Friday, July 20, 2007

2007 CSC Asia Trip Wrap-up

Hello everyone!

I'm writing this from the DFW airport as we await our final flight to Alexandria and the waiting arms of our families! This will be the 14th flight in 20 days, having touched down in 8 countries. We have established 9 new film teams, 3 in the Philippines, 4 in Nepal and 2 in Pakistan. That makes a total of 28 teams in Asia – including the 18 in India and 1 in Sri Lanka. We have also met with all but 2 of the 18 film teams in India for a time of training and testimonies. It has been a worthwhile trip, but we are bushed and ready to be home.

Closing meal at the CSC India conference - table fit for King's kids!My last post left off with the second day of the conference. On the third and final day Patrick went over the CSC training manual with everyone present. While these teams are already functioning, it's good to go over the basics and make sure everyone is on the same page. We finished with a wonderful meal together at a table set for the King's kids, posed for group photos and spent time hugging and saying goodbye.

The Zion Bible College in Mallapolly, Kerala, India - long story, but it's a small world after all!The afternoon we headed out to Bro. Abraham's house for a brief visit and then on to Bro. Roy's home for supper. On the way we stopped in the town of Mallapolly to take a photo of a Bible school my father-in-law helped build before I ever met my wife. As huge as this world is, with billions of people, my father-in-law had financially supported a pastor in south India by the name of George Varghesi who, as it turns out, actually baptized Bro. Abraham's father and mother years ago! He is in heaven now but the Bible school continues.

Bro. Abraham demonstrating how to tap a rubber tree.Bro. Abraham lives in a small home that his father built over 80 years ago on a rubber tree plantation. Rubber is his main source of income. Like Patrick, he is a businessman and helps underwrite some of the ministry in Asia. In fact, he gave a generous personal gift towards paying for the conference. He showed us how to tap the rubber trees and the process that the rubber milk goes through before it can be sold to the rubber companies.

The CSC Asia leadership team and familyAfter a snack in his home prepared by his lovely wife Susama we headed to Roy's home. Roy is married to Bro. Abraham's daughter and is full-time in the ministry, traveling as an evangelist and also a CSC missionary. They prepared a lovely supper which we enjoyed with gusto before taking our leave.

Torrential rains in the state of Kerala overflowed the roads, causing us to take back mountain roads to get to the airport.We had arranged the next morning to leave around 5:30 since it's a 3+ hour drive to the airport and we wanted to be there by 9:00, 2 hours before the flight left. It was a good thing we got an early start. The heavy rains in Kerala had made the road we traveled in impassable. We had to double back and take some back mountain roads through higher ground. We made it just in the nick of time ... it also helped that the flight was delayed a bit!

The next part is all a blur ... we flew into Delhi, rented a hotel room for a couple of hours to freshen up, then headed to the International airport for our 15+ hour flight to Chicago. We breezed through Immigration and Customs and headed to our connection flight to Dallas, where I'm writing this now.

The CSC film teams.Thank you so much for your prayers, emails, encouragement and financial support. CSC is God's plan, not ours, and the expansion He is leading us to is happening at His direction. Bro. Patrick and Bro. Abraham both feel a strong conviction of the Lord that there will be over 100 teams in Asia in the next 5 years. As a member of the Board of Directors, I know CSC will carefully follow the Lord's leading in this and ALL matters. Thank you for being a part of the Christians Sharing Christ “Support Team”!

Nathan <><

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

CSC Workers Conference in India – Day 2

Indian Greetings!

We were told that it is rainy season in this part of the country and we have definitely experienced it. It has rained almost non-stop since our arrival and the electricity is very intermittent. The hotel has a generator so whenever the electricity fails they fire up the generator, providing lights, but no AC. Last night was a litany of losing power, regaining lights on generator, lights off as they switch back to power and then lights on w/AC. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. :) But once we fell asleep we didn't have to worry about it any more! We slept well.

Prayer and Worship begin every session. (Bro. Abraham's wife, Susanah, is seen at the left.)The morning brought an excitement about another day of testimonies. I so enjoy hearing these brothers share. Many of their stories are similar – opposition, death threats, hard conditions, but always the hand of God confirming their work, miracles happening and souls being saved. These guys are definitely the heroes of CSC! It's the same every where we go ... just as in Latin America, the brothers have such a passion for souls, such a willingness to suffer hardship, to travel long distances carrying the equipment on their shoulders, all for the purpose of winning souls. When we get to heaven I think there will be a special jewel in the crown of the CSC missionaries who have done so much to expand the Kingdom of God in the face of such opposition and hardship.

A common theme is a request for prayer that God would raise up workers for the harvest. Many repeated the phrase, “The time is short.” There is a sense of urgency in many of these brothers that we must make the most of the short time we have left.

Bro. Samuel Nag, right, shares a testimony of how his grandfather, a former Hindu priest, became a Christian.Here's an example of one of the testimonies that were shared today. One brother shared that his grandfather was a Hindu priest who actually committed human sacrifices in his worship. This brother's father got sick and the grandfather priest did everything he could to see him healed. He sacrificed many animals and spent much money to try to find healing for his son to no avail. One day a man came to his grandfather and suggested that he call some Christian people to pray for his son and he would be healed. The grandfather got angry, “Why are you telling me this? I am a Hindu priest! I used to heal many people! Being a priest I cannot call Christian people to pray for my son.”

But eventually the grandfather relented and called for some Christians to come to his home to pray for his son. The Christians were at first afraid to go to this Hindu priests home, thinking it was a trick, that he wanted to capture them to sacrifice them to his god. But they decided, “Though he will kill us, let us go and hear him and pray for his son.” The Christians came and prayed for the son and the son got healed! The Hindu priest asked them to teach him the way of the Bible and what he must do to follow Jesus. Eventually this Hindu priest was baptized as a public profession of his faith in Jesus.

He led the people to tear down the large Hindu temple he had constructed and to build a Christian church in its place. The people agreed, but they were afraid to dismantle the place where the animals were sacrificed. Another pastor was called to pray and tear down the alter. As he prayed a large black cat came out from the altar making much noise, running away. The people tore down the altar and a church was built in that place and the former Hindu priest became the pastor!

Our brother is the grandson of that Hindu priest and he has served God all his life. He is a Bible College graduate, a pastor, a church planter, oversees an orphanage AND is a member of the CSC film ministry in India! Praise the Lord!

After a few more testimonies Patrick led the brothers through a slide-show of photos of our trip so far, introducing them to the ministry in the Philippines, Nepal and Pakistan. We ended with a photo of the Latin American conference in Costa Rica a couple of years ago, showing many of the film teams from Latin America, demonstrating what a large family CSC is. With great rejoicing we celebrated the blessings of the Lord on the CSC family. Then we broke for lunch.

After lunch we gathered back together to continue our time of testimonies. We asked them if they would worship the Lord in their native language of Maleao. What a stirring time of worship ensued as they worshiped with all their heart! We were caught up in an atmosphere of worship that caused us to reflect on how it will be one day when around God's throne worship will flow from every language and every tribe to the only One worthy of receiving such worship.

DSC00894Brother after brother arose to share testimonies of how God has used film evangelism in their ministry. Every one shared the excitement of receiving a tool that can help them reach many at one time. We've shared the analogy of previously they were fishing with a pole but with a video projector they're fishing with a net! Most of these men are pastors, some are evangelists. They are understanding that CSC is partnering with them in their own ministry, that we are simply providing one tool to their toolbox. Many run orphanages, widows homes, Bible colleges and other types of outreaches. But they all are so excited to have the film projection ministry as an integral part of what they're doing for the Lord. What a great honor it is to be a part of their ministry and to be able to pray for them.

Tomorrow will be our final day with the brothers. We will meet in the morning for prayer, worship and devotion. Then Patrick will go through the CSC manual and we'll have a closing lunch together. Thank you guys again for your love, prayers and support. As much as we're enjoying this trip, we are glad that it is drawing to a close. God's grace has been sufficient. But we are also looking forward to being with our families soon. Until the next update!

