I remember the first time Trudy and I went to India in 2002. Man, seems like a long time ago. On that mission, I remember talking to Roscoe Brewer of EPIC International about unreached people groups. He explained that you can classify the unreached in several different ways: by geography, by language, and by occupation. Most of our efforts to reach the lost over these many years have been by geography and by language. I had no plans to change the way we have been doing this until my last mission to Nepal.
Jeff Benefield (a long time friend and TREC Board Member) and I arrived in Pokhara, Nepal, on October 8th after to days of traveling. We had two days to acclimate to Nepali time (almost 12 hours ahead of our time zone) and make final preparations for our upcoming survey TREC in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas. We would be accompanied by four of our Nepali brothers from Restoration church, Bijay, Bishal, Prax, and Milan. The purpose of this 14 day TREC was to target the unreached village that God would have us work in. Our TREC lasted 14 days, and we hiked over 93 miles with ascents of over 27,000 feet and descents of over 25,000 feet. We had the opportunity to share the gospel with many people as we walked these beautiful and steep mountain trails. Some of the people we encountered were porters. For those who don’t know, porters are the people who carry supplies and gear up and down the mountain for the trekkers.
We were on day seven of our TREC and still had no direction from the Holy Spirit on what village to work in. We were at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, and Jeff B and Prax had stopped to share the gospel with a porter named Kumar. It was a welcomed break because it gave me a chance to catch my breath and rest. As Jeff was sharing the gospel, I started praying that God would move in this man’s life. As I was praying I looked down and noticed that Kumar was wearing flip flops while carrying this load of supplies that weighed more than he did. My heart broke and I started praying and asking God for wisdom on how to reach these porters. As we continued up the mountain all I noticed were porters, the loads on their backs, and what they had on their feet. Most of them were walking these rugged trails in shower shoes. My focus shifted from trying to find a village to reaching these men who had the occupation of being a porter.
I kept all this to myself for several days as I prayed about this, and then the Lord gave me some direction: “Boots & Bibles!” Let’s put boots on their feet, share the gospel, and give them the Word of God. I remember being at about 12,000 feet and I stopped Bishal for two reasons; the first was to catch my breath again and the second was to ask Bishal his thoughts about Boots & Bibles. His face lit up when I talked to him about this, and just like that, a new ministry was birthed. There are over 250 porters and their families in the Pokhara area and we need your help to reach them. For $120 you can give a porter a pair of leather, waterproof hiking boots, a pair of wool socks, a Bible, and our “Boots & Bibles” team will share the gospel with them and start reaching them and their families one by one. We currently want to purchase 100 pairs of boots, so we need a total of $12,000 to make this happen. Will you pray about how God wants you to be involved with this project? I can’t wait to see the lives that are going to change.