God has been blessing our team in so many ways that now that I can sit down at a keyboard it is difficult to know where to begin. Sunday morning, the beginning of our first full day in Nepal, began with worship at KICC, a fairly large international congregation made up of a lovely combination of largely European expatriates (foreigners living abroad), some Americans, teams and individuals who have come to Nepal for outreach from all over the world, and a healthy sprinkling of Nepalis, many of whom are getting their own corporate worship time after having led/pastored their own Nepali churches who meet on Saturday. What a taste of Heaven to worship with such a diverse congregation! The message (delivered by Pastor Rendell, from America, but who served in Africa for many years) was about Hagar, El Roi (“God who sees”) and Ishmael (“God hears”). After church service and fellowship over Nepali milk tea afterwards, we were off to lunch to hear the stories of some refugees in Kathmandu.
The first to share with us was Allen (code name). He is a well-educated doctor from a very wealthy family in northeast Africa who had been living and traveling abroad doing business. Then his father back in his home country decided to stop paying off the war lord (heavily armed men who control their own little ‘kingdoms’in that country) who had been extorting money from him for “protection,” because the war lord was using that money to fight against his own countrymen. This stand against injustice cost Allen’s father his life when the war lord attacked their estate and overpowered their many guards. Allen’s mother, siblings and his 2 sons were able to get safely into a well-fortified bunker on the estate, but were basically trapped there. They were able to contact Allen, who risked his life to come back into the country and was able to get them off the estate into relative safety by buying a secluded piece of land to farm in the jungle. But he had to flee again, his resources much limited because the war lord had seized all the family’s assets. Then, in his attempt to find work outside the country he fell victim to human traffickers, who were supposedly finding him a job in India, but instead essentially stole his passport and his medical credentials and left him stranded in Nepal with almost nothing and no way to even prove his identity. This story of deception is typical for African refugees who are in Kathmandu—they had to flee their home country for whatever reason and are victimized by traffickers and basically stuck in Nepal indefinitely.
But Allen, who calls himself a Muslim, but whose mother was a Christian who taught him about the Bible, has (despite great difficulties and sufferings including hunger) has not given up in despair. Since the earthquake he has been active in the villages outside Kathmandu who were hardest hit by the earthquake. He has done so much he has even been covered in the newspaper, acknowledging his trans-formative work providing medical clinics and rebuilding schools and water supplies in remote areas.
Ron (code name) had to flee his Southeast Asian home country after fighting for democracy and human rights leading up to the revolution in his country in the 1980’s, which resulted in a military government seizing power. He has been in Nepal since 1989 and a corrupt Nepali government or U.N. official has sold his identity to someone—there is someone (probably Nepali) who has been resettled in a Scandinavian country under his name. This leaves him without a legal identity, so unless there is some miracle, he will never be able to leave his very difficult life as a refugee in Nepal.
Zebedee (also code name) had to flee from his home in a Southeast Asian country after having been arrested for his Christian mission and discipleship work in that strongly Buddhist country. He was badly beaten in jail and only escaped in a miraculous manner clearly orchestrated by God. He has been here in Kathmandu 7 years, and is approved by the UN for resettlement to the U.S. but cannot leave Nepal until the matter of his overstay fines (defined below) are paid.
Because they didn’t enter the country legally, or no longer have proof that they did so, they are considered illegal immigrants and are fined by the Nepal government ~5 US dollars each day, despite the fact that they are legally barred from working in Nepal and so are not allowed to have any income. They do not want to stay in Nepal and take up resources, nearly all were fleeing for their lives when they came here. But because they are not recognized by the Nepali immigration department as refugees, they are racking up thousands of dollars of fines that they are required to pay before Nepal will approve them to leave. They do not even have money to provide for their basic needs like shelter & daily food, so we are praying that someone with authority in the Nepali government will have common sense and have their fines waived so they can be resettled and begin rebuilding their lives. Please join us in asking God to provide for their needs while they are here, to give them hope when their circumstances would dictate despair, and to change hearts and minds of people in power.