Nathan <><

P.S. I've only uploaded a couple of pictures today because I also uploaded the videos above, which takes time. But you can see the newly uploaded photos at: You can easily browse through all the sets of photos from this trip at:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

CSC Workers Conference in Thiruvalla, Kerala, India – Day 1


My last blog entry left off from us leaving Pakistan – but I didn't get to post it until over 24 hours later. And what long hours they were. The flight from Pakistan was 1 ½ hours late leaving. While we had enjoyed the peace of God during our stay, we knew it was time to “get out of Dodge”. So we were ready to go. One really neat thing happened as we were landing in Delhi from Pakistan. Patrick turned on his cellphone to check email and received one from one of the film teams in the Philippines. Bro. Elmerson had written to tell he had his first film showing with 180 people in attendance and 15 people gave their lives to the Lord!!! What an encouragement it was to us! (And I hope to you.)

Our blockaded door in the hotel in Delhi.We arrived in Delhi too late to catch a connecting flight that night so we purchased our ticket for early the next morning and headed to find a hotel and a way to get on the Internet. I found an Internet cafe but there was no way to connect my laptop to their system so I was only able to send a quick email update to a few folks that we were safe in Delhi.

We didn't sleep well that night for various reasons and we had to get up at 4:00AM to get to the airport on time. I had come down with a stomach bug which made traveling all the more uncomfortable. We boarded our 3+ hour flight to the southern city of Kochi, about 1200 miles south of Delhi in the beautiful state of Kerala. Workers in one of the many rice paddies in Kerala.There we were picked up by Bro. Roy, the assistant to the India director, Bro. Abraham. Then it was a 3+ hour ride through the lovely countryside to finally arrive in Thiruvalla, the base of our Indian operations.

The southern state of Kerala is beautiful. It is called “God's Country” by the Indians themselves and you can easily see why. It has a very diverse landscape, hills and flat areas. Family using a hand ferry to get across a canal ... note the dog along for the ride.The area we drove through was very low with many canals and rice paddies. Many people live in these lowlands, some right on the water. They all have small canoes to take them back and forth and some have fashioned crude hand-powered ferries to transport themselves across the canals.

We were exhausted and were glad to get checked into our hotel. After getting settling in and saying goodbye to the brothers we both crashed for a much-deserved nap. Even though this is one of the more primitive hotels we've stayed in, it has the best Internet connection – a cable modem! After my nap I headed down to the hotel to log into the Internet to update my blog and upload some pictures. I was also able to watch the Christian Challenge service live over the Internet, and what a blessing that was! It was great to get to see familiar faces and to get to worship virtually with my church family. I had recorded a brief video greeting in Pakistan and another arriving here in Thiruvalla which I had sent and I think they enjoyed it as well. Then it was back to my room for a wonderful night's sleep.

The following morning we were awakened by singing from a Pentecostal church next door. This was a big change from the last time Patrick was here when he was awakened by the Muslim prayer calls. What a nice change! I headed downstairs to the lobby but this morning I was unable to connect my laptop to the hotel's network. After an hour of no success I began using their computer, which is fine for checking emails, but doesn't allow me to upload pictures, videos, etc. I also got to IM with my lovely wife for a bit, which was a plus.

I headed back to the room to check on Patrick. I had begun feeling much better but now he was stricken by the same bug I had experienced the day before. Bro. Abraham had arrived and prayed for Patrick while I was downstairs and soon he felt well enough to head down to the conference, which would take place in a meeting room in the same hotel.

Banner announcing the CSCFM India conference.We had invited the 18 film teams from around India to join us for three days of testimonies, training and encouragement. Sixteen of the film teams were able to make it to the conference, some traveling as far as 5 days on a train to get here! Praise the Lord!

The brothers had been praying for us in the meeting room and when we arrived they were excited to receive us. We had a wonderful time of worship and prayer together and then Patrick and I brought greetings to the CSC team. Patrick bringing a greeting to the brothers.Patrick then shared the history of how CSC came to India, the letter he had received from Bro. Abraham, the email from another brother and the magazine cover speaking of the need for film evangelism in India, all in the same week. This was an encouragement to the brothers to see how the hand of the Lord had led CSC to India. This was the first time for many of them to meet Patrick, who they had heard of from Bro. Abraham, the CSC Asia director.

Then Patrick had each of the brothers stand an introduce themselves briefly before calling on some of them to begin giving reports. Roy Matthew was the first brother to give his report, as he was the first team started under Bro. Abraham's leadership. (He came to the states a couple of months ago and some of you may have met him.) He shared part of his testimony, that he was not worthy of this ministry but was chosen and used by God, not according to his own worth. He is very grateful that the Lord has brought CSC to India.

DSC00872He shared a testimony from 8 months ago when they were headed out to show films. When they entered a village a young boy came running towards them, asking “Are you the servants of God?” They responded, “Yes, how did you know?” He didn't respond other than to ask them to follow him as he ran bad in the direction he had come from. They followed him running through the village until they reached his house where his mother was demonstrating an evil spirit. They began to pray in the name of Jesus that the Lord would rebuke the evil spirit and instantly the woman fell to the ground, released from the demon that was tormenting her. The next day she publicly proclaimed her faith in Jesus to the whole village, which was a great testimony to the entire village. Later he called the little boy and asked him, “How did you know we were men of God?” The boy replied, “One hour before you came the demon began to say through my mother, 'God's servants are coming. I've been in this woman for 15 years but now I am agitated.' So I knew that someone was coming who could set my mother free.”

Roy shared that after coming to the Lord he preached for many years, evangelizing in many villages with some success but no big responses. But now with the films, large crowds gather, hundreds who otherwise would not come to hear an itinerant preacher, but who come to see the films. And many are being saved, not because of them, but because the Lord has given us this tool to reach so many more than before. He is very thankful for the tool of film evangelism. He gave a passionate call to the other brothers that there is no time to waste, that we must RUN to the harvest fields for the Lord is coming back soon!

Bro. Abraham, the CSC Asia Director, sharing with the Indian film teams.Several more brothers were able to give their testimonies of how God has used Christians Sharing Christ Film Ministry to empower them to reach so many more than their previous efforts. One shared of a witch doctor who accepted Jesus after watching one of the films. This resulted in many of the villagers also accepting Jesus. Another brother works in the Andoman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, 572 islands located about 1200 kilometers from the Indian mainland. Only 40 of the islands are inhabited, 20 of which have been reached by the Gospel of Jesus. These islands are in constant danger by tsunamis such as happened just a couple of years ago. The brother feels a great pressure to take advantage of the time before another disaster happens. There are 20 islands yet to be reached, some are inhabited by 5 different primitive tribes who don't have any idea of who Jesus is. The people are so receptive to the giant screen, fascinated by the moving pictures of giant people! Tremendous growth is taking place in the churches where the films are shown. He gave the example of going to one island and traveling 3 hours inland by foot to a group of primitive peoples, many of whom accepted the Lord and invited them back to start a church.

These brothers' faith and willingness to endure hardship are inspiring. They travel long distances, time away from family, dangers in some areas, hardships in others. All for the sake of carrying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to where His name is not known. These men are my heroes. While they gave Patrick and me the seats of honor, they are the ones who should be honored, in my opinion.

Patrick sharing the CSC PowerPoint presentation to the Indian film teams.We broke for lunch and then came back together for the afternoon session. Patrick walked the brothers through the CSC PowerPoint presentation that we share with the churches in the states, to give the brothers a better understanding of the overall ministry. This has been helpful in each of the countries, to help them understand the heart of CSC, what we're about, what we do and what we don't do. Then we resumed the testimonies. This is one of our favorite parts of these meetings, hearing what God is doing through these champions of faith.

