“But you, O God…are the helper of the fatherless.”
Pastor Nima Tshering and some
of the first children of Champa Choeling.
Yesterday you received the first installment on my report about Pastor Nima Tshering and the children of Champa Choeling, or “Place of Love.” There was so much to report about this unique home for needy Tibetan children, that I had to send it in two segments.
As I shared in that first report, the Tibetan people are the most resistant and least responsive people on earth to the Gospel. That’s why, according to the best estimates of missiologists, there are less than several hundred known Tibetan Christians in the entire world!
But that is not because foreign missionaries have not faithfully tried to reach Tibetans. It is because they have their own “living god” in the person of the Dalai Lama. To them, he is their Christ-substitute. To us, he is antichrist. So because of their faith in the Dalai Lama as their “god incarnate,” most Tibetans have virtually been impervious to Christian evangelism. That is especially the case with the adult Tibetans who have lived their whole lives in that spiritual darkness.
It was for that reason that Pala Tshering, and his wife, Amala, shifted their emphasis from adults to children. Even though Pala had been a Buddhist monk himself for 28 years, his influence on fellow monks was minimum. So God directed his heart to the needy Tibetan children.
As a result of Pala and Amala adopting and rearing the children in a loving Christian atmosphere, most of them accepted Christ as their Savior while they were young or in their teens. They were then nurtured and mentored in their faith through daily devotions and weekly church services led by Pala. And it was not in any way “foreign” in language or culture. Everything was totally Tibetan in language, music, instruments and dress. It remains so to this day.
REACHING TIBETANS THROUGH CHILDREN
A number of the known Tibetan Christians in the world are graduates of Champa Choeling. This approach of ministering to children once again proved the truth of the verse above that says: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
By God’s sovereign grace, I first met Pala and Amala in Kathmandu nearly 3 decades ago. At that time, they were living in very crowded conditions in a small rented second floor apartment. There was little place for the children to live – much less study and play.
We quickly saw the need for a house of their own with more yard space. We were soon able to purchase a home through the generous gifts of our partners. A second house beside it was later purchased in order to expand their ministry.
The dedication of the first house.
The dedication of the second house, with more room for the Tsherings
and for their ever-growing number of adopted children.
A TIBETAN CHURCH
The new house also served as the weekly meeting place for their indigenous Tibetan Church – which was one of its kind in the world. It is where the children were discipled and mentored in the Christian faith as they sat under the wise teaching and preaching of Pala every week, supplemented by his son, Yacob, also an ordained minister.
The Champa Choeling Choir often sang and danced at special cultural events.
It has been my joy to preach many times across the years
at the Champa Choeling Church - with Yacob as my translator.
Pala with some of his young congregation.
This unique church was the place where their "Champa Choeling Choir" sang songs that Pala wrote in the Tibetan language, accompanied by traditional instruments. Since our own ministry had begun through the formation of a youth musical group in 1968 known as "The New Directions", we were especially drawn to this unique indigenous musical ministry.
Across the years we helped them produce several cassettes of their music. Additionally, we assisted in the printing of Pala’s “Good Shepherd” tract based on John 10, his life story titled “A Tibetan Monk’s Story, and in the production of Solar Digital Players with Pala reading Scriptures in his native language.
We rejoice that we were able to help Champa Choeling record ethnic Christian
music written by Pala for distribution through audio cassettes and through
the Solar Digital Bible. Their music continues to be very popular among
Tibetan Refugees throughout Nepal and India.
THE BIBLE IN THE HEART LANGUAGE OF THE TIBETAN PEOPLE
During this same time while they were taking in needy children, Pala was also translating the Scriptures into the heart language of the Tibetan people. He spent 15 years doing this translation.
Sadly, that translation by the Bible Society has still not been printed for distribution. So, fearing that Pala would never live to see his life’s work completed in printed form, we helped him do an oral translation for distribution through Solar Digital Players. These players have become great witnessing tools to Tibetans who are oral learners in Nepal, India and America.
Yacob recorded Pala as he read his Bible translation for the Solar Players.
Pala and Amala listening to Bible portions from
the Old and New Testaments, recorded by Pala
for the Solar Players.
