2015 Nepal – River Trang Ha

Freedom to Love Without Limits

We love because God first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

Some time ago, I read an article about the purpose of love by John Piper. To love others is to enable them to worship God freely. If love ends with oneself or in another person, it’s a dead end. It is only when love ends in God, and lets praise flow back to Him, that love has accomplished its purpose. Throughout my missions trip to Nepal, God took me deeper in the revelation of His love. I was able to witness His fierce love releasing His children to taste the freedom of loving Him and others without limits.

Nepal is a country heavily influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, and Christians account for only 1% of the population. (If this number doesn’t strike you, then imagine 1 man standing amongst 99 others of different beliefs). Whether it was walking through the streets of the capital city of Kathmandu, or travelling to other villages in the mountains, I was struck with the prevalence of altars and idols in the streets and cars. I was surprised by the large vehicles painted to resemble living creatures, and the sound of incessant chanting near the many temples. However, in the midst of these dark places, God’s light shines even more brightly. Our Nepalese Christian brothers and sisters are so hungry for God. Our team visited different churches and held revival services, and saw people crying out in prayer, asking God to pour out His Spirit. And God, ever faithful, answered His children by sending down the fire of His presence and setting them free from the bondages of demonic oppression, fear, insecurity, unforgiveness, bitterness, and apathy. At the end of the services, many people came up hugging us, jumping with joy, sharing how free and empowered they felt. Looking into the eyes of the people and seeing how much joy and freedom radiated through them, we couldn’t help but thank God for His fierce love pouring out upon His people.

Of course, we must remember that this freedom that is accessible to each and every one of us is quite costly. I still find it impossible to fathom the depth of God’s love. That in that moment more than two thousand years ago, when Christ breathed His last breath on the cross, He saw you and I and chose to die for us. He did this so we could live free from the bondage of chains. And our freedom does not end there. This freedom enables us to love and worship Him without limits. When the Nepali people we encountered were set free, the way they worshipped God was different—they were so joyful and free, as if a heavy curtain was lifted off their hearts. Many of them renewed their commitment to serve God, either in their spheres of influence or even in the realm of full-time ministry.

Prior to this trip, I was struggling with my view of power and love, and how these two things could go together. Isn’t it easy to lose sight of my love for God if I want to experience His power? God answered this question by revealing His mighty power as a manifestation of His love. Love and power are not in conflict, but rather go hand in hand. As the Scripture says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” In my limited understanding of God, I had put Him in a box. Living in my comfort zone, I had always known about but was not fully aware of the places where people were massively oppressed. Idols are not only prevalent on altars in Nepal, but idols are everywhere, even in the hearts and minds of people. In this way, Nepal is like many other nations. And the only way for God’s people to be set free is to encounter the fierce love and mighty hands of the living God. However, I knew that powerful manifestations of the power of God were not the only things that our team was seeking. More than anything, we were seeking God’s heart for His people. At the end of the day, no matter how many healings and miracles we see, if our true delight is not in Christ Himself, we are not going to be satisfied.

One couple that we met during the trip, Pastor Phurpu and his wife Auntie Maya, really caused us to be in awe of their humility and the way they love and serve God and others. They were working along the borders between Nepal and Tibet, where house churches are several mountains away from each other. In order to disciple believers in this area, Pastor Phurpu and other Nepali pastors didn’t spare their effort to go from one mountain to another to meet up with other believers. Auntie Maya went from house to house to teach the women in remote areas how to bathe themselves and their babies, and how to make crafts to earn a living. Some pastors were imprisoned while sharing the Gospel in China, and as soon as they were released, they went back to serving the Lord. Loving God enables these ministers to love others in radical ways that we couldn’t have imagined.

On my last day in Nepal, I was given a pen with the inscription “Let your goal be God Himself.” And it occurred to me that this is the answer to my prayers—past, present, and future. Let us love God more than our own comforts. Let us love Him more than our desires, dreams, and visions. Let us love Him for who He is, not what we want from Him.

On my way back to Vietnam, I passed by Kuala Lumpur in a transit flight. Outside the window was the breathtaking view of the starry night sky, and the boundary between the sky and the ocean was blurry as if they were one big hug from my Heavenly Father. I was embraced by the God of the universe at that very moment, and can’t help but praise Him from the bottom of my heart. To Him be all the praise, honor, glory, and power forever and ever!

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