One brother shared that he had seen the power of film evangelism especially among the illiterate people. He had a burden to reach the masses around him. He tried many things that were not effective. But through film ministry he has seen literally thousands of people come to faith in Jesus. He testified to their change of life, the happiness and joy they would receive. At times they would show films until 3:00AM because the people wanted to see more and more about Jesus. Other villages the people would not be as responsive so they used shorter films and prayed for the sick, seeing miracles, causing people to believe in Jesus. When miracles happen, people talk about it! One man who had been hurt in an accident and couldn't walk for 5 years. During one of the services the Lord healed him and he stood up and began to walk by himself. Many people knew this man and his condition and are now seeking the know the Jesus who healed him! As a result he was invited to a hospital to visit a woman who was told she was terminally ill. The Lord raised her up from her death bed and she was discharged from the hospital the same day. This caused many doctors and nurses to inquire about Jesus! All of this because of film ministry!

DSC00584A few other brothers shared their testimonies until it was time to break for the evening. We fellowshipped with the brothers for awhile and then said goodbye the evening. Patrick and I took a stroll around the area around the hotel but because it was raining we didn't stay out long. After a light supper we headed for bed early, still trying to catch up from the fatigue of the past few days. It is so encouraging to hear the testimonies of the film teams, to hear of their faithfulness and their excitement of having a tool to reach so many. Previously they were fishing with fishing poles, now they are fishing with nets!

Tomorrow will be another day of sharing with more testimonies. We will also share a photo slide show of our trip so far, updates from the Philippines, Nepal and Pakistan. In the afternoon Patrick will work through the manual with the teams. All of their training has been oral so this will be a great tool for them to reference in the future.

This leg of the trip is different from the other three legs. In the Philippines, Nepal and Pakistan we were establishing new teams. Here we are hearing reports from teams already in existence. What a great encouragement to hear these reports – and to know that soon we'll be receiving such reports from the other three countries where the Lord has led us. Yes, the trip has been hard and it's been difficult to be away from our families. But to know that many more souls will be added to the Kingdom of God through these new film teams makes any difficulty worthwhile. Thanks for reading!

Nathan <><

P.S. I've uploaded some new pictures. Since my last post I've uploaded several other sets:
Last full day in Kathmandu - 23 photos
Travel day from Nepal to Pakistan - 13 photos
Our one full day in Pakistan - 40 photos
The set I just uploaded, Sunday in India - 9 photos

Sunday, July 15, 2007

From Pakistan to India

Hello all!

I'm writing this Saturday morning, July 14, from the boarding gate in the Lahore, Pakistan airport as we are waiting for our plane. The last couple of days have been a blur! My last blog entry was three days ago on July 11 in the evening so I'll take up from there.

Thursday morning, July 12 was time for goodbyes in Nepal. We met with several of the brothers at the hotel, took pictures, videoed three of the Nepalese film team, prayed together and headed out. Patrick and I headed to the American Embassy to accompany Gajendra Tamang, the Awana missionary who was applying for his visa. We would meet back up with the traveling team at the airport.

The American embassy in Kathmandu occupies one wing of a large hotel. They've just completed construction on an 80 million dollar embassy but haven't moved into it yet. We tried to go in with Gajendra but were told unless we had official business (like an emergency) we would not be allowed in. Since we had not had breakfast yet, Patrick and I headed into the hotel restaurant to await Gajendra.

It seemed to take forever and we started to become anxious when finally Gajendra came out with a huge smile on his face. He had encountered a Christian worker who asked him some questions about the Bible and when he answered satisfactorily he granted him the visa! We all rejoiced together, thanking God for an answer to prayer – and then it was off to the airport.

There was a huge cluster of people trying to get in and finally we made our way through the crush of people. The other brothers made it as well after a little difficulty – there were some protests in the streets over the murder of a professor by the Maoists. But we hadn't seen any of that ourselves. (On the way to the airport it appeared Gajendra had gotten lost and at one point he stopped to ask for directions from a taxi driver. We drove though some back roads and ended up on the main road near the airport .... another demonstration of the providential hand of God!)

Once we got checked in and at the boarding gate we were informed that the plane was half an hour late. We would only have about an hour in Delhi to catch our flight to Pakistan. A couple of times I started to worry about whether we would make the flight or not, but each time I was reassured that we were in the Lord's hands. If we didn't make the flight, it would not be His will. I was in peace.

Arriving in Delhi we exited the plane onto the tarmac to board buses to the terminal. The heat rolled over us in waves – we had been told it was hot in July but this was brutal! Thankfully the second bus came quickly and we made our way to the terminal where we found a transfer desk and inquired about our flight to Pakistan. There were several others on our flight from Kathmandu going to Pakistan and we were all well taken care of, easily making it to the flight.

The aircraft was about 2/3 full ... the first one we had been on that wasn't just chock-a-block full. But the flight attendants were extremely nice and we arrived in Lahore 50 minutes later. We could definitely tell that all eyes were on us as the only westerners on the flight. We rode in the hotel van to the hotel and marveled at the modern streets and buildings, mixed with common rural sights of the Middle East ... donkey carts, motorcycles, three-wheeled taxis, etc.

The Pakistani brothers flew into another airport directly from Nepal and then caught a flight up to Lahore. The next morning we met for breakfast and it was off to the races. In most countries buying the equipment is a two or three day experience because you have to go to different shops for everything. In my dream we had purchased everything in one day – this would be a challenge.

We rented a taxi for a day and headed out. The first place we went was an electronics bazaar. It's difficult to explain what it's like, but it definitely is the fulfillment of the word “bazaar”. There were tiny shops everywhere, many below street level that you could only reach through tiny, steep staircases. The second place we went to had a combined speaker/amplifier and microphone that would work very well. We then went to another tiny shop and purchased 2 video projectors and 2 DVD players. Next on the list was to purchase digital cameras so the brothers could send reports back. We completed all these purchases by mid-afternoon and headed back to the hotel where we met with one of the brother's family. We went for a late lunch (4:00ish) and then headed out to check on the prices of generators. We had already decided to let them purchase the generators in their towns but we wanted an idea of the price. We also had decided to have the screens made in their town.

As we traveled around town it was evident that all eyes were on us, as they had been on the plane headed this way. However, whenever we would smile or give a “thumbs up” we would receive a very friendly response. For the most part they seemed very happy to see us. The shopkeepers offered us tea or refreshments in just about every place. On the streets there was a high level of security. All major intersections had quite a few police officers milling about. On one corner one of the senior police officers walked by and greeted us, shaking our hand and smiling broadly.

We headed back to the hotel for some training and meetings with the Babar and Suheem, the Pakistani team. We set up all the equipment, tested it and walked them through a typical night of film evangelism. Then we spent some time sharing our heart and praying for them and for the equipment. The time had gone by so quickly – it was nearly 11:00 when we finally released them. How the time flies, but we had completed everything we had set out to do in one day, just as in the dream. However, we also knew it was very important that we be here in person. Spending time with the brothers allowed us to know them better, understand their heart and make sure our heart of service and ministering came through clearly. It would be easier to just send money and not go, but it's important to have the Lord's fingerprint on who should be a part of the ministry, who should be the director, etc. It's amazing how the Lord brings affirmation to each part of the journey.

After a good night's sleep we met with them all again for breakfast along with some Pakistani pastors from various areas. We received many invitations to come do crusades, etc, but we explained that our ministry was film evangelism and that was our focus. However, it was encouraging to meet so many Pakistani pastors who are serving the Lord is this Muslim country. The official name of this country is “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan” and this is CSC's first venture into a majority Muslim country.

It was time to load up in the airport shuttle and head for India. Interestingly we have had perfect peace throughout this time, in the streets, in the bazaars, etc. But for some reason this morning it seemed the peace began to lift ... we were happy to be in the airport, through security and waiting on our plane. The Lord provided His perfect peace for us during the time we were to do our work but now it's time to move on! :) We have accomplished the work He sent us to do here. To God be the praise and glory.

We will spend the night in Delhi and head down to the southern state of Kerala tomorrow. Once we arrive in Kochi it will be a 3 hour drive from the airport to Bro. Abraham's home town. We will be in conference with the 18 Indian film teams Monday-Wednesday and Thursday we head back to the Kochi airport to catch our flight to Delhi, then our connecting flights to Chicago, Dallas and finally Alexandria. We're on the final leg of our wonderful journey. Our visit to the Philippines seems almost a distant memory but it was only two weeks ago. We thank God for the 9 film teams He has allowed us to establish in three different countries and the 18 film teams that we will get to bless in India. Thank you for your prayers and for reading the blog. Your participation and support are appreciated more than you know.

