We had a visit from some old friends at church yesterday. Two young men who had met and become friends through a college ministry stopped by to tell us about the amazing things they are doing in Nepal. I found myself drawn right into the history Neeraj Gautam shared about his home country and the incredible need they have.
He told us about the 3 women, 2 doctors and a nurse, who heard God’s call to minister to Nepal in the 1930s. Yes. The 1930s. They traveled there, and since Nepal was closed to outsiders, they walked to the border, sat down and prayed. And prayed and prayed. For fifteen years.
Neeraj’s grandparents became the first Christians in this closed country. Can you even imagine that? In the 1950s, Neeraj’s country got their first hospital. They built their first church. In 2000, Neeraj came to Oklahoma to study to be a mechanical engineer. He lived in the States for 8 years until he was called home to work withInternational Nepal Fellowship. He began the process of understanding his family’s and his country’s remarkable faith history. His eyes were on fire as he shared with passion about his grandmother, 100 years old, praying for forgiveness daily. As he talked about the bigness of a God who can use tiny things and time to build a foundation.
I was simply enthralled by his joy and his faith and his desire to do good works for his people. Neeraj said that the communities he serves now are mostly female, as the men travel to India to work 7 months out of the year because work is scarce.When Neeraj was first back in Nepal, he couldn’t understand why they weren’t using the newly built outhouses; human waste lay about the villages. The outhouses were being used as storehouses for their grain.
INF’s work is to teach the communities about good farming practices, how to use what they have to support themselves and how to stay healthy. The women are trained to produce goods that they can sell to support their families, whether clothes or crops. He told about how one woman burst into a smile when she picked her first carrots and insisted he take them. INF provides clinics for those with leprosy so they can be treated and rehabilitated.
The most stunning fact Neeraj shared was that Nepal operates on a caste system out of which one can not crawl. If you are born a Brahmin, you die a Brahmin. And if you are born an untouchable, you die an untouchable. And like Jesus, INF is doing its work among the outcasts.
I don’t have a big lesson here or some amazing truth to reveal. Their story is too big and wide for this small space. I wanted to share that there are people doing big, good, strong, tough things in the world. Neeraj said it himself: loving God means social concern.