and her relatives praying separately with them her father said she had to leave home. She can’t even leave her bedroom due to her crippled and bent legs. She may move in with the pastor if this is more than a threat. We were praying here for a motorbike so that she might be able to attend church occasionally.
There was the son of the witch doctor with a poorly leg: he came to church the following day for the first time to receive prayer for healing. His father had done all he can do, and the church’s track record at healing by prayer is extraordinary. This was the case in the early church recorded in the book of Acts when the gospel came to new areas it was accompanied by signs of God’s power in healings and other miracles. Pastor Assok (below) believes very much that this is what is happening here.
There was the other man back from Qatar who through ill health had his visa withdrawn, and the formerly paralysed man resting on his bed by the goats, and there was the suspicious but curious family next door to church members whose tea we declined.
From the top of the hill to the pastor’s house were 95 terraces to negotiate, an another another 10-15 to Robin. We saw two schools being rebuilt and a water pipe build by Koreans for the part of Masel at the top of the hill. The church at Masel has built its own water source but it has been dry for over a year.
That evening I stayed at the newly built Assok guest house! Indeed a carpenter was still working on a second bed ($30). On the way to church next day where I was to preach Romans 12 we visited a plot of land that could be a new larger church, and an English speaking school that offered equal opportunities to all castes. If I understood right it would cost $7,000 to buy and $150,000 to build. There were about 80 in church, the service was filled with prayer – by the leader from the front, and from the congregation – and joy in worship. Most were new Christians in the last five years. There was, as there always is, prayer for healing at the end of the service and everyone stays to pray and share in this ministry to new members of the church community.
The lady in blue in church was told by her doctor there was no treatment for her cancer and to go home. She came to church, heard the gospel, was prayed with and went home, and she is still with us. I left $30 for the pastor to use at his discretion, perhaps to make a new bed for Kolpina or to support his ministry of hospitality.
He seems like a man with a vision and a plan and and a heart, also with the motivation to achieve his goals.
The lady in blue.