Nathan <><

P.S. I was told that some folks using the AFA filter cannot read this blog because the AFA filter blocks the address. I contacted the Bsafe Online folks, makers of the AFA filter, and they said they will unblock the address for any customer who requests it, but it must be at the customer's request. So pass the word along!

P.P.S. We arrived safely in Delhi around 5:00PM local time. We had to transfer to the Domestic airport to purchase tickets to Kochi, where we will be picked up and will drive 3-4 hours to Thirumvalla, the location of the conference. After getting our tickets for Sunday morning at 7:20AM we headed to a hotel. There was an Internet cafe nearby but they didn't have provisions for me to connect my laptop. I sent a quick email to let folks know we are OK. It is now 5:30 AM and we are in the airport, having checked in and are waiting for our flight. I'm not sure when I'll have Internet connection yet, but as soon as I do, I'll post this next blog. Sorry for the delay. (Also, I'd appreciate some extra prayers as I've picked up a stomach bug. Thanks!)

P.P.P.S. It's now 9:30PM. We are in our hotel in Thiruvalla in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It took a 3+ hour flight to Kochi (about 1200 miles south of Delhi) and then a 3+ drive through beautiful tropical southern India. I was finally able to get online in the hotel lobby after the appropriate person was found who could help me. I don't have any pictures for this update but I'll try to get some up later. Thanks for reading and for your prayers!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our Final Full Day in Nepal

Good morning!

Our final full day in Nepal dawned bright and early. I had my alarm set for 6:30AM but I awoke shortly after 5:00. I laid in bed for awhile thinking about a dream I had during the night. It wasn't long before Patrick woke up and we began visiting a little. I told him about the dream because it was so vivid.

As I've shared previously we had canceled the Pakistan portion of our trip due to not having a peace about it for security purposes. There had been a significant confrontation between the government and a radical Muslim group holed up in the “Red Mosque”. We had invited the Pakistani brothers to meet us in Nepal and had shared our concerns with them. They, too, had been aware of the significant confrontation and although they were disappointed we were not coming to Pakistan, they understood.

That's the background for my dream. During the night I dreamed that the siege had come to an end and Pakistan was peaceful. I dreamed that Patrick and I decided to travel to Lahore, Pakistan on an evening flight, purchase the necessary equipment the next day, and return to Delhi on the third day to continue to the conference with the 18 CSC film teams in India, essentially spending two nights and one full day. The dream was very vivid which is why I shared it with Patrick first thing.

After getting ready I headed downstairs to try to get on the Internet to do some email. Soon the brothers began coming down or arriving from the other hotel. One of the brothers was reading an English newspaper and the big story on the front page was that the siege of the Red Mosque had ended and Pakistan was enjoying peace again! I was stunned!

During breakfast Patrick was sharing with one of the brothers some of his favorite verses, such as the passage from Isaiah 55 that speaks of God's plans not being our plans. He also shared Proverbs 3:5-6 which speaks of delighting in the Lord and the Lord guiding your paths. The brother responded that his favorite verse was Joshua 1:8-9. Patrick opened his Bible to read it and when he read the words, “I command you, be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” When Patrick read those words he instantly thought of Pakistan and our fears that we had previously held.

Several other confirming things happened and we decided we should pray and put a fleece before the Lord. We have discovered over here that it is difficult to get flights on short notice. Most flights are booked weeks and sometimes months in advance. The only flights that would work for us would be a round trip from Delhi to Lahore leaving the next day, Thursday, and returning Saturday. We prayed and asked the Lord to confirm that if it truly was His will that we go, that there be two available tickets on those specific flights. If it was not His will, there would not be any tickets and we wouldn't force the issue.

We headed to the airline office. We got there just as they closed for lunch. Internally I wondered if I had missed it, if I had us on a wild-goose chase. We decided to take advantage of the time to price some video projectors in stores in that area. We returned after lunch and got in line. After just a brief discussion of our needs with the agent he clicked a few keys and said that it was unusual but there were two seats available on tomorrow's flight. So we asked about the return to Delhi on Saturday. He clicked a little more and then said that there were seats available for us on that flight as well! I asked him if it was normal for there to be seats available on these flights and he said absolutely not, but for some reason 2 seats were available! Imagine – two seats available on the two specific flights we had asked the Lord about!

We decided we didn't need to repeat the fleece as Gideon had done! We purchased the tickets! So, we are going to Pakistan tomorrow. We will be staying two nights and will have one full day for purchasing the equipment, just as in my dream. We've already done all the training and briefings on film ministry in general. Now it will simply be purchasing the equipment, giving the brothers a run down on how to use and care for it, pray for them and head on to our conference in southern India! Only God could put something together like this!

The rest of the day was spent with the brothers visiting, building relationships and discussing plans for Bro. Abraham and Bro. Roy to return to purchase the equipment and get the teams in Nepal initiated. They will return within 2-3 weeks after our conference in India.

We also got the opportunity to go to “Monkey Temple”, the oldest Buddhist temple in Nepal. It was nearing dark so we didn't get many good pictures. We were told that the founder of Buddhism was born in Nepal and many people trek to this temple because of its age and prestige. It's called “Monkey Temple” because it's situated in a forest on a hill overlooking Kathmandu, and there are lots of monkeys living on the grounds. We saw dozens, obviously accustomed to humans. We also saw Buddhist monks making their way around the top of the temple, chanting their prayers, some spinning prayer wheels, looking for enlightenment. How our hearts break for those caught in the endless pursuit of acceptance. We prayed that the Lord would send the light into their darkness.

We were taken around all day by Gajendra Tamang, the gracious Awana missionary who has been an invaluable help to us. As I shared previously he is attempting to secure a visa to visit the states in September to receive training at Awana headquarters that he will be able to impart to Awana workers across Asia. His appointment is at 10:00AM in the US embassy and we offered to accompany him, to offer whatever support and corroboration we could to his visa application. He was extremely grateful and agreed to pick us up at 8:30 so we could get through traffic and get there in plenty of time. His appointment shouldn't take long and he will take us to the airport for our afternoon flight to India, connecting to Pakistan.

That wraps it up for now! Thanks for reading my blogs. Please send me an email if you get a chance. I'd love to hear from folks back home. We're past the half-way mark of our trip and it's getting better and better every day. I'm convinced it's because of your prayers!!! Keep on praying!

Nathan <><

P.S. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures today. Our Internet connection was down. I wrote this during the night and jumped online real quickly before leaving the hotel. I'll write more from Pakistan and send some pictures!

Our Third Day in Nepal

Update: This messaged was edited 8/29/09 to remove identifying information, for security reasons.

Hello from the Himalayas (or at least the foothills!),

Our third day began with another breakfast together with all the brothers in the hotel. This would be our last day with the brothers from Nepal. After breakfast we retreated to our assigned private room (a small bar off the main dining room) and began with worship. We had asked each brother to prepare a short devotional and they had been sharing them throughout the time together. It was good to hear their heart. One interesting thing Patrick did was ask the brothers to tell us which languages they spoke. Between the 12 brothers representing 4 different countries (including Patrick and I) we speak a total of 24 languages! What a blessing!

DSC00291At 10:00AM we were joined by Bro. Thomagujta Lotha who works with several international missions organizations, including DAWN, OC and others. He is from the Nagaland area of India that were once fierce headhunters but who converted almost en masse over 100 years ago and have had a strong missionary mindset ever since. Over 90% of Nagaland residents consider themselves Christians today, 75% are Baptists. Bro. Lotha shared his heart for reaching the nation of Nepal and welcomed the ministry of CSC. He pledged to work with CSC using his contacts to broaden our reach. He will be a tremendous resource for us, as hopefully CSC will be for the Nepalese church.

