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Wybe Bylsma in Nepal during the first quake

After two days of waiting, praying and knitting, Jean Bylsma heard her husband Wybe’s voice on the phone, just briefly, saying he was fine and, like most of Nepal’s earthquake survivors, “living on the street” for safety during the aftershocks.

Wybe, 77, was doing solo mission work in Kathmandu on April 25, when Nepal was devastated by its first +7-magnitude earthquake, which killed an estimated 8,000 people and injured 17,000 more.

Jean had spoken to him a few hours before the quake, but wasn’t able to reach his cell phone following the disaster. His family posted information about Wybe to CNN’s “Looking for Loved Ones in Nepal” website while they waited anxiously for news.

When Wybe finally called on April 27, it was on a borrowed phone – just after two in the morning in Ontario and noon in Nepal. “I don’t know why you’re worried about me!” he said. “People here need help.”

Their daughter, Christy Stover, joked with a local reporter that “‘the cat has come back,’ explaining that her father is known to do some daring things and come out safely. ‘He seems to have nine lives,’” (Northumberland News) Stover said. 

Five days after the quake, 15-year-old Pemba Tamang was rescued from a collapsed hotel.  Trapped under seven stories of rubble, Tamang had given up shouting for help on Day Two. Wybe heard of the astonishing rescue and went to visit the teenager in hospital.

“What do you need?” he asked.

“I’m hungry,” Tamang said. “I need clothes.” So Wybe scrounged up food and clothing.

It’s not unusual for him to make connections like this. Wybe has been travelling to Asia to spread the gospel for the last 14 years, which he does through a combination of befriending individuals, networking and sharing a Reformed world-and-life view.

The Bylsmas are members of Grace Christian Reformed Church in Cobourg, Ont. Wybe has been featured in several Christian Courier articles, including our most recent issue (May 11) and a story about his work in Nepal (March 24, 2014, online at christiancourier.ca/ under “past issues”).

On May 6, Wybe left Nepal for China, not deterred from his original route.   


  • Angela became Editor of CC in 2009, having learned English grammar in Moscow, research skills in grad school and everything else on the fly. Her vision is for CC to give body to a Reformed perspective by exploring what it means to follow Jesus today. She hopes that the shared stories of God at work in the world inspire each reader to participate in the ongoing task of renewing his creation. Angela lives in Newcastle, Ontario with her husband, Allan, and three children.

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