About marknicklas

Dr. Mark Nicklas is a husband, father, son and follower of Jesus Christ. He is a pastor at Beaverton Foursquare Church and an adjunct professor at Multnomah University, where he earned his doctorate in Cultural Engagement. Like Jacob wrestled with God at Jabbok, this site is a place for talking about the identity of the church with respect to the cultures we live in. You are invited to share the journey.


As I travel to impoverished places in this world I am frequently reminded that man’s inhumanity to man knows no bounds. This is especially true in Nepal, a country where a legacy caste system relegates some people to less-than-human status. Upper caste people do not seem outraged when their “lessers” are exploited or victimized. Hinduism can be very desensitizing since such unfortunate circumstances can be regarded as just rewards for the sins of a previous life.

KidneyOn my Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Bagdogra I flipped through the inflight magazine. The cover story was Unkindest Cut. It told the story of poor villagers in the mountains of Nepal whose kidneys were being taken to meet the demand for transplants in India. According to the World Health Organization an estimated 10,000 black market operations involving trafficked organs now take place annually. It is a matter of supply and demand.

In one village, Hokse, the majority of the adults (380) have been donors. In some cases the villagers were cheated — promised a job that required a medical exam only to wake up and find their kidney had been taken. In other cases they were offered money ($112 USD) with the promise that the kidney would grow back. It is a lucrative deal for the kidney merchants. Transplants in India cost around $28,000 USD. But for the donor, the victim, it is nothing short of exploitation as their bodies are mutilated and their parts are trafficked.

Both Nepal and India have enacted laws outlawing the practice, but the practice continues unabated because the victims are desperate, illiterate and poor. They are unlikely to bring charges even if they know how. The money, as small as it is, provides some momentary relief to their very difficult lives. When life seems hopeless and people begin to believe that their circumstances are the just desserts of something they have done in unknown past lives, small monetary relief offers a glimmer of hope — as fleeting as it is. Laws that are written to protect them are apparently having little effect.

IMG_4049In only a few days I knew I was going to hike into those very hills to visit a small church. I wondered if any of the villagers there had kidneys taken. I thought about the difference I had seen in the lives of Christians in this country. Their circumstances are the same, but they live with a contentment that defies human understanding. They know they are significant in the eyes of God. They know that their sins, which they are aware of in this life, are forgiven. They know God provides. They have hope in Jesus. They are not easily victimized.

While Christian represents only 2% of Nepal’s population, its rapid growth is perceived as a threat that undermines the values of the culture. Christianity spreads unconditional love and forgiveness for sins. It encourages education and opportunity. When those of the lower castes convert, the upper Brahman caste lose complete control over them.

While Nepal became a secular nation in 2005, it has not really culturally transitioned from being a Hindu nation and there is social and political pressure to maintain the status quo. There are laws being considered now that will make it a crime to convert to Christianity (punishable by 5 years in prison). Pray that they will not enact laws that will hinder the very hope they need. Jesus frees the spirit. He restores dignity. He gives hope. The people of Nepal need Jesus.

Pray for Turkey

I recently returned from visiting Pastor Ihsan in Ankara, Turkey. He and teh evangelical church in Turkey (which is primarily made up of converts) are doing an incredible work. They are serving the Iraqi and Syrian refugees fleeing ISIS. These refugees — Kurds, Yazidis, Turkmen, Christians — arrive in Turkey with nothing. The church has responded with care and teh Gospel.  If you are interested in helping their work, you can make a gift to Beaverton Foursquare and indicate that it is for the refugees. We will insure that every dollar goes to the efforts of the church there.

The following is from Pray for Turkey and addresses the ongoing efforts of the church to bring peace and stability to the country.  I met with Pastor Ihsan Ozbek when I was there. He is part of the leadership that is serving the refugees.

Pastor Ihsan’s  Press Conference

12 leaders of the Protestant Churches in Turkey came to Diyarbakir to draw attention to the instances of terrorism and imposed curfews in the Sur district of the city.  Ihsan Özbek, the head pastor of the Kurtuluş Churches, reported that they had come to beg our state to demonstrate its greatness by showing mercy and justice to all its children, and to beg those seeking a solution by “digging trenches” instead to choose to express themselves (their grievances) without weapons.

Pastor Ihsan Özbek came to Diyarbakir as the spiritual leader of the 12 protestant Churches in Turkey (sic).  After first meeting with Governor Hüseyin Aksoy and visiting the Greater Municipality Mayor Gültan Kışanak he held a press conference.  Speaking on behalf of the commission, Kurtuluş Churches Head pastor Ihsan Özbek said they had come to Diyarbakır as the leaders of the Protestant Churches in Turkey.  Özbek said that they were here as followers and representatives of Jesus Christ who repeatedly said “love one another.”

