freely distributing,
publicly proclaiming,
going, mobilizing

to the jewish people first,
and also to the gentile nations
am israel chai

am israel chai

Ricky & Christian bare witness to two Israeli backpackers on a trail high up in Nepal's Annapurna Himalaya.
Ricky & Christian bare witness to two Israeli backpackers on a trail high up in Nepal's Annapurna Himalaya.

Over the past few weeks there has been a big increase in attacks from Palestinian Muslims on the Jewish Israeli citizens. The media has been covering these attacks, but if you simply follow the misleading headlines then you will fail to understand what is happening over there. A headline usually reads something like: “Another Palestinian Gunned Down in Israel.” However, when you read the full story you will find that the Palestinian mentioned had just crashed his car into a family of Jews at a bus stop and then jumped out with a knife to stab as many Jews as possible. Do be careful as you read the news. The anti-Jewish news outlets around the world are purposefully misleading the masses to incite hatred for the Jewish people. Palestinians have been emboldened to individually attack Jewish citizens because of a move by the UN to allow the Palestinian flag to be flown at its headquarters in New York City even though Palestine is not officially a country. In the same vote the “Holy See” was also approved to raise a flag at the headquarters. Trust me, events like this confirm that these days are the end times spoken of in the Bible. Typically, when attacks start happening in Israel an organized terrorist group will claim to be at the head of the attacks. This allows the Israeli government to focus its efforts on retaliating against the particular terrorist group and end each new wave of violence. However, since the attacks are now sporadically occurring by the hand of unorganized individuals from Palestine, the Israeli government has a much more difficult problem to solve. Many Israelis that I have been talking to here in Nepal have intimated great concern and distress about what is happening right now in their country. There just never seems to be a solution to the centuries of bloodshed in the ancient land of Canaan. When I hear the Jewish people make such dismal statements, my heart breaks with them. But, unlike most Israelis, I have the blessed hope of knowing the resurrected Jewish Messiah (1Corinthians 15:9). When the prophet Ezekiel was with the captives of Judah, the Lord spoke to him about the great hope for the sons of Israel that have put their faith in the LORD and His appointed Messiah, Yeshua ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Christ).

“Thus saith the Lord God ; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations; Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 36:13-14).

Ezekiel is prophesying here of the coming kingdom of Messiah and the peace that will be in the land of Canaan. God will certainly give rest to the land that has been trodden under foot of the Gentiles throughout this dispensation (Luke 21:24). Many things Ezekiel prophesied about the Jews have come to pass throughout history but a simple reading of Ezekiel will reveal to any believer that many things have yet to be fulfilled for the Land of Israel, her people, and the city of Jerusalem. In fact, if you study Ezekiel you will even see some passages directly related to the current events of our lifetime. I do not hesitate to tell you that God has never forsaken this world. God, having used the church throughout the last two millennia, has fulfilled the words spoken in the opening chapters in the book of Revelation. God obviously did not stop working in the world when he shut down the work with Israel so long ago. And, He will not be done working in the world when He shuts down the work of the church. Right now is the time for God to shift His work in the world from using the Church back to His use of Israel. In doing so, the whole earth will know that Jehovah is the God of Israel and that He alone controls all things. Please take a moment and read through Ezekiel 37. Here you read about the Valley of the Dry Bones, a reference to the Jewish people. Twenty-five hundred years ago, Ezekiel wrote this chapter to explain how the nation of Israel will come into existence again but that the inhabitants will not know the Lord. The Spirit of God is not in them. This is a current event straight out of the prophetic books of the Bible! I know this is certainly the case with the Israeli people I meet and talk to today. They are an incredible people, and God miraculously placed Israel back onto our modern maps in 1948 after a nearly two-thousand year absence. What an astounding event for anyone who has read the Bible. But, as Ezekiel 37 shows, most Jewish people from Israel do not know the LORD. And, therefore, they do not have God’s Spirit alive within them.