Hundreds of these Solar Players have now been distributed
among Tibetan Refugees in Nepal, India and America,
made possible by the giving of our American partners.
Yacob sowing God's written and oral word among Tibetan Refugees in Nepal.
CHAMPA CHOELING FAMILY ALBUM…
A dual cab pickup truck, purchased for Champa Choeling
by a ministry partner.
The Nima Tshering Family
CHAMPA CHOELING KIDS THEN AND NOW...
(Left) Dolma Chunkie, now studying for her Bachelors in Social Work, plans
to work with an NGO; (Right) Pemba Tshering now lives and works in Switzerland.
Patt and I are pictured with a young Jingmy Tsewang, whom we have personally
supported throughout his years at Champa Choeling. Jingmy, pictured at right,
has graduated, works in an office in Kathmandu, and will soon be sent by his
company to work in the Gulf States.
From Left to right: Sharon Lhomi now works as a teacher; Nima Tshering farms
with his family in Gorkha; and Mingmar works in Malaysia as a cook.
Dawa Tenzing works as a clinic receptionist; Kipa Lama is studying and teaching
in Kathmandu; and Tsultrim Lhamo is married and lives in Pokhara, Nepal.
Magdalene Lama and Tsechu Dolma are teachers, while Sonam Tshering works
as a hotel manager in Kathmandu.
Tshering Lhadon owns a tourist business in Pokhara; Henna Lama is a teacher;
and Yanchen Dolkar is a happily married homemaker.
Angmo is a teacher; Lhakpa works at a sweater business in Shillong;
and Tsetan Dolma is married and living in Nepal.
Dawa Lamo, playing the Tibetan instrument "Damia",
is married and operates a small hotel with her husband
in Gorkha Village. At right, Sonam Yenkie works as a
nurse and now lives in England with her husband.
Dolma Chunkie as a child, and today at Champa Choeling,
hopes to work with an NGO in the future.
Lobsang Choden as a young girl at Champa Choeling,
now works as a nurse in Mangalore.
Sonam Tshering, as a small boy at left,
works as a hotel manager in Boudha.
A young Tshering Dolma, pictured left,
is now happily married and lives in Canada.
Tshering Sangmo, pictured left as a child at Champa Choeling,
now works as a teacher in Gurkha.
(Left) Mingmar works as a cook in Malaysia;
(Right) Phurba Tashi, pictured with Yacob, has his own
office in Boudha for students preparing to study abroad.
Tenth Grade Students.
Linda Tshering is a renown teacher, and has
motivated and mentored many of the girls
of Champa Choeling to become teachers.
Several of the many Champa Choeling graduates who are teachers today.
POSTSCRIPT ON PALA…
Pala at his 100th birthday celebration.
As our regular readers know, Pala recently celebrated his historic “100th Birthday,” which we featured in a special report (please click here to review). He lived a little over 6 months after that century mark before God called him home.
RESURRECTION OR REINCARNATION?
Since Patt and I were not able to attend Pala’s funeral, a visit to his grave was a high priority on our last trip to Nepal. After a long, 3-hour hard ride from Kathmandu over mountainous roads – and non roads, we finally arrived at the burial site. Frankly, we needed donkeys or yaks to reach the site!
The reason this remote site was chosen is because Nepal is a majority Hindu and Buddhist country. They cremate their dead and spread the ashes on the holy river. So due to the Hindu and Buddhist significance of this as an essential part of the reincarnation process, Christians in Nepal do not cremate – but bury.
Christians believe in resurrection – not reincarnation. However, the Hindus and Buddhists think this practice of burying a dead body is a defilement and contamination of their land. So no one will allow you to bury on their land! This has been one of the great problems for decades in Nepal as the Church has grown exponentially. The Christians have to search for remote places to secretly bury their dead.
There was no available place in the whole Kathmandu Valley where Pala could be buried. So Pastor Hanok led the search and finally found this remote property over 3 hours drive from Kathmandu. It was in a small green valley between two steep hillsides. It was amazing to us as we walked there, after going as far as the truck would take us, that they were able to carry Pala's wooden coffin to this remote site! Since Pala had always loved the 23rd Psalm, God gave him his wish to be buried in a “green valley!”
