What I'm Learning from Starting F3 in Nepal

  • Workout Date - 12/02/2023
  • Q In Charge -
  • The PAX -
  • AO -
Let me preface this by saying that I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’ve learned a few things in this process and thought it might be helpful to share for those who may be breaking out to try and start a workout in a foreign country.
You must know that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, one of the most corrupt, and all the while one of the most stunningly beautiful (once you get into the mountains at least).
These are random notes I’ve taken about starting here, in no particular order.
  • In the US, the primary guys that are attracted to and benefit the most from F3 are middle aged. Not all, but a lot of times they are going through a mid-life crisis and looking for something bigger than themselves. Sad clowns. In Nepal, it seems to be a bit different. Middle aged guys rarely exercise, or even have a desire to. So far, I’ve found that most of the guys who want to come are young guys in their late teens and twenties. This group of men need real faith and daily fellowship for several reasons:
      • Unemployment is through the roof, and good jobs are nearly non-existent. Literally thousands leave each day to work in the middle east, 80% of all men in their 20’s move to another country to find work. Most never return.
      • A hopeless religion – Hinduism teaches them fatalism and reincarnation, neither of which offer real truth or hope.
      • An ineffective education system – they are taught rote learning, and no critical thinking skills for innovation and progress.
      • So without this, and without money for education, they are left to pursue things to fill the void – often drugs and alcohol.
      • They need community, and F3 has proven to be an excellent outlet for this.
  • First, get to know the culture you are working in. In Nepal that’s going to be very different than say Paris.
  • Develop culture first: You can’t just start with just anyone. In order to reach people, you have to have a culture. In order to have a culture, you have to have a Core group of dedicated men who show up, are passionate, and are committed to the vision. This takes LOTS OF TIME. It may take years. I’ve found that believers with strong Faith and a desire for Fellowship are a must to start with. If you don’t have that, develop that first. In the U.S., you can often come into a new city and find scores of these guys waiting in the shadows. That’s probably not the case in the third world or most other countries.
  • Grow deep before you grow wide: It takes time to develop that Core group. You may be able to get big numbers quickly, but depth takes time.
  • In fact, that may be the hardest part, developing the Core. It’s said that great leaders make great leaders. So really, it’s the “12 Disciples” phase. It took Jesus 3 years and He’s pretty amazing so how long is it going to take me?
  • Third Cultures are by nature, different than our American Status Quo:  duh. be in tune to those difference. Timeliness is a major issue in Nepal. Just getting to the workout is hard, as only 1-2 of our guys have a bicycle or motorcyle. None have a car. The rest walk. Think about clothes and showering – they can’t just go home, jump in the warm shower, grab a clean change of clothes, and go out the door. They might not even own a change of clothes. Plus, they might not have decent tennis shoes to wear to the workout, or exercise clothes for that matter. We have lots of guys who wear their casual every day clothes, jeans and sweater, with casual shoes, because that’s all they own.
  • The difficulty of the workouts: This one is very tricky. You want to make the workouts hard, because that’s one of the central tenants. But at the beginning, chances are almost no one will be ready for that, so they’ll be suffering, and that could turn them away before they get the chance to experience it. Just make sure and be gentle here, I wish I had been more gentle at the beginning. I’m working on that.
  • Workout times and lengths: in Nepal, 5:15am simply wouldn’t be tenable. People don’t get out to work until’ 9 or 10am. Plus, almost none of the guys coming even have jobs or families. So they don’t need to do that early. We’ve found 6:30am to be a happy medium. Play around with time. Also, you might want to start with 30 minute workouts until’ the PAX is more fit. I started with one day a week (Saturday) and then waited until’ the demand was there and moved to 4 workouts/week.
  • Language barrier: My goal is to do it all in Nepali, but we’ve had to use English words for certain things. They have a hard enough time remembering “pushup” in a foreign language, let alone “merkin”. they have no context for weird words in a foreign language. Be sensitive to that, and use native words where possible. We do our counts in Nepali.
  • In the end, be willing to compromise where you need, but know where the “uncompromisable things” are. Like the mission and values.
  • Get into Second and Third F as quickly as possible – this is the glue. When we moved to 4 days a week, we started a Bible study and English class after the workouts. We also started doing trash pickup on the campus. Then we moved into serving in other ways. We did a benefit concert for refugees. We started kids clubs in brick factories. FNG’s started coming and saying things like, “I’ve never seen a group of guys who care about each other like this.” After the earthquake, the guys were critical in digging through rubble, mobilizing food and supplies, and serving in various ways. If it’s not focused on serving one another, it loses its purpose and becomes just another workout.
  • Let guys start leading as soon as possible: This isn’t supposed to be about one guy. It’s about men becoming servant leaders. Let them fail. And fail again. Be patient. It’s OK, the main thing is they are showing up and putting in effort.
  • Feed fires that start from the PAX: For example, one of the guys in Kathmandu raised his hand during CoT and said, “why don’t we start picking up trash on the campus after our workouts?” We started doing it. And it is one of the things early on that really brought us together, where the guys saw the potential in living on mission together. They started saying, “We are the light of the world” so we made that our slogan. Let it happen organically, bring out what’s already there. Don’t try to superimpose something from another group or from America.
  • Have Fun. Stick with it. Show up even when you’re discouraged and no one else shows up. Spread the passion, the guys will see it and eventually some of them will catch on. Relentlessly promote it. Get them to promote it. Tell your waiter, the guy next to you on the bus, whoever will listen. Promote it together at events and places where men congregate. Stick with it. Eventually someone else is going to catch the fire.