IMG_8357 (1)
IMG_8357 (1)

One day soon, however, the prophecy of God’s Spirit awakening the Jewish people and “remembering their sins no more” will come to pass (Jeremiah 31). The entire Jewish nation of Israel will turn to the Lord together with one voice of genuine repentance. Until that day, we will work to plow the ground and teach the Jewish people about the true Messiah. This really should be a primary work of faithful Christians today since we do see the nation of Israel back on the map and God shaping up the Middle East in a way to consummate the fulfillment of His promises. We must be about ministry to the Jewish people. When Jesus returns to the earth, the Jewish people will recognize their Redeemer. They will know him as the man who humbly walked the dirty roads of the Galilee; a land right there in their own country. They will realize that all of the Gentiles that told them the stories of Jesus were actually right. They will realize that the Mashichim (Jewish Christians) were walking the correct Jewish path that every other Jew ignored or hated. And, when Jesus returns, they will submit their hearts to the Lord in national repentance and they will know the Holy One whom they had pierced and have for so many lifeless generations rejected (Matthew 27:25). A brief look at Zechariah 12 spells it out so clearly. At this I proclaim: “Am Israel Chai!” (May Israel live!)

As Jesse mentioned in his previous update, The Blessed Hope, Christian Parks arrived safely here in Nepal and the two of us have been out on the streets sharing the gospel with Jews, Nepalis, and many disgruntled Americans and Europeans. It seems that the descendants of Japheth (Europeans) have decided to end their tolerance of the Jewish Messiah. Christianity flourished in Europe and America but, my friends, those days are done. While Christian and I were preaching in the tourist area of Kathmandu, one Chinese man stood to watch the scene with shock on his face at how much the older white males simply could not control their expressions of anger and hatred towards the precious and gentle name of Jesus Christ. It is like an image from The Exorcist! I have seen devils manifest themselves from witchcraft, Catholic worship, and Hindu yogis. The way the Americans and Europeans react to the gospel nowadays is really no different. That Chinese man turned to me and said, “These men loved Jesus from their ancestors but now they can’t even listen about him. I want to read about Jesus. I know He was good.” The man was from somewhere in central China and I praise God for how the Spirit of God displayed the power of Light to uncover darkness that night.

Preaching at a Pagan Newari Religious Festival in Kathmandu
Preaching at a Pagan Newari Religious Festival in Kathmandu

One evening we went to a local market to preach. The Newari people are the traditional ethnic group from the Kathmandu Valley. They have a particular festival they celebrate each year in which they erect these enormous towers upon chariots that they pull through the streets in worship to the gods. The wheels are covered with goat’s blood and the procession lasts for many days. The night we went to the market to preach, two of the chariots were standing nearby with an innumerable multitude coming by to light a candle and pay their superstitious respects to the gods. So many gospel tracts went out that day and their were a few groups of Nepali believers that came by praising the Lord for the preaching of the gospel. Now, the Bible says that the preaching of the gospel IS the power of God unto salvation to all that believe. It also says that the preaching of the gospel IS foolishness to them that are perishing. I know, I know, I am being judgmental. Well, oh well. I know what my Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Even those Europeans that claimed to be Christians as they mocked at us preaching cannot escape this simple judgment of God. The reaction of these Nepali Christians will stand in judgment over against the American and European “Christians” that mocked the preaching. Your reaction to the preaching of the Gospel really does speak a lot about whether you are headed for hell or destined for heaven. I thank the Lord for sending some Christians our way during the preaching. The world’s reaction to the Gospel is quite vexing to the spirit of the preacher. Remember to strengthen your pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and any believer you meet. The days continue to grow darker, dear saints.

Apart from walking the streets talking to numerous Israeli tourists, I arranged a trek for us to do high up in the Himalayas. We have met lots of Jewish people in town and even had dinner with some of them to share more about Jesus. But, I find it invaluable to be out in the wilderness and share the Gospel. Most Israelis that come through Nepal arrange to do at least one or two treks while they are here. The way I see it: when people are away from all of the distractions of the city and in the midst of God’s beautiful creation, the very deep things of life can be much easier to deal with!