It was time to bring the official part of our meeting to a close. After closing remarks by Patrick, Bro. Abraham and me, we shared that we did not want them to make public commitments to CSC because we did not want to put anyone on the spot nor allow peer pressure to influence anyone's decision to be a part of CSC. We asked that they each meet with us privately to share their heart. We were grateful that as we met with each one, they individually expressed a desire to partner with CSC. We told them that the leadership would spend some time praying in India and would get back with them soon as we wanted the Lord's full counsel. Once we agree on who should be a part of the CSC Nepal team Bro. Abraham and Bro. Roy will return to purchase the equipment and train them in its use. (This will happen soon after our return to the States.)

I want to take a moment to introduce one of the Nepalese brothers to you. His name is [deleted] and his has a wonderful testimony which we first heard when he submitted it to Patrick in response to the questionnaire sent out to every potential CSC candidate.:

My name is [deleted]. I am from a Hindu background of the Rai tribe in Nepal. This is a middle class caste, who worships different ancient cultural gods and goddesses, as well as idols of our own ancestors, lands, stones, rivers, big trees and mountains. I was born and brought up in a very superstitious Hindu family. As a son of Hindu it is the custom and duty to observe and follow the rituals and practices of the parents. If not, they expel them from the society, sometimes they lose their inheritance of the property in a physical sense.

In 1972 a German Christian brother, Klaus Peter Kugler, came to live in our village for 4 years to teach the Gospel of God, and to learn our language. It is through his teachings that I came to know the Lord as my Savior 27 years ago. Before I came to know the Lord, my mother was very sick. My father allowed the practice of the traditional healers for a long time, but she was not recovered. I was so sad at that time because I used to think that I would become an orphan if she died. It was then that I heard the Gospel from this German brother.

I heard the Gospel from him in the village. I accepted the Lord as my Savior. I found myself as a lost sheep and felt no reputation at all in the society. I realized I was going into the dark pit. The moment I repented for the sins committed in the past my burden was relieved. The Lord gave me new thought, speech and new way to act. I gave up all the old paths and began to walk in newness of life.

I prayed for my mother and she was healed. After this I really live with Christ and experience Him in my daily life. I was thrilled and began to share the good news have passion to serve Him. Due to my faith in the Lord and practice my parents kicked me out from my home. I even lost my inheritance. Yet I am serving the Lord with joy and happiness that is more than anything else of this world would find.

At the beginning there were six of us who believed. We started to gather every evening to worship the Lord under the tree outside the village. We were very active in the village. Many villagers believed in Jesus Christ and joined with us to pray. The number of Christians increased daily. We were terribly persecuted for living a true Christian life and preaching the Gospel

Then I was arrested for preaching. They found me in my house and bound me cruelly with ropes and began to beat me badly in front of my crying parents and wife. I was taken to the police station. That night a drunken police officer began to beat me very badly. I cried out. A 15 year old believer had followed me as far as the police station and came in to help me. The officer continued to beat me until my scream alerted another neighbor, a non-Christian boy whom I did not know. He came into the police station and tried to take away the stick. In the struggle the stick was broken. When the officer went to get another stick the boy pushed me out of the police station.

I escaped barefooted and began running in the night. I felt in my heart to not return to my village but to go to Raxaul, India to a Christian hospital. I walked all through the night – the route was narrow, hilly, forested and filled with wild animals. I found a large root to eat and later found some people who gave me some food. With much difficulty finally I reached Duncan Hospital.

Mr. Rishi Raj Acharya was very kind to me and arranged a job and a place to stay. He also helped me get word to my family that I was safe. They were happy because they had heard I was killed by the police and my body was hidden somewhere.

After some time my elder brother visited me. He told me that everything was fine now and that i could return home. But now that I had a job I didn't want to go back. My brother prevailed on me, that as the first Christian being persecuted, I had to be an example to other Christian and Hindu villagers. So I decided to return with my brother. For the next two years I was able to preach the Gospel and lead the village church. As more and more villagers believed, the Hindus became angry with us, because their sons and daughters joined us and stopped their Hindu practices. Again they reported to the police, political leaders and District Officers. Many times the police came to arrest other Christians and me. But they did not find me.

Our friend goes on to tell of further persecution again him and other Christians in that village. In every persecution the Lord used it as a witness and more believers were added. Finally in 1976 his family was arrested and deported from their native lands to Kathmandu. There he finished high school and attended Bible College. He later returned to his village on the weekends to preach in the village church and started a small house-fellowship Bible study in Kathmandu that grew into Grace Church that he pastors now, along with several other works.

What a blessing it is to know such men as these. All of the brothers have a high dedication to sharing the Gospel. All are willing to suffer, indeed, have suffered persecution for the sake of the Gospel. Nepal is less than 2% Christian. But the Christians I've met have impacted me deeply in their steely faith and trust in the Lord.

DSC00331The pastor invited us to him home for supper and we were able to meet some of his family, his wife, a son and daughter and his mother-in-law. He served us a delicious meal and we recorded the greeting above on his rooftop. We are honored that he would desire to partner with CSC and is willing to do the hard work of film evangelism for the sake of souls. His family is serving the Lord with him. His son is seeking to complete his Masters of Theology, desiring to be a greater help to his father's ministry.

After supper we headed back to the hotel to meet with the Pakistani brothers and go over the CSC Training Manual with them as they had not been here when we went through it with the Nepalese brothers. We asked them to forgive us for not being able to go to Pakistan this trip and explained how we had not had a peace about going. We apologized for not telling them that earlier and for the inconvenience of them having to travel to Nepal. Babar said on behalf of both of them that they would be willing to travel anywhere in the world to partner with CSC so that they could receive the equipment and training to reach their people. They have such a passion for the lost souls of Pakistan and even of Afghanistan!!! They are fearless in their desire to serve God and win souls! Lord, grant us more such workers. And help us to imitate them in our service to You!

That wraps it up for today. I hope you enjoyed our brother's testimony. Tomorrow we will meet with the Pakistani brothers in the morning and spend the rest of the day scouting for equipment for when Abraham and Roy return to Nepal. We hope to get a little sight-seeing in as well as we travel around town. I don't know how much of an update there will be on that type of activity and the next day we travel to India. So maybe I'll give you a little break! But thanks again for your prayers. Please feel free to email – it's good to hear from folks at home, especially to know how you're praying for us. We share those things with the brothers and that's very encouraging! (Gracias hermano Fredy y el equipo CCC Latinoamericano por sus oraciones!)

Nathan Flickr account. Most of these were taken on our drive to the pastor's house and from his rooftop.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Our Second Day in Nepal


Breakfast with the Nepalese candidatesOur second day in Nepal began early with prayer and devotion and then breakfast with the 6 brothers from Nepal that we would be meeting with over the next couple of days. While the brothers from the Philippines and Pakistan initiated contact with CSC, these brothers were recommended to us from other sources. So these meetings with them are more about introducing the ministry to them and finding out if they have the heart for film ministry. Patrick has been in contact with them for several months and they have all indicated such a desire. But we are moving slowly to make sure that we have the Lord's confirmation on each one and not just blindly appointing teams for the sake of numbers.

The 12 men gathered from 4 countries speak a combined 24 languages!The brothers we have met are all high-quality brothers. Some are pastors, others are evangelists. All have a heart for souls. One of the brothers is working in the refugee camp on the border of Bhutan and Nepal. His heart is to reach these refugees who have been displaced by the Bhutanese government. There are over 120,000 refugees who have been uprooted from their traditional homes. They live in the large refugee camps with nothing to do all day and are open to the gospel. There is a short window of opportunity because in the next year it appears that most of these will be relocated to the US, Canada, Australia and Switzerland. This brother senses the urgency and we are excited to have this opportunity.

