Friday, November 14, 2014

Nepal Part 5: Good News for junk dealers and sadhus!

Nepal: Part 5! 2years ago, about this same time of year, I got to visit Nepal for my 1st time.
My initial contacts with this formerly Hindu kingdom had been through Prem Pradhan and Sundar Thapa, (as I’ve previously recounted). But I had lost track of them in the intervening years and had not been able to re-establish contact. Prem had graduated to heaven and Sundar was busy with his ever-growing church duties and fending off death threats from Hindu extremists, so he’d had to constantly change his address and phone numbers.
However, during this time I had taught in a Victory Bible College in Thailand that trains students from all over Southern Asia and one of these, another Prem- Bahadur, had asked me to come and teach in his new Training Centre in Nepal. Together with his wife, Lalita, and a committed team of helpers, they were believing God to touch + transform their nation with the gospel and I felt the call to help. They had only a dozen students, but they’d come from all parts of Nepal to be taught for a few months and then return to their towns and villages to make a difference for Jesus!
I stayed pretty well right in Kathmandu for 2 weeks, taught New Testament Survey during morning sessions, and then PremB + I would venture out on his motorbike during the afternoons.
While teaching the Book of Acts, I had a revelation quite like never before. In a Hindu culture where the endless cycle of karma and reincarnation dominate, Christ’s Resurrection is a revolutionary message, just as it had been in the Early Church! This is not just a religious idea: it is an historically-documented event! It has indeed taken place, the world will never be the same and that includes Nepal! I saw more clearly than ever why the gospel was now making such inroads in this country that had closed its doors for centuries. These people were tired of religious cycles; they were hungry + thirsty for the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
We drove through Kathmandu’s streets: dusty, dirty even, with garbage lying all round , even in their supposedly sacred places. I thought: they talk of reincarnation, but don't even practise recycling!
Piles of plastic: bags, bottles, jugs… confusion everywhere!
In the market place right next to the Durbar temple-palace centre of the city, a shopkeeper tried to sell me an ugly Kali idol for …he said, only $7000!
I asked him, ‘Why would I want to bring such an ugly thing into my home? You should pay me $7000 to take it off your hands! It’s ugly and it’s sinful!’
He replied, ‘I am empowered by sin!’
I countered: ‘I know Someone who has power over all sin.’
He questioned, ‘Who?’ and I played my Ace: 'Jesus!'
He said he’d heard of Him: Jesus was a god too, just like Kali, the destroyer.
‘No way!' I objected, ‘My God overcame and destroyed the destroyer!’
I figured we were just continuing the bargaining process: sales + spiritual.
But just then, another vendor overheard us and piped in, ‘ Oh, Jesus… that’s Christians, right? I met some Christians once and they gave me a book…’
He then began rummaging through a big chest next to the ugly idol and sure enough, after getting right to the bottom, he eventually emerged with a little book: a Gideon New Testament in Nepalese!
While the other idol-seller muttered, Prem read out its message and showed the 2nd man how to receive Jesus in his heart and not just keep Him in a box (literally). He said he wanted to! Amazing!
Right next to the idol, the light shone forth! Shiva was struggling to dance, but the Holy Spirit was destroying the destroyer’s mesmerizing works!
We then rode another ½ hr to Pashupatinath, one of Shiva’s main temples, right at one of the sources of the Ganges (Holy) River. Holy 'sadhus' (just a repackaged brand of Saddhucees) seated in front of their holy 'stupas'. Ascetics putting on an outward show of denying flesh, poop on their foreheads and more poop in their hair, all the while staring and daring the gawking tourists to take their pictures so they could charge them money (so much for their having forsaken the world!)
But I'm not a tourist; I'm a traveler! so I avoided their stares and dares, and furtively snapped a couple shots anyways when they weren’t looking.
Further up the river, caves labelled ‘Meditation’ wafted forth a distinctly different marijuana odour… some meditation!
Still further, funeral pyres burned corpses right on the riverbank in the midst of all the garbage!
Death and life simultaneously mixed in this religious complex.
And monkeys… everywhere! 1000s of monkeys! And they weren’t very holy monkeys either: they were constantly fighting + attacking one another, while trying to steal our stuff… like every religious system.
Dusk fell and we were leaving the temple, but Prem felt to turn aside at the riverbank, to a real God-encounter!
A sadhu approached and asked if I wanted to take his picture.
No, I said. I didn't want to give him my money. We started to talk and the poor soul was truly lost. He was searching, but couldn't really say for what. I perceived that he was, quite evidently, one very stoned sadhu and I told him he wasn't going to find truth that way. I hadn't and, I assured him, neither would he. I gave him the brief version of my testimony; he understood English quite well, even when I told him the good news of the gospel!
But again, another bystander had been listening in on our conversation and suddenly intervened. He was young, sharply dressed, very Western-looking, and asked if I was from Canada? (my red maple leaf hoodie was a clue maybe?) and what was I doing in Nepal?
I gave him my new standard response: ‘I’m visiting friends and giving out good news.’
‘Oh!’ he added, ‘I’m into news too. Sports news; I’ve got my own show every night on Kathmandu TV. What kind of news do you have?’
I briefly told him the Good News of Jesus. We also talked about how sports can easily become an idol and then he apologetically introduced himself as Paras, with the same name as the notorious playboy 'Prince of Nepal',
but … he insisted, he was searching for true peace.
I told him he needed the peace and assurance of God's constant love in Jesus.
All the while the sadhu was now listening in to our conversation. Paras was asking all the right questions and finally the sadhu chimed in, ‘You can take my picture now… you and me…for nothing!
This led to photos with both Paras and our sadhu: the prince of the principality + the religious drugs-slave.
Paras walked us back to our motorbike and recounted how he’d once intervened to save some Christian missionaries from being stoned (a different kind of stoned!) for preaching Christ in front of a temple. He’s been struck by how they believed Jesus was so special!
'But every religion is truth, isn't it?' he asked.
Truth is, I'd prayed that morning we would find a genuine truth-seeker that day and here he was... at the centre of one of the most religious and confusing places I'd ever been too… searching!
Another 10 minutes: more questions, exchanged emails and we got to pray with this ‘prince of Nepal’ to come to know the real Prince of Peace! He laughed and said that would be good!
Then we headed home!
And now I’m going back again, searching for more God-seekers in a land that is ripe with harvest!

No comments:

Post a Comment