Connecting with Nepal

The Setting

Over the last three years, the church that Paige and I are apart of has entered into the conversation of global missions. The bulk of this conversation has been within the context of an organization called BILD International that provides leadership training and church planting resources worldwide. Their domestic City Church Network, is an intra-state network of churches focusing on training leaders and planting churches here in the United States while partnering with an international church to spread the gospel to an entire country. Our church, Noble City, has entered into discussion with and has sent key leaders to encourage and understand the mission that is unfolding in Nepal.

This has been an ongoing conversation. While Paige and I have not been directly involved in the ministering to the Nepalese people, it is our hope to travel to Nepal to see the work that is being done there. This desire is always heightened during the month of November as we have either traveled to the BILD International conference that takes place in Ames, Iowa and/or have been visited by the Nepalese country leader, Harka, who is responsible for the training of leaders and networking of Nepalese churches.

Conditions in Nepal during Flooding

Harka

As you can see from the photo, Harka may be short in stature, but he has a warm heart and an encouraging personality. It is always a pleasure to be in his company when he comes to visit or we attend the conference. He quietly observes everything and then slowly responds, thinking through his words. Harka has a strong grasp of the English language and world affairs, as most international, high-networkers do. You could place him in any situation, amongst any kind of people, and both parties would depart from each others’ company with a friend for life.

Last week, Harka spent six days with our church in York, Pennsylvania. It was our pleasure to host him for a dinner one evening, inviting some our friends to the conversation that centered around the work being done.

Harka, Paige, and myself from November 2016.

The Mission

Over the course of the evening, our conversation ranged from world affairs to what was going on in each other’s lives. As we were not able to attend the international conference this year, and our time together was limited, we were most interested to discuss how the gospel was progressing and what the pressing needs were. Work is, as is often, slow progress and the needs are many. I will share with you the most interesting and relevant work that is being done.

Printing Materials

Harka and team have set up a small print on demand shop. Think Kinkos in Nepal. They can take in work from those who require printing and use the gains to offset the costs of printing materials for the gospel and training to go forward. However, the demand for training materials outpaces the funds quite considerably. There is a need to print a thousand copies of fourteen booklets – the First Principles series – each cost about a dollar to make. These materials have been translated into one of eight Nepali languages (there are 127 altogether) and are ready to be printed. Each series of books represent great training to an individual leader, multiple leaders, or many congregants who belong to a church.

The First Principles series sets up the gospel and the ways of Christ, teaching its readers in a similar manner to how the first church and early church did in the book of Acts. To learn more about this series, click here. The books Harka is printing is a direct translation of the English materials. Paige and I have worked through many of the books with our church context.

I will say that the materials are not the only training resource these leaders receive. Harka is the leader of the network that is training pastors, whom go out and train other faithful men. There is much diligence to the work that is being done to make sure Christ’s doctrine is taught soundly and guarded faithfully to be used correctly. Harka’s participation in the BILD network offers guidance and training as well.

Printed books for training.

Radio Broadcasting

This is perhaps the need that I have heard Harka speak about least – it may also be the newest project he is working on. There is an opportunity for a radio station to be set up in one of the many cities in Nepal. The project is inexpensive, costing only $8,000, and would allow for the network to reach one million people. Airtime would be split between educational broadcasts that build up the community in common sense ways, Christian broadcasting of the gospel, and time sold to other programs. The messaging would be closely regulated for healthy content.

Farming

Paige has been having an ongoing conversation with Harka about farming, public health, and nutrition. It was clear Harka was eager to talk about the agrarian needs of his community. Less network building or large broadcasting, a farm in a semi-urban context would offer much to the local church and community Harka leads in. Jobs, relationships, opportunity to share the gospel, food for sustenance, food for income, and community working for a common goal are just some of the good that would come from a farm.

The major obstacle is funding and access to land. Land is quite expensive and much of it is being developed as Nepal is a small but growing country. In Nepal, land is measured in bighas. One bigha is 1.67 acres, and costs between $20,000 and $30,000 in a city like Damak. A high price for a church in a country where salaries are often counted in the single or tens of dollars a month.

But the reward would far outweigh the cost. Harka was excited to speak about the purpose it would give many people as it provided jobs and hopes – not of self-fulfillment, but survival. Their current progress towards the goal of saving for land is perhaps 30% and does not include tools, materials, and other supplies that would be needed to start a functioning farm.