The tower on top of one of the 'Red Chariots' being dismantledAs a side note, at breakfast time we saw the remnants of the towers that were built on the red chariots that had been a part of the Bhoto Jatra festival I wrote about yesterday. Originally I thought they were tall trees, but in reality they were bamboo towers covered with greenery. This morning we saw that they were dismantling the towers in preparation for storing the chariots until next year's festival. As we saw them taking down the symbols of their god I commented to Patrick, “Any god you have to build and later tear down is no god at all.” I was reminded of the passage from Jeremiah:

For the customs of the people are delusion;
Because it is wood cut from the forest,
The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.
They decorate it with silver and with gold;
They fasten it with nails and with hammers
So that it will not totter.
Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they,
And they cannot speak;
They must be carried,
Because they cannot walk!
Do not fear them,
For they can do no harm,
Nor can they do any good.
Jeremiah 10:3-5 NASB

After breakfast we headed back to the hotel for our first day of meetings. We opened with prayer and singing. I'm amazed that in every place we've visited the song “Lord I lift Your name on high” is known and sung with gusto. That song is not that old and yet it is well-known around the world. (In fact, in one of the places in the Philippines that we shopped they were playing it over the loudspeakers!)

Patrick leading the Nepalese brothers through the CSC PowerPoint presentationAfter worshiping together Patrick began going through the PowerPoint presentation that introduces CSC, giving the history and the current status as well as how we feel the Lord is leading us to expand. We had ordered sandwiches for lunch so we could continue visiting and after lunch Patrick led the brothers through the CSC training manual. It is a comprehensive document that Patrick has put together based on the years of experience that CSC has in film evangelism. This will be a good resource for future reference. It also helps to communicate the seriousness that CSC has about film evangelism.

Gajendra Tamang, the Awana director for Nepal, shows Patrick some of the items produced locally for the Nepalese Awana clubsBrother Gajendra Tamang, the Awana missionary who has helped us so much, had invited us to his home for supper so after the day's meetings we rode with him to his house. We were very blessed to visit his office and warehouse where the Awana materials are stored. There are over 200 Awana clubs in Nepal, most of which are supported through the Awana Adopt-A-Club program. Christian Challenge has been involved in the Adopt-A-Club program for many years so it was exciting to see firsthand the impact this program has.

Gajendra and Manju Tamang, Awana missionaries and Directors of Awana NepalBro. Tamang's wife and children welcomed us warmly into their home. We enjoyed a delicious supper of chicken and onions, fried potatoes, mangos and bananas. Everything was so tasty! After supper the pastor of the English service joined for a time of fellowship. We wrapped up the evening by praying for the Tamang family and the Awana ministry in Nepal. Bro. Tamang has an invitation to travel to Awana headquarters in Chicago for training in September and goes for his visa on Thursday. Laying hands on Gajendra's visa request, asking the Lord for favor.He has been denied once so we joined in fervent prayer that the US Embassy would grant this visa so he could receive the training and in turn train Awana workers in several countries in Asia.

Back at the hotel we met with the two brothers who had just arrived from Pakistan. It was a great pleasure to meet with them and share the CSC ministry. They shared some things about Pakistan that we did not know, including that President Musharif's government had provided more religious freedoms for minorities, which opened many doors for evangelism. They also told us that Americans were well regarded in Pakistan and hoped we would be able to visit them in their country. However, they did share that they felt the Lord had directed us in not coming right now because of the standoff at the mosque that has created significant problems in the days we would have been there. The Lord knows all things, including the future, and had directed our change in schedule. But we do look forward to one day visiting these brothers in their country, as the Lord provides.

Patrick leading the Pakistani brothers through the CSC PowerPoint presentationWe had a wonderful time visiting with them, sharing the PowerPoint presentation to catch them up to speed. At one point Patrick shared about the requirement that each CSC film team show films at least 10-12 times per month. One of the brothers asked if they were to share the films 12 days per month, what should they do the other 18 days?!?! What a great question! We explained that the number 12 was only a minimum. It represents 3 showings per week and that there is no restriction on how many showings they could have per month.

It was easy to see their heart for lost souls. They each had contacted Patrick some time back after searching for “film evangelism” on the Internet. One of the brothers had worked for some time with Campus Crusade for Christ's Jesus Film ministry, but CCC apparently is phasing out that portion of their ministry, at least in Pakistan. He has seen the power of film evangelism first-hand and wants to continue. The other brother was saved watching the Jesus film and now pastors a church in a remote area of Pakistan. He desires to use films to reach out all around his remote area, knowing how they will grow the body of Christ.

That concluded our second day in Nepal. Tomorrow will be a wrap-up day with the Nepalese brothers and some more intense training time with the Pakistani brothers. We'll also have a guest speaker in the morning, Rev. J. Thungjamo Lotha, who preached on missions Sunday morning at the Baptist church. He will share about some of the research his ministry is doing on the state of Christianity in Nepal, which will help CSC plan more effectively how to be a part of the Great Commission in Nepal. What an exciting time it is to be a part of God's family! Your prayers are being felt ... thank you!

Nathan <><

P.S. I've uploaded some more pictures that you might enjoy to my Flickr account. I hope you enjoy them.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday in Nepal

Namaste ("Greetings" in Nepalese),

DSC00227We arrived safely in the Kathmandu, Nepal airport about an hour ahead of schedule. After clearing immigration and customs we were mobbed by taxi drivers offering to take us to the city. We explained over and over that someone would pick us up ... and finally we saw the smiling faces of our hosts! Brothers Abraham and Roy from India and Brother Tamang, the Awana missionary in Kathmandu joyfully greeted us. (Brother Roy is taking the picture so he doesn't appear in it.)

Patrick had been in communication w/Bro. Tamang for some time and he had arranged much of our stay, hotel, meeting rooms, restaurants, etc. Bro. Tamang greeted us by placing delicate yellow welcoming sashes around our necks and it was off to the hotel. They told me I could ride up front so naturally I walked to the passenger side ... and there was a steering wheel there! We all laughed and I went around to the other side. (This has happened several times!) Then we headed into town, to our hotel and to our beds!

Sunday morning we arose with anticipation of being able to worship with other believers. Prio to heading out to church some of the brothers met us at the hotel and we had a wonderful breakfast together. We would be meeting with 6 candidates from all across Nepal and they would be arriving throughout the day. Our official meetings will begin tomorrow.

DSC00243We had arranged to attend an English service at the Lalitpur Baptist Church. In Nepal Christian churches worship on Saturday because that is the government prescribed day off. Sunday is the first day of the work week, but Lalitpur Baptist Church holds a special service on Sundays for the English speaking congregation, in addition to their regular service on Saturday for the Nepalese members. There were people from several nationalities, including several from Liberia, Africa who are working with the UN monitoring the elections and the transfer of power here in Nepal. It was delightful to worship with Christians from many different countries, singing familiar hymns such as “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.

DSC00235There was a guest speaker that morning who is the Nepalese representative of DAWN – Discipling A Whole Nation. He shared a wonderful message about missions and lauded the church where we were worshiping at because they had recently sent out 2 missionaries – one to Malaysia and one to the growing Nepal community in the UK!!! What an exciting thing it is to see the national churches understanding and taking on the Great Commission!

After church we headed back to the hotel and let me tell you, driving through Nepal is quite an experience! First of all, driving on the opposite side of the road is nerve-wracking. Then there's the aspect that there appear to be no traffic laws ... honking, weaving, gesturing are all the norm. But it's still scary from the front left seat with no steering wheel, and more importantly, no brake pedal!

After a wonderful lunch at a restaurant across the way, I tried to get online at the hotel to update the blog, and that was a frustrating experience. There is an Internet connection in the lobby so in the morning before church I had been able to briefly get online to check email and chat with my beautiful wife, and the connection had been ok. But in the afternoon it was horribly slow. After a couple of hours attempting to upload pictures I went across the street to an Internet cafe and tried from there. The connection was a little faster and after 3 ½ hours I was able to complete the blog, upload the pictures and send a brief video greeting for Christian Challenge's Sunday morning service.

DSC00256Interestingly, moving across the street was another of God's coincidences. From the second floor level of the Internet cafe I was able to plainly see the happenings outside in the square. There were two giant structures mounted on ancient carts, decorated with ribbons. Throughout the day the crowd swelled until there were literally thousands crowded around in a festival atmosphere. The army was on hand to provide crowd control, along with mounted police. Buddhist monks paraded into the square and a military band played in preparation for the big event. The Prime Minister climbed aboard the larger of the two carts and at the culmination of the event displayed a jeweled vest to the cheering crowd.

