My journey began in 1983, in Bhutan, a little Himalayan country between China and India. First, you should know the Bhutanese government only accepts two religions: Buddhism and Hinduism.
My uncle was a Christian pastor, and he led my family to Christ. The nearest Christian church was located on the Bhutan-Indian border. Every Sunday, we walked about 10 miles to church so we could worship, and then we walked back home.
Our neighbors reported us. The police came to our house, took my father and uncle to jail, and severely beat them both. They suffered a great deal for the gospel. In some ways, the refugee camps were easier; most of the refugees were Hindu, and we had more opportunities to share Christ. There was still persecution, but less than in Bhutan.
In 1988 and 1989, some of Ngalop and Nepalese people were fighting for democracy, and the government began to kick out those who were involved. The Bhutanese military chased people from village to village. Some of our people tried to settle along the Mai Khola river. Every day, between 20 and 50 people died because of disease and starvation.
Then the military came to my father and told my family to leave the country. We fled in the middle of the night. We left everything behind and walked on foot through the jungle to the Bhutan-Indian border and, beyond that, to Nepal. It was a terrible time and very dangerous. I was 14 when we left Bhutan, and I lived in the refugee camps from 1992 to 2009—17 years.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) program has a long processing time. My immigration to the U.S. took more than two years. I arrived in September 2009, and the refugee office helped me a little with food and rent. By that December, I had found work in a candy factory. Because I had a job, however, the refugee agency cut off support.
Luckily, my younger brother was already here and had a relationship with Andy Millar, senior pastor of New Life Fellowship (Denver Foursquare Church), who was helping our people here in Denver. Andy introduced me to the Foursquare family, including Ted Vail, Foursquare’s director of urban and multicultural ministries, and Sam Rockwell, supervisor of the Gateway District. They all helped me and my family with donations.
Coming to Foursquare was very important for me. In Bhutan, I came to Christ in a Pentecostal group. We spoke in tongues and believed in prophecy, and we worked in the power of the Holy Spirit. But when I came to the U.S., most churches didn’t speak in tongues and didn’t believe in miracles.
Some Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees who are very new Christians join the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses because they are nice to the refugees. Others, especially the young people, stop coming to church at all because of the culture. They want to live a free life, so they go to bars instead of coming to church or become involved in gangs. This is a deep concern for me.
Last June, we held a Bible school for more than 53 students. Andy Millar, Ted Vail and Sam Rockwell also came and spoke to them. Many of the youth gave their lives to the Lord and were changed before they went back home.
We have a plan to do the same camp this summer. The purpose of this training is to show young people the Foursquare doctrines so their faith will be solid and they will know the call of God in their lives.
Please be praying for the Nepalese church, financial support and spiritual growth, especially among our young people.
Habil and his family are still waiting for one of his brothers to be released from the refugee camps in Nepal. This story was written with Rachel Chimits, a freelance writer in Reno, Nev.