It was with both joy and sadness that we trekked to where Pala had been buried several months earlier. And since every visit to Champa Choeling was highlighted with the traditional Tibetan “Shawl of Honor” from Pala, it was a privilege to place them on his grave along with flowers, and to have a time of prayer and praise for a unique life well lived for the Lord Jesus!
One thing for sure, Pala has never been more alive! Not because of some illusory reincarnation into another life form – but through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus! At death, Pala did not “change forms” – he was transformed!
I have included some of the pictures I took with my dear friend and partner, Pala, across the decades, that capture the essence of his spiritual life in Christ. Also are pictures of his ever-faithful wife, Amala, who was always at his side…
A FARWELL PARTY WITH THE CHILDREN…
As is our custom, we have a party with the children in our various homes when we visit them. Sometimes it is pizza…sometimes it is KFC…sometimes it is burgers…sometimes it is goat – whatever is available! This time it was hot and spicy KFC, Tibetan moo-moos, Black Forest cake and ice cream – a very special treat for the kids.
Doing this has given me the reputation of the “Party Uncle!” But since God is all about an eternal party in heaven, I love to reflect that on earth with His children everywhere I can. That’s why I don’t want to ever grow up! Most grown-ups don’t have near as much fun as I do! Serving Him through serving people is a “Kingdom Adventure!”
Before leaving Kathmandu, we had a BIG party for the kids at Champa Choeling – knowing that Pala was enjoying a much greater party in heaven! So come enjoy the party – with a distinctly Tibetan-flavor!
The kids made traditional moo-moos, a unique Tibetan food - to Tibetans what
potato chips or hot dogs would be to Americans. The closest comparison is
a dumpling filled with yak meat!
The kids chose KFC, as two new stores have recently opened in Kathmandu.
We ordered chicken for everyone - and you don't know "hot and spicy" until
you experience KFC Nepali style!
Black Forest Cake and ice cream are a part of mission trips
I don't tell everyone about!
Before leaving, we presented each of the children with a new shirt and a copy
of my new book, "Life Steps," for young Christians.
Jingmy Lundup & Acha Pema Dechenla
These are our Tibetan Names given us by Pala. Just like God will give each of us an appropriate “new name” in heaven (Rev. 2:17; 3:12), Pala gave Patt and me Tibetan Names that he felt were symbolic of our lives. My name, Jingmy means “fear not.” Lundup means “successful accomplisher.” Patt’s name means: Acha, for “sister,” Pema means “beautiful flower,” and Dechen means “one who brings peace.” What an honor and responsibility to try and live out the implications of those names – especially before the Tibetan people.
Thanks for joining Patt and me on this visit to Champa Choeling. For us it has been a wonderful “walk down memory lane” as we have put these pictures together. They remind us afresh of God’s love for relationships and networking His family together across racial, ethnic and cultural barriers. We hope you have been edified and encouraged by your vicarious fellowship with our dear Tibetan partners through this report. We continue to be awed and amazed over how God sovereignly networked us with Pala, Amala, Yacob, Linda and the children.
From the very beginning, the Tsherings were so gracious to adopt us into their Tibetan family and mentor us in some of the realities of Tibetan life. Our lives have been enriched beyond measure by our decades of friendship and partnership with them.
Most of all, they have given us a greater heart of understanding and compassion for reaching Tibetans – through Tibetans. Thanks for your partnership in this unique and historic partnership to the most resistant and lest responsive people group in the world. We still have much to do to continue to build on Pala’s foundation. We welcome your prayers and financial support to that end.
One final loving challenge: Please include these precious Tibetan children, as well as the scores of children in our other children's homes, in your Christmas shopping. Every year we give a gift to each child, along with a special “Christmas Feast.” So please join Patt and me in giving what you can for these special children. While we hope that Santa Claus will NOT visit them – we hope Jesus will through your love and compassion!
In His love for Tibetans,
JL & Patt
PS: We still have some copies of A Tibetan Monk’s Story about Pala’s life and ministry, filled with colorful pictures from Nepal and Tibet, and would love to send you a copy to enjoy. If you already have one, it would be a timely “stocking stuffer” for Christmas – especially for your pastor, Sunday School teacher, mission coordinator or youth director. Please click on the book cover picture at left to be redirected to our online store.