You might remember that we were expelled from the country in 1976. However, the Lord has continued to use His Word among the Danuwar Rai people. In 1986 I revisited them for a few days on the way to Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Now, 24 years later, I was back in the country. As I landed in Kathmandu I sensed a lot of excitement, asking myself, “How are my friends doing? What will I find in our village, Hatidhunga? Is the church among them still alive? Will they recognize me?” etc.
I knew that several were planning to meet me, like Paul (formerly Bal Krishna Rai) and Pastor Thomas, and others. As I walked out of the airport building I noticed a huge crowd. Suddenly I heard the scream of a woman – it was Paul’s wife Purni. She had recognized me, came running and took me in her arms to welcome me. Then the men came: Paul, Thomas, and another friend Dharma and his wife. Their faces were beaming, and I noticed some tears in their eyes. They were overwhelmed with joy seeing me suddenly in their midst. We laughed and laughed as I tried to speak some sentences in their language. These moments of welcome were very special to us.
Now my visit to Nepal is over with all kinds of events, and I have chosen some of the highlights to pass on to you.
My Danuwar friends had booked a vehicle for several days to take me to the tribal territory in the south. As I looked at the car I was shocked. I noticed that the tyres were in a very bad condition. One tyre especially had no tread whatsoever. It was completely bald. I complained and requested that at least this one should be replaced. They could not understand why I was insisting on a change. “We always drive like this” was their excuse. Then I took some time to explain to them the danger of driving with bald tyres. They commented, “We have never heard about this. No one has ever told us this.” I could hardly believe it. So, finally, they changed the bald tyre with one which still had at least some tread on. Then we found that the back door could not be locked. So I complained again, requesting a new lock to be put on. Finally – nearly 3 hours later – we were on the way. We drove over the southern mountain range, about 130km. The trip was quite exciting, enjoying the beauty all around us. We climbed up to 6,000ft (2,000km), then down again, then up again, etc.
First stop at Mangal Rai’s church
On the other side of the mountains we first visited a small village surrounded by many fields where Mangal Rai had planted a church. Mangal is the son of the Danuwar Hindu priest who years ago had first started the persecution of the Christians. Mangal remembered me from when he was a small boy. Pastor Thomas Rai got him some work in Kathmandu. But one day the Lord spoke and commissioned him to preach the Gospel to his own people. So he quit his job and returned to his tribal territory. The Lord has really anointed his ministry and has given him a gift of healing. Quite a number of people were touched by the Lord and joined the church. I have met some of them. At present he probably has the biggest congregation among the Danuwar Rai, with about 200 members.
It really touched my heart to observe life among them. What a joy and blessing to see the fruit of our work after so many years. Mangal has a very simple house. The church meets twice on Sundays in his living room, sitting on the floor. He desperately needs a bigger place.
On the next morning they took me to a building site where they have just started to construct a new meeting place for about 300 people. They are trusting the Lord for all the supplies they need. I was able to leave them some money to buy some new materials for the building. They asked me to pray over the site as well as over the pastor and his team, which I did. Back at the house we had some singing and prayer. I shared about the Lord’s work among the Fayu.
Among us there was a very encouraging uplifting atmosphere. Then suddenly Pastor Mangal stopped the meeting, put me in their midst and started to talk to me. Here are some excerpts from his speech:
“About 35 years ago I saw you once and now I see you again. Then I was a small boy and now I am pastor working in the Kingdom of God. We want to honour you today. We are so thankful that you came years ago to bring us the Gospel. Now see, we are the fruit, and you are the source of all that fruit (immediately I corrected him: No, not me, it is JESUS, and don’t forget Doris, for she was part of the team.) You are our ‘badze’ (grandfather) and our ‘jujubadze’ (great-grandfather). We are your children and grandchildren. As a sign of respect – as it is our custom to honour important people – we give you now this special scarf called ‘dosala’ and desire to bless you.”
Then he placed that beautiful yellow scarf around my neck, and he and the other pastors came and blessed me in the Name of the Lord. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to say. It really touched my heart. These were very, very special moments. Thank you, Jesus!
From there we went to visit other Danuwar Rai churches. I was honestly surprised when I learned that, so far, they had established 60 new churches all over the territory. In some areas the Gospel had even spread over to other tribal groups and languages. Praise God! I stand in awe!
How did this come about? I was told that it happened again and again that Christians were persecuted and thrown out of their home villages. However, they did not run and hide in fear, but the Lord was with them. He strengthened them and used them to plant new churches.
Everywhere I went it produced great joy among the people. My sudden appearance released tremendous courage, thankfulness and praise. They welcomed me as their spiritual father, and the churches were strengthened by my visit. Wherever I went I prayed for the pastors and for the leadership: “Lord, let the river of life continue to flow through their territory”, and I blessed them with light and life that more and more people would be rescued out of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Light.