IMG_5438.jpg

I had heard much about Israelis going to the Annapurna mountain range for a trek while in Nepal. So, we set out on a five-day slog into the Annapurna Sanctuary with Brother Bishnu at our side. I was glad he could join us for the trip. As we walked, we gave out a few hundred English tracts specifically written for the trekker. We gave out even more Nepali gospel tracts about the power of Jesus over darkness that flies in the face the of the mythological duality found in the Hindu holiday of Dashain that was being celebrated at the time. But, the entire hike to Annapurna Base Camp yielded zero encounters with Jewish people. I’ll share the Gospel with anyone, but why did we just lug all of these Hebrew tracts and New Testaments up the trail? As it turns out there is another route in the Annapurnas that has become the main thoroughfare for Israelis. Well, as we started the hike down, I was out in front. I ended up slipping on some loose dirt and busting my shin open. I bounced back up and tried to overcome the pain by walking it out when I noticed a young couple coming up the trail towards me. As they came closer, I knew exactly what this whole hike had been about! The couple was from Israel and gladly stopped to talk to me on the trail. Maybe they saw me slip and just stopped to talk to me out of sympathy! I don’t know and I don’t care. They seemed open to the Gospel and listened to how the Spirit of God had changed my life. Then, as we parted we found out that they were only going to the top for an hour and that they would be staying in the same village we planned to reach that night. For the next nine hours, we hiked down to our destination and I prayed continually that God would do something miraculous with them. Sure enough, right as I was coming up the last few hundred steps of stairs to the village where we would sleep, I turned to my left and saw the young man come up next to me. We arranged to have breakfast the next morning at 6:30 AM and bade each other goodnight. Praise God. All was not in vain. I do want to widely publish the Gospel to as many Jewish people as possible, but when you have hiked for such a long time not seeing a single Jewish person and one comes across your path then it makes every hardship disappear. The next morning Bishnu, Christian, and I sat for more than two hours talking about the Talmud and Midrash and exposing how strongly they contradict the teaching of the Tanakh (Old Testament). The young man was from a religiously observant family, and the girl was pretty secular; but she hung on every word we spoke. Many times while the young man tried to defend rabbinic Judaism, he would suddenly pause and scramble to try to defend what cannot be defended by the Tanakh or even the New Testament that clearly agrees in every point with the Tanakh. It was pretty interesting to watch the young lady as well. A few times she looked at her boyfriend and said, “What? Do we really believe that?” Most Jewish people, secular or religious, simply believe whatever the rabbi says. This woman was secular but still naturally responded with, “…what we believe?”

I do believe that revealing how consistent God is in the Tanakh and New Testament was a major thing for the two Israelis. Rabbinic Judaism does the same thing that Islam and Catholicism do. They make God a liar. Catholicism claims that the Cardinals and Pope (The Holy See) have replaced the Levities and God’s voice in the earth. Rabbinic Judaism says that the rabbis are now in control instead of the Levites and that what they say has greater authority than God Himself. What blasphemy! When we finished talking about the Messiah and parted ways, Christian pulled out our Hebrew New Testament and presented it to the young man. I was standing outside saying goodbye to the young lady when I heard the exchange. The young man said, “This is for me?! Thank you so much. I want to read it.” I would mark our entire trek as a failure for Jewish evangelism if it had not been for this couple right at the very end. But, as much as I would love to reach the masses I know that the quality of God’s Spirit reaching just one or two souls means so much more. It is in a man’s mind to plan for things, even in ministry. Yet, you must always submit to the Lord when He ordains your steps. May it be His will and not our own!

Ricky stands below the south face of Annapurna I, one of the highest mountains in the world.
Ricky stands below the south face of Annapurna I, one of the highest mountains in the world.

The whole trek was quite beautiful, I should add. When you get up into the Himalaya, you can’t help but praise the Lord. Man’s heart just staggers under the beauty of it all. At sunrise one morning, I was out watching the light hit the mountains when a man remarked to his wife, “I can see why Pagans once worshipped the sun. It’s just so beautiful.” Well, I guess man always finds a way to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, doesn’t he (Romans 1:18)? While we did give out many English gospel tracts to foreigners, most of them expressed the same hatred for the Bible we have encountered back in Kathmandu and on the American college campus. Christian sat down for tea in one village and opened his Bible to have an open discussion with everyone in the eating area. After just a few minutes of complete nonsense, I was so repulsed that I withdrew myself from the communal discussion and let Bishnu and Christian do the talking. I had noticed a young Russian girl that was silently applauding our rebuttals against the nonsense statements concerning absolute truth. I sat next to her and started to speak with her about quite a few different things. She lives in Finland now and has a big chip on her shoulder about the Eastern Orthodox Church in Russia. It was clear that the only Gospel she knew was something dreadfully false and drowned to death from the traditions of men. As she brought up many points concerning life and God, I was able to show her God’s answer instead of some Church apologist’s opinion to back up the Church’s control of the people. She was really seeing the Lord I believe. Something I love about reading the Bible is how God’s soul really shines from it. When you write me a letter, I can see your personality coming off of the page. It has your stamp on it just as any writer puts their mark on their respective works. You can even see the difference between Jesse and I when either one of us write an update. And, for the Lord, you can see a just God who loves mercy more than judgment, gives life to the dead, and even brings His loving Spirit to mankind to redeem them from being His enemy. All you have to do is humble your heart and read the Bible to know what I mean. He really is beautiful and kind if you would seek the Lord. This young Russian girl noticed the difference before we were done talking. And, she took a small book that expounds on the Gospel from my hand. We had some really great discussions with the lost while on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. By the end of it, we were completely exhausted but could praise God for a week well spent.