The Struggle

I want to take a moment to mention the challenges facing Nepal. An anti-conversion law was just formally passed by the government last week. It is now illegal and punishable to evangelize and to convert a Nepalese person. These acts carry a five-year prison sentence and up to a $500 fine. This law hinders the expansion of the gospel by causing fear amongst those in the Nepalese church and to those who would be ministered to. Harka says there is constant fear of when the church is meeting in his home and it is becoming hard to evangelize in public. Read this article published in Christianity Today for more information.

Parting Words

There is much work to be done in Nepal. There is also much to be done here at home. The first step is to build up and train godly men and women who can perpetuate the mission. This is accomplished through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the work of faithful leaders, and access to inexpensive, quality resources that set up belief in Christ and adherence to sound doctrine. Then we can look out to our neighborhoods, region, and the globe.

However, we must strive to have a conversation in both a local and global context at all times. By doing so we reap the rewards of encouragement, shared insight, resource, service to one another, weeping together, and brotherly affection that characterize Christ’s Church.

It is my hope that this incomplete and sporadic brief on the mission in Nepal sheds some light on the work that is taking place there. It is also my hope that if you have made it this far and are not a Christian, you would please reach out to talk about the fullness of life that should be apparent from the loving works being conducted from one people to another. Finally, if you would like to give to the mission in Nepal, please send me an email – sethnenstiel@gmail.com – or visit give.noblecitychurch.org and select the Nepal Partnership. Your gift is tax deductible as it is stewarded by a 501c3 non-profit.

 

100 Billion Times

Press on the post title to jump through and watch the video, if you can’t see it.

Moved to tears this morning over the lyrics of this video. Reflecting on my own arrogance and pridefulness.

These things, along with thankfulness, are what I have been struggling with lately. At times, it’s completely blinding.

So thankful for a path to life.

Preserve Me O Lord

There were many times over the course of our most recent trip that I reached for the words, Preserve me O Lord, for in You I take refuge (Psalm 16:1).

When you find your life in danger – even danger you’ve willingly placed yourself in – it’s easy to reach for these words. And the danger was real.

In the last week I’ve taken six flights, climbed several mountains in crazy weather, hiked on a glacier, encountered wild animals including bears and moose, driven hundreds of miles through snow, sleet, rain, and 80 mile-an-hour winds next to cliffs and rivers, and generally lived more daringly than I have at most points in the rest of my life.

It is in these moments that I called out to God for preservation. To keep me from dying. For Him not to forget about me. Which is an incredible thing to pray for!

I wanted to not die probably hundreds of times this past week. But what’s more is the fact that I wanted to live as well, for…

In Your presence is fullness of joy  (Psalm 16:11)

I sat in Seattle airport waiting for a flight, memorizing this verse using hand motions that I created. Anything to help me remember it and the surrounding Psalm. Onlookers – excluding my wife who sweetly laughed at my tiny commotion knowing what I was doing, although with some jest – probably thought I was crazy.

But I’m not crazy.

As I was begging the Lord to preserve me and my wife by praying Psalm 16, I was able to renew my mind in the fact that by praying I was entering into His presence. That joy would come from these moments of seeking Him. And that by hoping to be in His presence, I was also assuring myself of the future joy spent with God and Christ. Forever.

With this Psalm about preservation and joy, I was excited to live. Not just for this life, but for an eternal life. To live this life glorifying the Lord, so that in the next I may have pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

Here’s to God’s great love, His promises of fullness of joy when we draw near to Him, the preservation offered in eternal life with Christ, and the knowledge that when we give Him the glory, our faith grows stronger (Romans 4:20).

A hope

It’s been a long six years from the time I left college with a lot of hope for the future. Many things have crashed and burned in that time. I just want to tell you that if you’re facing hard times, there is hope.

Here is a list of some of the things that have happened –

  • I wound up in the ER in Taiwan because I couldn’t breathe.
  • Watched my father be diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
  • I was terribly selfish at times during my father’s illness.
  • My father passed away.
  • I lost one grandmother to Leukemia.
  • And lost the other grandmother to infection.
  • I wrecked one car.
  • The other car died on me.
  • I injured a knee and thought I might need surgery.
  • I broke the cartilage in my wrist, in two places.
  • Which made me leave my career as a photographer.
  • I’ve suffered overwhelming stress, that made me physically ill for months.
  • I missed paying the sales tax for my business and got an angry letter from the government.
  • I had my wife need surgery under anestisia.
  • I watched photographed my wife break her arm.
  • Fought with my wifre to the point of tears.
  • Watched my sister get divorced.
  • Watched love ones be diagnosed with cancer.