Özbek noted that they came under the weight of Almighty God who cannot remain a spectator as the people whom he created with his love are suffering so terribly and facing death.  Özbek said

“It is obvious to all of us that hate, anger and conflict have not and will not bring peace.  We came to beg all parties to take steps towards peace to escape from this terrible vortex.  Between the tears being shed and the smoke of the battles our eyes can’t see and our minds can’t think.  In this current atmosphere no steps can be taken for peace and goodness, we have come to plead ‘Stop, think again’.  We came to beg our government to demonstrate its greatness by showing mercy and justice to all its children, and on the other hand, to plead with those of our citizens who are seeking solutions by ‘digging trenches’ to choose to express themselves without weapons.”

Özbek, who explained that he had hope that in Turkey we could live in peace and brotherhood, emphasized that those bodies that represent the will of the people, the parliament, the President, the government and local administrations, must work hand in hand.  Özbek continued:

“Without looking at who is right and who is wrong, the moment we can say ‘fighting is not necessary, we will solve these problems with dialogue’ then the dark clouds will immediately lift from our country.  No matter where you are, we plead with all our citizens to hold out your hand today to make tomorrow’s peace a reality today.   We love our country and we pray blessings at all times for everyone, from the greatest to the least, both for our leaders and for all the people.  And we don’t just pray; we will knock on every door until peace comes to our country.”

Özbek explained that they would make appointments to visit the President and the Prime Minister to bring these pleas to them as well.

Pray for Peace to come to Turkey and pray that the Christians will play a role in bringing this Peace to Turkey.


RabiaRabia is a Christian who lives in Ankara, Turkey with her husband and children. She and her team of special needs children’s advocates are serving the least of the least. Her church is proving for the Iraqi and Syrian refugees in a significant way. They feed and clothe about 4,000 of the war refugees arriving from the south and east. in serving these people, Rabia noticed that there are families with children who have special needs. The challenges to those families was even more daunting in this new country. Turkey provides no public assistance to refugees.  They are safe here, but they need to fend for themselves. The church, which is very small in Turkey, has stepped in to advocate.  She and her team, Kardelen Ministries, visit 40 flats in the refugee areas. Each of these two bedroom flats house about 4 families. There are a total of 300 people who are directly impacted by what she does. Her office provides a respite for the families several times per week. The families come and are fed. The special needs child plays in the physical therapy room. The other children have a play area, as well. And the moms are taken aside and pampered. War torn and desperate, they have forgotten to take care of themselves. So for several hours they get their hair cut and get to just enjoy being women together. She has put a face on Christianity that has not been seen before by many of these people. She is extending the advent of Jesus with her own hands.


Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:3)

TraffficMost of the Ankara streets are not marked — at least not with visible corner signs. I began with an expectation that I could simply map out my drive to the center of the capital of Turkey and follow the instructions. I wasn’t using a mobile service, so I wisely looked up the directions prior to leaving the wifi zone and confidently took a photo of the details. According to the instructions, I should have been there in 12 minutes after entering the city. 3 and a 1/2 weary hours later I arrived at my destination.

This was truly a problem of my own making. Having traveled to numerous countries around the world, I know that turning on my phone without a local service card in it is an invitation to telephone robbery. I have seen outrageous phone charges from just a small text exchange. I didn’t think that the purchase of a local service card was necessary, so I did all my planning when wifi was available.

I have learned how to be patient in life, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. This is just the kind of situation that tests me! But I kept my cool because I was committed to doing this my way (which wasn’t working). I would occasionally stop when I found a free wifi service and get a GPS reroute. Getting a little wiser, I would try to pay attention to the actual distances that were listed in the GPS instructions. That failed numerous times as I was routed onto congested traffic with no clear way to get back to my point of failure. These lanes can carry you along with them like a riptide.

But there I was the middle of rush hour traffic unable to find any help. I tried, but most people are not fluent in frenzied-tourist English. I searched desperately for an advocate – someone who would take some pity on the humble and lost American. I imagined giving them the keys and letting them drive me to my destination. Frankly, there was no shortage of thoughtful, gracious people who tried to explain to me what to do, but Turkish doesn’t get any clearer to me when it is spoken loudly with hand gestures. So the situation only progressed from bad to worse. At one point I was in gridlock and thought about abandoning the car altogether and getting a taxi.

My determination blinded me. It finally occurred to me that I would happily pay the outrageous data bill if I could get out of this mess. I had an advocate in the sky outside myself. I need only enable my cellular communications. So I did. And I finally heard the comforting automated voice of my GPS. It told me where and when to turn and what to anticipate in the moments ahead. It turns was not very far from my destination. I could have walked and gotten there in 3 minutes! All I really needed was an advocate who had access to information that I didn’t have.

