STORIES from a missionary: Luke Smith

2.22.2015 |

matthew 28:19 says "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  Luke Smith shares his story of traveling from village to village through the mountainous terrain of Nepal.  Read his story below:

“for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” -Romans 10:13-15
One of the questions I have encountered most when it comes to Missions is why? Why go on Missions? My straightforward answer would be that we’re commanded too. In Matthew 28 and Acts 1, Jesus makes it pretty clear that these commandments are not only for certain Christians, but they are for every single person who claims to be a follower of Jesus. It’s a part of the job description. Missions and making disciples isn’t a job for the professional Christians, but a profession for all Christians.

So, this past summer I got the opportunity to go to Nepal.  Honestly, I had no idea what to expect going into the summer. I had been to India the summer before, so I knew what to expect from the cultural aspect; however, I didn’t have a lot of information about what I was supposed to do, so there was a lot of uncertainty going into the summer. I knew I was going to be going into villages, but that was about it. My partner and I had heard that we might be gone for 2-3 weeks at a time hiking through the mountains with limited food and water. We also heard that we might only be gone for 3-4 days at a time. All of this led to leaning and trusting on the Lord more than I ever have in trying to prepare for this.

After getting into Nepal, we met with our supervisor to learn exactly what we would be doing. Luckily, it was not going to be quite as intense as we had previously heard, for the most part. We were stationed in the capital, and we would be traveling out from the city with our translator. The trips lasted anywhere from 3 days to 12.  For some background on Nepal, less than 1% of the 28.7 million are known Christians. The unreached population(the number of people who have had little to no access to the gospel) is 28.4 million. We actually got the opportunity to try and decrease this number a little bit.

This trip out of the city would actually be the bulk of my summer. I ended up having to leave after about 30 days in Nepal, and this trip lasted for 12 days.  For this trip, we had one village that we wanted to go to.  This village was full of people who had never heard the name Jesus Christ. Our connection to this village was a national pastor that grew up in this village. So, we went to pick him up and headed towards this village. The thing about this village is that there is no road to this village, so the only way to get there is about a two day hike up and down mountains in the middle of the Himalayas. After taking the bus (buses were another story in their own.. just imagine riding in a school bus on dirt/gravel roads for roughly 10-12 hours, then multiply that by like 100 and you have how bad these bus rides were) as far as we could, we slept in a church for the night. The next morning, we left around 7 am and took off towards our village. After about 2 hours of hiking we come to a clearing where our translator points to a village that’s about 4 mountains over from where we are and he told us that’s where we’re headed. Now, this would not have been very difficult if there was a bridge or something that connected each mountain where we could just walk across. But the only way to get from one mountain to another is to go all the way down the mountain you’re on, then most of the way up the next mountain just to go right back down it and so on until you reach your desired mountain.

We started our up and down trek to the village, and I would be lying to you if I sat here and said that it was easy or fun. The only way to put it was that it was miserable. I’ve done my fair share of playing 6 or 7 soccer games in one weekend in the middle of the Mississippi summer and all types of weight lifting while in high school, but I’ve never been as physically exhausted as I was during this trek. I had to be in constant prayer for strength just to make it. My prayer was basically, “God, if you don’t help me up this mountain, I’m not going to make it”. So, we’re having to stop every 10-15 minutes so my partner and I can catch our breath and drink some water. However, our pastor friend never used this for just a break, every time we stopped to rest, he would flag down the first person that passed by to share the gospel with them. At first this was hard to get used to because when we left, I was thinking that we have this one village we’re trying to get too, and then once we get there we can start sharing the gospel. This seems to be a pretty common way of thinking in America, that we have to wait until we get to where we’re going to share the gospel, but that’s not the case at all. The idea behind “Go” in Matthew 28:19 is not go and once you get there to make disciples, but rather as you’re going, you need to make disciples. This is exactly what our pastor friend was doing. We did have an end point that we were trying to get too, but he was sharing the gospel as we were going. Our pastor made me rethink how I view the Great Commission.

After spending the night in a guest house we started hiking again, and after about 4 hours, we arrived in our destination village. We dropped off our backpacks at our pastor’s parents’ house and started our rounds through the village. We spent the next 4-5 hours walking around the village to different houses so our pastor could share the gospel with the people living there. This was also kind of hard for me at first because my partner and I were hardly talking at all; we were really just sitting there for most of the time. It kind of hit us after a little while that we could spend this time in prayer for the people that were being shared with. So most of our day was actually spent saying nothing, but just being in a constant state of prayer for the conversations our pastor friend was having. We spent that night in his parent’s house, where we had pigeon for dinner (which wasn’t actually that bad). The next morning we started our trek out, and we headed to a local school where our pastor knew the principle. After about two hours we arrived at the school, where we got to share the gospel with over 100 children!

So, over the course of two days, we were able to share the gospel with roughly 120-130 people who had never heard the name Jesus before! This fact alone made every bit of the miserable hiking completely worth it. Even if only one person who had never heard the gospel heard it during this trip, it would have been worth it. My discomfort, my pain, 8 days without a shower, all of it was worth knowing that a small handful of people now have heard the greatest news they could ever hear. While we didn’t see anyone decide to follow Jesus, we were obedient to go and share with them. That’s all we’re called to do, our success isn’t determined by the number of people who decide to follow Jesus, but rather by the number of people we share with.

Thank you for taking the time to read this; it was definitely a summer that I will remember for the rest of my life. I would highly suggest anyone who has the chance to serve somewhere to take that opportunity and go, you will not regret it!

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up next: Gracie Irby tells us about her future trip with JOURNEY

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