These carts were built to honor one of the many gods of the valley. The rain god was celebrated for providing nourishment to the ground in preparation for the planting and harvest. Supposedly hundreds of years ago one particularly pious farmer had been awarded the jeweled vest directly from the rain god and each year at this festival that act is celebrated in hopes of appeasing the god for one more year.

DSC00251As I watched the crowd I felt what Paul must have felt in Athens (Acts 17:16) as he observed the false gods being celebrated in that city. How I grieved for these people who try to appease their many deities in an attempt to scrape out an existence. If they only knew that the true God who created all that they worship longs to welcome them into His family, to forgive their sins, to give them a real reason to worship out of love, not fear! Lord, help us tell them!

During the afternoon Patrick and Abraham (the CSC Asia director, based in India) interviewed several of the brothers as they arrived. This is the first time we have met the brothers in person, although Patrick has been corresponding with them for many months. Then we headed out to supper at another restaurant across the street. I slipped out early to try to catch the live Internet broadcast of our Sunday morning service but the Internet connection was still down at the hotel and the Internet cafe was closed. While I was disappointed at not being able to watch the service, it worked out well because I was exhausted and was able to get on to bed. I'm writing this early Monday morning as we prepare to begin our full day of meetings

Please pray for us that the Lord will allow us to communicate clearly the vision and mission of CSC and have discernment as to each person's involvement in CSC as well as who the national director should be. Thank you again for the spiritual support!

Nathan <><

P.S. I've uploaded a few more pictures to: I haven't had a chance to add descriptions but perhaps you will enjoy them anyhow.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Farewell Philippines, Next to Nepal (July 7, 2007)

Hello all!

I'm writing this aboard Royal Nepal Airlines Flight 410, somewhere above China. I'll post it later but wanted to take advantage of the time on the flight. We left the Philippines this morning headed for Kathmandu and stopped over in Hong Kong. What an incredible city! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

DSC00655My last blog left off last night with the brothers getting trained on the equipment at the hotel. After the training we gathered all the equipment together for a photograph, minus the 2 projectors that will be delivered later, the power generators that will be purchased locally and the bicycles that will be purchased locally. We laid hands on the equipment and prayed for it, that it would be useful for the Lord's work, protected from damage and thievery and would last a long time. In this photo you can see the CSC Philippines team between Patrick and me. Left to right: Jessie, Elmerson and Benie. (You can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.)

There's a detail I had left out of my previous postings because it seemed insignificant, but in hindsight was more providential than we realized. There had been a mix up in the reservations for our hotel and they only had rooms for 2 nights. We had to move to another hotel for the 3rd night. It was only a minor inconvenience that we accepted as part of international travel. However, it proved to be a fulfillment of Romans 8:28, that God causes all things to work together for good for His children.

While the brothers were testing the equipment a pastor from Manila who works for the Filipino version of Lifeway saw them and introduced himself. He is bi-vocational, working with local churches around the Philippines to set up mini-bookstores in their churches. DSC00199He saw that we were playing Gospel films and introduced himself. We had breakfast with him the following morning and joined us in praying for and commissioning the brothers to the work of CSC. He will be a tremendous resource for the brothers as well as a great contact with other churches to let them know about CSC. We were very pleased to meet him and felt like it was part of God's plan for the trip. His name is Reuel and I won't tell you his last name, for reasons that will be clear in a minute.

I asked Bro. Reuel to share about something I had been reading regarding the Filipino church's take on world missions. Thousands upon thousands of Filipinos work in other countries in service areas and caring for children, especially in areas like Saudi Arabia. The Filipino church is training their members in evangelism before sending them out to work in foreign countries. They are exporting tent-making missionaries. Reuel confirmed that not only is this true, but his father is the leader of an underground church in Saudi Arabia, serving in a trade by day, evangelizing by night!

There have been security problems at times, including many Christian workers being exported for sharing their faith. Reuel's father was almost nabbed in one raid on a secret meeting, but he left just before the religious police arrived. Others have not been so fortunate, some being arrested and deported for their role. However, there is one bright spot ... the world's attention has been diverted to fighting terrorism and that is allowing the believers a little more freedom in these closed countries. So God uses even terrorism to cause His Good News to reach the world! I'm purposefully not including the Reuel's last name to avoid any problems for his father. But we are grateful that the Lord brought him across our path.

This morning we got up early to pack, eat breakfast and head for the airport. Before we left I did a brief recording of the brothers introducing themselves that I thought you might like to see:

We had held off on selecting a country director until the last minute. Yesterday morning Patrick and I both felt a confirmation that Brother Elmerson (Elmer) was the one but we wanted to have some sort of confirmation from the brothers. Last night we gathered in our room and asked them if the Lord had directed them in this matter. Brothers Jessie and Benie told us that they had discussed privately that they felt Bro. Elmer should be the director. They had not told Elmer this so it was a surprise to him. It was a great confirmation to us and we rejoiced in the Lord's direction. We laid hands on Bro. Elmer to commission him as director and then on Benie and Jessie. After sharing some scriptures and final prayer, we departed the hotel for the airport.

In some ways we felt like Paul on his missionary travels who would go to a city, establish a work and then move on, not sure if he would ever see those new believers again. We shared with them that we may not ever see them in person again. It is our desire to do so and we will be in contact via the Internet, but it's possible we'll not see each other until the Lord returns. But we're part of the family of God and part of the CSC family and that connection is strong ... it is a great encouragement to them to know they are not alone.

Our flight to Manila was uneventful except that once again the Lord allowed us to have an exit row. On every leg of the trip we have asked for exit row seating because they have more leg room and we've received it on just about every flight, thanks be to God! DSC00214On the first flight there were two exit rows, the first having a little more leg room than the second and we were assigned to the second. But even that turned out to be a blessing because the first exit row seats did not recline! (Patrick didn't want me to upload this picture because he didn't want y'all to think we were enjoying ourselves too much! )

On the next flight from Manila to Hong Kong we got exit row seats again and got to visit with the stewardesses who sat in front of us facing backwards as we took off. The Lord granted us favor and they took really good care of us, even offering us footrests for our feet! I just had to get a picture of that! Isn't God good?! (These little perks the Lord gives us are greatly appreciated. For example, today we will have been on three different flights, having left our hotel at 9:00AM and getting to our hotel in Kathmandu over 15 hours later! Whew! Thank You, Lord, for watching out for us!)

One funny thing on that flight was they told us the meal offerings would be a choice of roasted chicken or pork belly. I've never been offered pork belly on a flight before and we joked that even if we asked for chicken they would be out by the time they got to us ... and sure enough they were. Then one of the stewardesses “found” two chicken dinners on another tray, but by then we had worked ourselves up to eating the pork belly lunch ... and it was delicious!

Flying into Hong Kong was spectacular ... the view of the city out the window is absolutely majestic! This has got to be one of the most modern cities in the world. There were what appeared to be literally HUNDREDS of skyscrapers, each gleaming in the sun, stunningly beautiful. We were simply awestruck at the appearance of this city and the airport was just as spectacular. In America we often feel we lead the world in technology, architecture, etc, but we felt like “country boys come to the city” in Hong Kong! What a visual impression this city makes! (For one impressive view, check out this page.)

We were concerned that we didn't have much time in our layover in Hong Kong to make our connecting flight but we were directed to some kind transfer agents who helped us get our luggage from one airline to the next and provided exit row seating for us, once again! We split up for a bit, Patrick to pick up some souvenirs and me to connect through the free WiFi to the Internet to send a couple of emails and update the Christian Challenge website. It still had the VBS info on it, so I was able to connect to my computer in Pineville to update the page and put a link to this blog. DSC00225(Thanks, David, for fixing the VNC connection!)

I'm going to end today's update here. We've just been served a delicious supper by our courteous Nepalese flight attendants followed by tea. Patrick tells me to get used to drinking lots of tea and that I'm about to be in for a culture shock in Nepal and India. He and I have traveled all over Latin America together but he's already been to India and Nepal and knows what to expect. I'm looking forward to experiencing it and sharing it with you. If you survived this far, thanks for reading!

