We have been back from Nepal for a couple of weeks now and the stories behind the faces on my pictures are starting to fade. But there is one story that I think will stick with me for the rest of my life, the story of the two grandmas I met working on their farm.
As I walked up with my interpreter, they were bent over grinding up pumpkin seeds for pickles. We chatted a bit and a younger woman brought over some stools for us to sit on before wandering off to finish some work. We sat chatting with the women, learning about their lives. Soon they asked:
The Sisters: “Why have you come?”
Me: “I have come to tell you about a man who has changed my life. His name is Jesus. Have you heard of Him?”
“We have some family who are Christians but we do not know much.”
“Would you mind if I told you His story?”
“That would be okay.”
“In order to give the full story, I have to start in the beginning when God created the world. In it He placed a man and a woman. He walked with them in the earth and talked with them every day. They were friends. One day they disobeyed God’s instructions not to eat of the tree in the center of the garden. Because of this God told them that they must be separated from Him forever.”
“When you think of God, do you think of Him as a friend? Or does He seem far away?”
“Our lives are hell and when we die we are going to hell but if there is another way, we would love to hear it.”
Their response blew my mind. They were starving for a relationship with God and had lived over eighty years without knowing how much He loves them.
Over the next few minutes, I was able to tell them how God loved them so much that He sent His own Son Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. They understood this well since animal sacrifice is still practiced in Nepal. I explained how God wants to have a close relationship with them and that through Jesus they could know God.
They spent some time thinking on this new information before responding. Then quietly one sister answered for them both.
“This is great news and we would like to accept what you are saying. But we are very old and if we become Christians our family will reject us. Who will take care of us?”
They were not exaggerating. Many Christians face rejection from their families and friends when they start following Jesus. Here in America that means emotional pain. In Nepal, it can mean being cut off from your water supply, the community bank and work force, medicine, and in the case of the vulnerable members of society, food, shelter and care.
With the help of my Nepali brother, I explained to them that Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd and He would not call them into His fold just to abandon them. I further explained that Jesus commanded His followers to take care of those who are not able to care for Himself so we would ensure that the members of the local church would come and check on them.
We talked through a few more concerns together and then they finally said that they too wanted to follow Jesus. We prayed together, thanking God for His love, sacrifice and His promise of eternity with Him. Afterward they each gave me a hug with huge smiles on their faces.
I walked away, still working through my roller-coaster of emotions. Saddened that they had each experienced over eighty years of life and hardship without knowing the God of love. Humbled that I had the privilege of being a messenger of love to them. Concerned that they might be abandoned by their family.
And happy. Happy because their happiness was contagious, so clearly evident in their eyes. Eyes that had just been clouded with heaviness.
I used one of my Nepali phrases to express this to them before I left: “Khushi lagyo”, which means, I am happy.