Ricky, Christian, and Bishnu make it to Annapurna Base Camp.
Ricky, Christian, and Bishnu make it to Annapurna Base Camp.
Open-air Preaching in Pokhara
Open-air Preaching in Pokhara

During the time before and immediately after the trek, we hung out in Pokhara, a tourist town that all Israelis visit when they come to Nepal. We spoke to quite a few Israelis and foreigners on the streets there. Before we left, in fact, a group of people we had witnessed to saw us again on the street and said aloud, “Oh, it’s the Christians!” Then, they turned their back to us. You know, I am very honored to be reviled, not because we did anything wrong or because we did some tremendously spiritual act but because we were identified with Jesus Christ. I’m so grateful to be known as “the Christians,” for there is no sweeter name than that of the Christ: Jesus of Nazareth. Pray to God that those who heard us talking about Jesus would humble themselves. Europe and America have decidedly turned away from God, but salvation is a matter of individual decision. I do believe that God can save even the most hardened heart. I mean, he saved me nearly ten years ago. That is evidence enough to me that God still cares about the most wretched kind of people.

As you pray for Full Proof Gospel Ministries in Nepal, I would ask that you pray for direction from the Lord. Nepal is facing a crisis right now because India has unofficially blockaded Nepal’s borders and is not allowing many commodities into the country (e.g. fuel, cooking gas, grocery imports, etc). Supplies are disappearing from store shelves, and many restaurants have already closed down. We are doing okay in the country for the moment, but life grows increasingly difficult with each passing day. Right now, we are praying about ministry plans for the next couple of months. It may even involve having to leave Nepal for a short time until the shortages come to an end. We would be doing earthquake relief as well right now, but the fuel shortages have prevented us from being able to get out to the effected areas with any supplies. Pastor James from Bangladesh has invited me to come back to Bangladesh for a while to teach the believers there about Israel. Part of ministering to Jewish people is to teach the Church about the Jewish people. I do hope to see the believers in Bangladesh very soon. However, we need to hear the Lord on the matter before going anywhere. There are still opportunities here in Nepal for the Gospel.

I’ll close with this encouraging encounter I had with a young man that I will call El. We met El in the tourist area of Kathmandu just before we went to the Annapurnas for our trek. He came to dinner with us and spoke with Christian for more than an hour about the New Testament and the Gospel of Christianity. After about two weeks, we returned to that same tourist area here in Kathmandu and did some open-air preaching. Out of nowhere, El showed up with shock on his face. He couldn’t believe that we would preach about the Bible in the streets. I told him, “You know the Nevi’im (Prophets)? We just wanted to be like the Nevi’im from the Bible!” He was amazed and dumbfounded. He was very adamant that we go to dinner with him once more. He had a flight the next morning to fly out of Nepal, so this would be our last chance to talk to him. God is good at arranging travel plans for people to hear the Gospel! After dinner and a few questions that El had about Christianity, I pulled out a Hebrew New Testament and gave it to him. The moment he saw the book he shrieked with a laugh and said, “My mom would be so angry!” We talked a little bit about his family history and I found out that his parents are still very religious and strongly adhere to the orthodox rabbis. If El responds rightly to the command of God to, “Repent, and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ” he will most certainly be met with strong resistance and persecution from his family (Acts 2:38). He did thank me for the New Testament and said, “My parents would be so angry but I have wanted to read this book for a long time.” These are just a few of the stories that are now a part of my life because of the work these past couple of months. There are many other Jewish people that you can pray for right now that have heard the Gospel over here. God knows who they are and how to bring to their minds the things they were taught.

“When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:22).

i heard the bells

i heard the bells

the blessed hope

the blessed hope