Have you ever seen someone with leprosy? Most lepers have malformation of their fingers, toes and face. When you see someone whose body has been taken by leprosy, it is obvious that life is hard — physically, emotionally and definitely socially.
I have been to Nepal more times than I can count, a land where leprosy is common and shunned. If someone has leprosy it is thought to be a curse and contagious. So those people are cast out of their families, most of them forced into a homeless life and left to beg on the streets. I have witnessed this scenario many times. Each time my heart sinks into my stomach and I can’t decide whether what I feel is compassion, empathy, or nausea.
I am not proud of that.
At the place where we serve in Nepal, they have taken in the most amazing and sweetest lady with leprosy. I have talked with her many times, introduced her to teams, helped her up and down steps, taken her meals, and each time my flesh wrestles.
In November I was once again in Nepal leading a team through Swayambhunath often referred to as “Monkey Temple,” which is a Buddhist temple in Kathmandu, to expose the team to the practices and traditions of Buddhism. Trip after trip I have walked by beggars, crippled with leprosy sitting near the steps of the temple. Each time I don’t know what that pit in my stomach is representing. Each time I just walked by them … except in November.
This time I heard God very clearly tell me to STOP and give this man some money. So I did. I felt good. I continued walking down the stairs.
After taking about five steps, God nudged the places of my heart that don’t get awakened very often because of my need for control. The whisper in my heart said, “Go sit with him. Ask him what his name is.”
I turned back and walked up the stairs to sit with this man. I took his dirty, disfigured hands in mine, and in my very limited Nepali, I said, "Timrō nāma kē hō [What is your name?].”
He spoke, but I couldn’t understand him because of the malformation of his face.
“Do you worship Buddha?”
“I worship Jesus, and I think Jesus was asking me to come sit with you to tell you that He loves you very much and wants you to follow Him.”
At this point in the conversation, I was pretty sure he wasn’t even understanding anything I was telling him. But I looked up at him, and his eyes were filled with tears and they were spilling down his face.
“Jesus,” he said. “Daughter Jesus.” He was pointing to his heart.
I was struggling to understand. He kept repeating those words. Then, ah ha! He was explaining that his daughter follows Jesus! Out of the millions of people in this country, only 2 percent are Christian. God sat me down with a leper whose daughter is in that 2 percent!
About that time, a group of distinguished looking men came walking up the steps. They asked me, as if they were certain, “Is this man bothering you?” I told them that this man is my friend and that he was not bothering me at all. They looked disgusted and moved on.
My new friend pulled out a tiny ripped piece of paper and a pen, and I wrote down my Facebook name. I told him to please give this to his daughter. He nodded.
We held hands for a few moments more, cried together, and I got up. Changed.
About 12 hours later, I received a Facebook message from the daughter of my new friend. We have been chatting ever since. I now know her painful story and how Jesus found her in the middle of extreme brokenness and redeemed her life. I am excited to go visit with her and meet her in person when I return to Nepal. Together, we are praying for her father to come to know the One True God. Jesus!
Pray with us for my friend, Buddhi, a leper, who sits daily at the steps of a Buddhist Temple in Kathmandu.
God forever is amazing me with His timing, detail, and care in my life. To quote a song that a friend recently wrote, “He sees me. He knows me. He loves me and He cares. His fingerprints are on my life, and I can feel Him there.” I am grateful THAT is the God I serve.