It is fitting that I am here working with a man who helps Syrian refugees. These aliens in his land are desperate and without any sense of direction as well, only their difficulty is lasting a whole lot longer than my 3 and ½ hours. The stories I have heard are heartbreaking. Man’s inhumanity to man knows no bounds. They come here frightened and tired. They are trying to find some way to get a footing. They need an advocate who has access to things they cannot get and will share with them in their sufferings — someone with a sense of direction.

In the verse above, Jeremiah was warning the king to be an advocate for those who were oppressed. He had it within his means to relieve the suffering. All he needed to do was to act. It is God’s heart that His people would be the ones who would set aside their own needs and desires and serve those who have no one to advocate for them.

Pastor Mark





We often get letters of thanks from missionaries who we support around the world.  Here is a letter from Anne Hughes, who works in Spain in a cafe that shares the Gospel with people who take the long El Camino Santiago trail as a pilgrimage to get in touch with God. Frankly, many people end the trail very discouraged and Anne and her team are there to bring a message of hope.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 106:1
A full cornucopia

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear [Beaverton Foursquare],

I hope this Thanksgiving finds you well, celebrating with family or good friends (who can be like family anyway, right?).

Mark, I want you to know how grateful I am for your support this year. It hasn´t been easy, but your faithfulness, generosity, and willingness to give has meant so much to me. God has been incredibly faithful in His provision, and although I am not quite out of the woods, I am humbled greatly by how people like you have stepped up to help. I truly would not be in Spain without you. Thank you SO MUCH!

Please know that pilgrims are also grateful for the work that is done at Pilgrim House, and you play a vital role in that.

Have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!



Miraculously, the new well has much more volume of water than anticipated. All our students and staff were lit up, and for the first time ever water overflow in abundance to the church, my house and the dormitory. My heart was overflowing with joy and tears in my eyes to see fresh water running in to our house, showers and kitchen. We all had refreshing shower in the afternoon of November 20th, 2015. This is the end of the drought and opening of a new refreshing year 2016 and the years ahead.” (Pastor Titus Luther, National Leader, Solomon Islands Foursquare Church)

It is hard for those of us who live in Oregon to imagine life without water. Yet the clean water we enjoy is a luxury very few people in the world enjoy. According to the United Nations,

  1. 884 million people in the world lack access to safe water supplies.
  2. More than 840,000 people die each year from water-related disease.
  3. In many developing countries, millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources. (as pictured below)
  4. More than 1/2 of all primary schools in developing countries don’t have adequate water facilities and nearly 2/3 lack adequate sanitation.
  5. Clean water is one aspect of improving sustainable food production in order to reduce poverty and hunger.
  6. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.
  7. Every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates $8 as a result of saved time, increased productivity and reduced health care costs.

1The water tower shown here was constructed by our friends in Solomon Islands in order to serve their campus with abundant clean water. Prior to the deep-water well that we drilled (75 feet deep), the property had two shallow wells that were used for cleaning, drinking (after being boiled) and cooking. The deep well provides clean, drinkable water. As Titus himself says, this is a game changer. The water will serve not only the campus school (100 K-6 kids) and institute (training 35 live-in pastors), but will also be given to the surrounding community as living water. That is what abundance does!

2Three years ago I was in the Solomon Islands and saw the work Titus is doing. He has an outreach center that feeds street kids in Honiara, Guadalcanal. When some of the kids show the heart for the Gospel, he invites them to live at the institute. There they prepare for ministry or higher education. In the second year they are sent out as missionaries to the more than 300 occupied islands of the Solomons. After graduation, many will go to these islands to plant churches and remain as the pastors.

4This is the nature of Christian Advocacy. Titus loves the unwanted children of the streets of Honiara.  He has advocated for them for a completely different life.  Then he invites fellow advocates with unique skills and resources to be a part of his plan. We were privileged to partner with Grace Covenant Church in North Carolina in the development of this water system. Titus and his team is changing the world of the Solomon Islands!


“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)




Well we woke up to a 6.8 earthquake whose epicenter was about 30 miles away. Jim and I were already up so we headed out the door and rode it out behind the hotel with an Australian in his underwear. The rest of the guests either stayed inside or slept through it. It was a pretty good shaker. Yesterday was a big production day. we were able to set the solar panels to run the pump. We also put the pump into the well. Today we pump water.

Inline image 1  Inline image 2
The crane arrived so we were able to erect the water tower.
Inline image 9
Lots of eager watchers – they cannot wait to have the water!!!
Inline image 5 Inline image 4
We’re impressed by the attention to detail with these guys.
Inline image 6  Inline image 7
This guy had to go up and retrieve the lifting harness from the lifting of the first half of the tower. Jim and I were offered the privilege, but we didn’t want to show anyone up.
Inline image 10  Inline image 8
And we have our tower… ready for the tank today.  Praise God that we get to make such a difference to such a critical need!