Nathan <><

P.S. I've uploaded a few more of my pictures to my Flickr account. You can view them normally at here or as a slideshow. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wrapping Up Day in Cagayan de Oro

Hello all,

Our last full day in Cagayan de Oro started early again, as usual. Since our bodies are not adjusted to being 13 hours in the future, we tired easily during the day when we would be sleeping at home. And it's easy to wake up early. Patrick woke up sometime after 3:00AM and started reading his Bible with his flashlight. CSCAsia-2007-07-05 Patrick 043I had my alarm set for 6:00AM but woke up again around 5:00AM without the alarm.

We got together with the brothers for a time of devotion before breakfast. We worshipped the Lord together with song and then we asked each one of them to share something from the Lord. Patrick started us out with the Gospel account of "casting your nets on the other side of the ship". He shared with the brothers that at times we will be tired but the Lord will ask us to try "again". He also shared that we can call on others to help, just as the disciples did, and they can help us through prayer and other ways. It was very a appropriate beginning. Then each brother in turn shared some scriptural insights and I wrapped it up before we spent a time in prayer together and headed down for breakfast. All three of these brothers are pastors and it was enjoyable to hear them share from God's word.

CSCAsia-2007-07-05 Patrick 045Then it was off to town to finalize the purchase of the video projectors, pick up the screens that we had made and finish up some odds and ends. We rode Jeepneys all day expect for once we rode a tricycle, at my request. Once was enough! I just thought the Jeepneys were tough for a big boy to get in and out of ... the trikes are much smaller. They are essentially a miniature Jeepney powered by a motorcycle. The cost is the same for Jeepney and tricycle, 6 pesos (about 15 cents per person per ride). Patrick took of picture as I was about to get out. I promise my weight didn't make it look like it was doing wheelies ... they're built that way. Honest! :) After riding in both tricycle and Jeepneys, I'll take the Jeepney any time!

While we were in the tricycle Patrick was reading his Bible and he shared a verse from 2 Chronicles 26:14 where it talks about King Uzziah providing the proper equipment for his troops. He shared that is what we are doing, providing the proper equipment to the CSC troops so they can do their job more effectively. I asked him to repeat it into the microphone so that you could hear his heart. Click below to check it out on YouTube:

After we finally got through ordering the equipment, picking up the screens, purchasing foam for the suitcases, etc, we headed back to the hotel for some training. It's amazing how long it takes to get things down here. There's no Walmart or Radio Shack so you have to go to different places to get different things. One example is we couldn't find any pre-made extension cords anywhere. DSC00189 So we had to purchase the wiring and plugs to make up ourselves. We'll be purchasing small generators for the brothers in the more remote areas, and they'll need longer extension cords to get the projector and sound equipment away from the sound the generator will make. After receiving permission from the management, Patrick and the brothers set up the equipment in the mezzanine level above the lobby while I came down to write this blog and upload some pictures.

I've uploaded 33 more pictures to my Flickr account which you can view normally or as a slideshow. I put comments on all of them so hopefully they'll sort of walk you through our day. We will be meeting for supper in just a bit and will finalize several things with the brothers this evening, among them is selecting a national coordinator. We will also have a time of commissioning - laying hands on them and praying for them as well as for the equipment. They also will sign a contract that specifies their understanding of their duties and responsibilities towards CSC and that they will not use the equipment for any other purpose than for film evangelism.

CSCAsia2007-07-06Nathan 077As we were walking back to the hotel this afternoon I took a lot of pictures of different people. But there was one picture that just stood out to me. And old cobbler was set up on the sidewalk, working on old shoes. I asked him if I could take his picture and he nodded yes. I respectfully took his picture as he looked up with his tools in his hands. The weathered look about his face, the toussled hair, the worn hands holding aged tools spoke to my heart. It's like in this one picture was the call of the whole nation, saying, "Will someone give me some good news?" Thank you guys so much for making this trip possible, for supporting us with your prayers, for believing in the ministry of Christians Sharing Christ. Because of you, over 80,000 men, women and children like this man accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior in over a dozen countries around the world. And because of you, many more will come to saving faith in Jesus in the Pilippines, Nepal, Pakistan and India. And as a good friend of mine often says, "That's what it's all about." Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Nathan <><

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Equipment Purchasing Day!

Our second day in Cagayan de Oro began with the opportunity to chat via Instant Message with a couple of loved ones at home ... in fact, I got to watch a little of our Wednesday night service live via the Christian Challenge webpage. It was wonderful to get to hear some of the worship and a little of David Stellwagon's message. The Internet has totally changed our lives in so many ways that we probably take them for granted.

We had a wonderful breakfast and a great time of prayer before heading out to purchase equipment for the three film teams. We started out at a fabric store, picking out the material for the screens and giving instructions on how they were to be sewed. The seamstress will have the three screens ready for us tomorrow. In the photo Bennie, Jessie, Patrick and Elmerson discuss the particulars of the three screens with the seamstress. The fabric store had every type of fabric imagineable, and some I never would have imagined. (They also had a large selection of shoe soles for making shoes, especially tennis shoes, believe it or not.) This is typically how CSC arranges for screens in each country. It's more cost effective and you get what you want. Another advantage of using cloth screens is that the projected movie is generally visible from both sides, allowing for larger audiences to see the films. (Of course this doesn't work well for subtitles!!! )

Then it was back in another Jeepney to head to a mall where Bro. Elmerson had already scoped out some of the equipment. We used Jeepneys to transport ourselves all day long. It cost about 10 cents per person to ride as long as you figure out which one to get on. They run routes around town and you get get just about anywhere fairly cheaply. (In this picture you can really see the Jeep influence on the front. I was told the name Jeepney is a combination of "Jeep" and "Nissan". Another theory is the "ney" comes from "knee" since people sit knee to knee in the back, facing each other.

Every one is unique, a reflection of the owner or driver. We saw some absolutely beautiful ones around town that really impressed us. It was a little hard to get in and out for a big fellow like me, but it's a great method of transportation. There are also a lot of tricycles on the road, both motorized and human powered. I did get the chance to ride in the front on one of our Jeepney jaunts and so I videoed a little bit from the passenger seat. You can take a look below:

Unfortunately the store we visited didn't have the projector we needed but we were able to purchase some amplified speakers and DVD players. So it was off to another mall, then another mall, then some other stores, then back to the original mall to pick up the speakers and DVD players. We were able to purchase one projector but we're still looking for two more. There are several stores that have projectors but a very important feature to us is the projector must have a cleanable filter. So many of our films are shown outdoors that we need to protect the equipment as much as possible.

I took several pictures of different things that you might enjoy. You can see the pictures I took at: You may want to view them as a slide show.

I just have to share one more piture here, though. We ate lunch at a Japanese tea room in one of the malls and after lunch we ordered a common dessert called "Halo Halo" which means "mix mix". It's a mixture of purple-colored vanilla ice cream, red and green jello, yellow corn and some brown root along with something else I don't remember, all on a bed of crushed ice and sprinkled with corn flakes. I didn't order one but Patrick did. He only ate the ice cream! (You can see the picture of Patrick and the dessert on my Flickr site.

We finished up our shopping by buying sturdy plastic suitcases for each man to carry and store the equipment in (lined with foam) and headed back to the hotel. We had to take two taxis this time because we had so much equipment. We still need two more projectors so Bro. Elmer is out scouting some stores as I type this. We'll finalize the purchases tomorrow and do equipment training as well. Then Saturday we head back to Manila to catch our flight to Hong Kong, then to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Well, that about wraps it up for today. We're all pretty tired so we'll be getting to bed fairly early. (I was up entirely too late last night!) I wish I could say we've adjusted to the time zone difference but you just don't adjust to a complete swapping of day and night very easily. But we're coping and God is giving us strength. Thank you for your prayers, comments, emails and support. We are very encouraged. Talk to you tomorrow!

Nathan <><