How two motorcycles and a ministry in Nepal connect is a story David Kapteyn, a 1974 Calvin College graduate, never tires of telling. He expresses amazement each time he recounts his journey from Calvin to a Nepalese mountain-top village.
Kapteyn graduated with a sociology/psychology degree and an interest in criminal justice. Mentored by professors Don Smalligan and Ted Rottman, he began a 29-year career with the Grand Rapids Police Department.
“My profs told me we needed Christians in police work,” he said. “I spent seven years of my time working undercover with a drug enforcement task force. It was an amazing experience.”
He retired from the police force and spent his time on “Jesus and motorcycles.” He went on a number of mission trips to India and also became a motorcycle mechanic apprentice.
These two post-work priorities came together after an experience in Nepal.
“I visited the remote village of Simikot in the northwest portion of Nepal and met a young evangelist named Philip Shahi. So many God-inspired things happened in my time there, and I was so impressed by Philip’s fearless evangelism that I felt called to help start an organized mission there,” he said.
Kapteyn set up Good News Nepal as an official nonprofit ministry and took on the responsibilities for the organization’s finances.
“Hundreds of people have come to faith because of the work of the Spirit through Philip,” said Kapteyn. “How can you not want more of that amazing grace to continue?”
In the meantime, Kapteyn’s motorcycle hobby extended to assisting another ministry, Compassionate Heart. Kapteyn and others would give motorcycle rides to kids and families served by that organization. While doing so, he met another motorcyclist, Frank Hoogland, a 1975 Calvin College graduate.
Although they had overlapped for three years at Calvin, neither was acquainted with the other previously.
Hoogland looked in on his new riding friend one day and learned about Kapteyn’s efforts with the mission in Nepal.
Kapteyn came up with an idea: How about the two of them riding motorcycles and supporting ministry in Nepal?
So the two Calvin grads rented bikes in Kathmandu, saw a lot of the beautiful country of Nepal, and eventually arrived (no longer on motorcycles) in Philip’s town of Simikot.
“It is like stepping back in time because of the remoteness of the place, with yak and mule trains serving as the main supply source,” said Kapteyn. “But there is such enthusiasm for Christianity. It’s like seeing the church of Acts in action.”
Kapteyn continues his efforts of promotion and financial support; Hoogland is now on board to investigate economic development for the region.
“I’ve been involved in business and ministry startups,” said Hoogland, a Calvin business major. “This area of the world presents a real challenge. We’ll see what we can do to make the town more self-supporting.”
There are now 15 full-time indigenous missionaries assisting Philip, and the enthusiastic evangelist records a gospel message that is heard on four Hindi radio stations in the region.
“The little Frank and I do is nothing compared to Philip’s work and, above all, the power of Jesus Christ,” said Kapteyn. “After what I’ve witnessed, there’s no predicting what miracles will come next.”