Inline image 8

Meet Pastor Titus Luther, Senior Pastor of Gospel Light Foursquare Church and the National Leader of the Solomon Islands Foursquare Church.  He is a husband and father of 6 kids. Of course if you want to include the many, many young people he “fathers” the number quickly goes to the hundreds.
Titus came to Solomon Islands six years ago to plant a church in Honiara, Guadalcanal, the capital of SI. In his native Papua New Guinea, he was the national youth director. So when he arrived he was immediately drawn to the street kids who live in Honiara, one of the poorest cities in the world. It reminds Jim and me a lot of Haiti without the earthquake. Street kids are the unwanted children who grow up mostly illiterate on the streets scrounging out a living. He opened a youth center to feed the kids and share the Gospel. Many receive Jesus. Of those who he saw promise, he invited them to his Institute (there are about 100 here now). The Institute is a few acres of mostly undeveloped land far from the streets of the city. The men and women who come here are trained in reading, writing, and most importantly, the Word of God. In their second year they go to one of the over 300 inhabited Solomon Islands to share Jesus. When they finally graduate, many of them will go to these islands to live and to plant churches. Others may continue for a higher education.
Inline image 7Jim Pringle and I arrived on Sunday and have been hard at work since. The folks from the church were still socially gathering. Children were everywhere (he also has a primary school – K-6 – that has about 85 kids. He has been given government approval (the Prime Minister of SI has recognized the work of the school and has come to the last two graduations. In fact, the young men and women from the Institute are sought by local businesses for work because of their work ethic and integrity, a reflection of the dedication of Titus to these kids.
Inline image 1   Inline image 2
Daily life is considerably consumed with getting water. A shallow well with swampy water provides everything, including drinking and cooking water (they boil the water before using). They bring it up by the bucket load. There are people there from dawn to dusk. The water tower they constructed for us will have to be raised another 15 feet.  We asked them to drill a deep well before we arrived and it is finished and able to provide 25 gallons per minute. Jim and I will be working with them to provide a complete campus water system – clean and filtered – that will last far into the future needs they are projecting. It will provide running water to every corner of the campus.
Inline image 6Pray that our time and productivity will be multiplied. This is an amazing work and great to be a part of.  Titus has repeatedly thanked us profusely for the impact this will have on his work here.




IMG_1964Pastor Sanchang Phago leads a church of about 40 people in a village called Jhiljeli in SE Nepal. His church is in a region of serious unrest as Nepal wrestles with its identity as a secular nation. Just this past September Nepal’s Constituent Assembly rejected calls to re-declare Nepal as a Hindu state and remove the term ‘secularism’ from the new Constitution. This triggered protests by Hindu activists and four churches in this area were bombed. To add to Nepal’s trouble, India is rationing shipments of petroleum and other essential goods into Nepal, forcing them to seek trade relief from China. Prices are spiraling out-of-control in a nation that is among the poorest on Earth. Caught in the struggle are the low caste people who simply lack the resources to deal with these changes.

Pastor Phago has his work cut out for him. He and the Christians in his congregation are being squeezed from every side. There is no economic advantage in Nepal to being a Christian. On the contrary, it may derail any economic or social opportunities a man or woman had previously enjoyed. His congregation is reeling under the weight of converging forces they are powerless to affect.

The stories I read of Rome in the Book of Acts remind me of India and Nepal. Hinduism is essentially polytheist, relying on a complex system of traditions and sacrifices led by an elite priest caste, much like the Paganism of Rome. Hindus have no problem adding Jesus to the pantheon of gods. It is not unusual to meet a Hindu who will tell you that he loves Jesus, was saved by Jesus and had his life changed by Jesus… while at the same time he is on his way to the temple to offer incense to Ganesh, the elephant god. However, if you reject Hinduism and call yourself a Christian, you are no longer part of the community and are likely to be ostracized.

Pastor Ajay, a church planter and friend (and former worshipper of Ganesh) has been encouraging church leaders in this part of Nepal. He runs a leaders training institute and has had a significant impact on the unity of churches in this region. He is a sacrificial advocate for the church leaders in this part of Nepal, like Pastor Phago. When I was in India last week he asked me to come and encourage the pastors of the region.

I couldn’t possibly turn him down. But it is humbling to think that he would ask me to encourage these men. I live in a country where we do not pay a price to be Christians. We may not have the endorsement we have previously enjoyed from society at large, but we are free to believe and to express the love of Jesus to the hurting world around us.

I met some amazing people — men and women who are struggling and have been discouraged of late. As privileged as I was to bring a word of encouragement, it was not my empathy, wisdom or experience that could make a difference – it was the word of God. And it was the dedication of an advocate named Pastor Ajay who knew what they needed in times like these when they are being squeezed from all sides.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)