You can always reach out to me. I’m happy to share with you what’s been keeping me going.

A thought on the Internet of Things

From a young age, I’ve loved the internet. I have always been fascinated with the way you could spin something into existence, publish a thought you had just moments before, and impact the world – even if it is just to those few lives around you. It was the medium through which I first became an artist. I used to publish “blogs” in high school when I was still using a text editor to write my sites. I also distributed information – I would put class resources online for my friends to access. I remember always being fascinated by the statistics of how many visits my site received daily.

Another component of the internet that I’ve loved since being a teenager is the transference of cross-discipline knowledge. Going through college I chose the route of a computer scientist, then went towards business, before settling on studying photography. It’s always been hard for me to choose what I want to learn about!But with the internet, I could study architecture, statistics, programming, social sciences, and leadership. I was, and am still, devoted to learning. Today I’m consumed with theology and data science. The world is smaller than ever.

I’m writing this to remind you, and myself, of two things. First, to remind you of the vast resource that is in place around us. You can learn about anything you want to, at any time, almost from anywhere. This does not mean you can be whatever you want to be, but you can at very least be knowledgeable and start the journey. With the tool of the internet, many journeys you take, you won’t finish. But almost always you will be better for it.

Second, not to get wrapped up in becoming – learning, growing, toiling, working, striving, gaining – that you miss out on the real world. The internet is not the real world. For many of us who spend much of our days on computers working (I create digital marketing for a living) the internet often transcends reality. I wake up thinking about work, and I actively need to renew my mind to stop this. So as much as you can learn, work, and grow online, please turn off your computer, put down your phone, or better yet, leave your phone at home. Get out there, be in relationships, mature in life and not only online and in your head. For the adage still stands – it’s not what you know it’s who you know.

But in the end, it’s not who or what you know, it’s how you impacted lives.

Three thoughts on Bing Ads

Supplement Your Adwords Campaigns / Target Older Customers

Bing Ads are a great way to supplement your PPC advertising. Bing covers a decidedly older marketplace than Google. This is due to many of their customers using the default settings of their browser or smartphone. If your product or service is fitting for an older population, you should definitely be using Bing Ads.

Bing’s search volume is growing, while their CPC remains well below Google’s. Listen to Episode #338 of the Marketing School Podcast for a quick breakdown as to why Bing is worth your attention.

Transferring Your Account

Bing makes it easy to transfer your Adwords Account through an automation process. Bing even allows you to check for updates on an ongoing basis. In my experience, migrating an account from Google to Bing takes only a few minutes (depending on the size of the account). Be sure to check the campaign settings once you’ve migrated your information. Bing’s location settings are not the same as Google’s and I noticed that my client’s account was targeting a far broader area on import. There may be other changes that you will need to navigate as well to keep your settings consistent.

Tracking Conversions with Bing&lt

Bing’s native conversion tracking isn’t as user-friendly as Google’s. It’s older and more manual to integrate. If you are familiar with hard-coding events tracking through Google Analytics or with setting up tags in Google Tag Manager, then you should quickly be able to adapt Bing’s UET (Universal Event Tracking). Simply add the code to the website with the events you want to track. If you need to add an onClick event, then use Google Tag Manager to publish the UET tag and then push the additional Javascript based on the action. There are numerous ways you can define a click action in Google.

Please note that if you are using onClick events through Google Tag Manager, Bing will not be able to see and verify your conversion on your website until it happens for the first time. Once a user completes your conversion event, this will publish to your Bing account on the conversion goals page.

Final Thoughts

Bing Ads are worthwhile to increase your reach. Since account transfer is automated, moving from Google to Bing is a breeze and requires a little oversight and tweaking. Definitely add Bing Ads to your digital marketing efforts for increased exposure and sales at a lower CPA.

To find out how we can help you set up or transfer an account to Bing Ads, reach out to: sethnenstiel@gmail.com. Thanks and happy marketing!