We have a long way to go in Kathmandu. The country has been through incredible setbacks. However, there’s a Core here who get it and are leading, serving one another. That’s a good start I think.

13 thoughts on “What I'm Learning from Starting F3 in Nepal”

  1. These lessons also apply in Indiana. They apply anywhere where there’s not an existing culture that makes F3 easy to start and grow. Thank you for your insight and consistency with F3 Kathmandu! I hope I can meet up with you there sometime.

  2. Sherpa – thank you for sharing – I’m in complete awe by what you have done and it is a HUGE insparation for me and for us. It really does show what F3 really is all about. Thank you again and keep up the amazing work. Iron Sharpens Iron. Praying for you and the pax in Nepal, and world wide.

  3. ‘They started saying, “We are the light of the world” so we made that our slogan.’

    “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

    Thank you for lighting the way for these men, Sherpa.

    T-claps and God’s grace to you.

  4. I like where Bud is going with that last post. Sherpa – Please start to think about that. Maybe a F3 2016 race shirt for the entire PAX and some shoes for starters? Let us know. RY F3 NOLA.

  5. Bud and Reluctant Yankee – great ideas. We did a group run and shoe drive last year and are shipping a bunch of shoes over for the PAX so for now it will be enough. Definitely a need in the future though. We’re doing a Brick Run and shoe drive again in October, which will be a great place to donate shoes for future groups. (Brick Run in solidarity with the children working in brick factories, as well as a fundraiser for the mission). It will be Oct. 15 in Greenville, SC.

  6. OBT and I learned something about Planting Workouts early on that surprised us but has always been true. We knew there were three required components: 1) Location; 2) FNGs, and 3) The PlantQ. For some reason, we focused mostly on the first two. Location and FNG’s seemed to be most critical to us. The PlantQ was almost an afterthought to us.

    Ultimately we found out that we had our priorities reversed. You can do F3 in a Walmart parking lot. Location doesn’t matter. The world is full of FNGs. If you build it, they will come. But the PlantQ? The HIM both willing and able to do what Sherpa-GVL has done? That man is as rare as a hen’s tuth.

    Press on Brother. Your Impact is incalculable.

    1. Thanks DREDD, for saying that. Truth is, you’ve provided the foundation. There’s no way I’d be here if it wasn’t for transformation that came in my life as a result of the F3.

  7. WOW! Love the story. Love the comments. Too many powerful lessons to replicate here. If this is what can be accomplished in 5 years, imagine what the next 5 could look like!

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