Visiting our village, Hatidhunga
That was quite an adventure. There are two ways to reach that area. The first one is to cross the Baghmati River eight times hiking north. Remembering some of the experiences of crossing years ago, I was not necessarily looking forward to it. So I asked my friends about the second option: it was a so-called ‘new road’ from the main highway to our Danuwar Rai tribal territory. I will tell you now that I should have taken the river way because driving the road was really a ‘horror trip’. It was not a road, nor even a country lane, but maybe a ‘tank trail’. Though it was only 67km long, it took us nearly 5 hours. We had to fight our way through huge dry river beds with large ‘seas of stones’. Again and again we were stuck in gravel. Everyone had to get out to push or to pull – or we were stuck going up the embankment or going down. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that I had insisted in changing the bald tyre.
In spite of all this, our travel companions and the driver were in excellent spirits all the time. We had so much fun together. We laughed and laughed. Simon Rai, a Danuwar pastor, was sitting in the back seat. Every time we conquered another obstacle or hindrance he exclaimed in a loud voice: “Praise the Lord! Thank you Jesus! Hallelujah!” And we joined him shouting the same thing. Finally we reached our destination, the village Hatidhunga, where we had lived for about 4 years.
What an excitement to be back at the place where everything had started. The village has really changed. I would not have recognized it again. It has really grown. About one dozen people remembered me – all had grey hair! They gave me a very warm, affectionate welcome. I was able to say to them in their tribal language: “Tui budhra, mui budhra!” which means, you are an old man, and I am an old man! We were so happy to see each other. Again and again they asked about my family and I showed them a set of pictures which I had with me.
Two new generations have come up. They had only heard about me by the hearing of their ears but now their eyes have suddenly seen me. The children were so excited saying again and again: Look, there is Kugler from Germany; my grandmother has told me about him many times, and now I see him.
My old friend, Budha Bir, took me on a tour from house to house. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was really special to me. We gathered at the church building. I was very blessed when I suddenly noticed the village headman. During our time in Hatidhunga he was always reserved towards the Gospel. But now as I suddenly saw him again I knew that Jesus was living in his heart. His whole countenance had changed. Glory to God! In fact, they told that they have now 350 people in the village and all of them, from the smallest to the oldest, follow the Lord Jesus. What a miracle! Thank you, Jesus.
I was not able to speak the tribal language fluently. I probably would have needed another week or so. But Pastor Thomas was always at my side to translate where needed. At the church building I blessed the leadership and prayed for another dozen people who desired ministry. Several times I was asked to come back or to stay longer. They would immediately have built a house for me.
Back at the car Thomas asked me to speak to the people. We had an ‘open-air meeting’ where I shared again about the Lord’s work among the Fayu. Also I told them what a blessing and privilege it was to meet them all and to see the fruit of our labour. The farewell was very, very hard on us.
Back in Kathmandu
Before leaving Kathmandu I still had some very blessed encounters with some special people, e.g. Miriam, a former leprosy patient, whom we once took into our house to be part of the family. She was and still is a strong believer. She especially took care of our Christian, or as we called him in Nepal ‘Buburaja’ which means ‘prince’. She was overwhelmed with joy seeing me again. She is faithfully remembering us daily in prayer. We had a lot of things to share with each other.
Then I met again my very close Danuwar Rai friends and their families; the three brothers, Pastor Thomas Rai, Pastor Bal Krishna Rai (Paul), and Hari Bahadur Rai; and I met another special man called Dharma, and his family.
Pastor Thomas, who organized this whole trip for me, invited me one more time to his church to preach. After a time of worship lasting 45 minutes he called me to the front. To my utter surprise, on behalf of the whole Danuwar tribe, he presented me with a Nepali ‘topi’ for the head and a huge scarf as well as a special plaque in order to honour again their spiritual father. The plaque is the most beautiful one I have ever seen. It is a great piece of art (see picture), and a letter of appreciation for Mr. Klaus Kugler (Germany). In the letter with a golden background they testified in their own words how the Gospel came to their villages and how it had changed many, many lives, etc. And three of their pastors signed the letter. I was again overwhelmed and speechless. Then there was special prayer for me.
Later I explained to Thomas that one name was missing on that plaque – the name of Doris. He was immediately convicted about it. The next day he went and bought two beautiful scarves to give to Doris with their special greetings.
Saying goodbye at the airport was very, very difficult. I really had to tear myself way from them. However, they have the hope that I will come back one day.
Again, thank you to everyone who remembered me on this trip. I am tremendously blessed to see what the Lord has done. Furthermore, I am very thankful to the Lord for health and strength during the whole trip.
I really hope that this report has blessed you and has encouraged you in the Lord.
With a grateful heart and much love in Christ,
Klaus-Peter and family.
PS: If you want to read Pastor Thomas’s testimony and how the Gospel came to their villages, click on the website: www.gracechurchnepal.com