looking back on missionary life

Banepa, Nepal, May 2005.

Since our first week in Nepal when we woke up to a bomb, our days have overflowed with adventure and blessings, trials and tears. With every turn we have felt the fire of the Holy Spirit melting and molding us into everything but what we thought we ought to be and do as missionaries. From these times we’ve learned a few things:

Danger and security are relative terms. “At an estimated 10 killings a day, Nepal’s is the deadliest conflict in Asia. . . .” (TIME, April 25, 2005, p.21) In such a climate Scheer Memorial Hospital is a haven! It’s a landmark of the community, a symbol of security. While bombs go off outside the campus, bringing down school walls to ruble, we have been safe.

Spiritual gifts surface under pressure. We do things in Nepal we never we knew we were capable of. In all our years of marriage, we entertained twice; here we entertain several times a week. Roy has always been an introvert; at Scheer no one can shut him up. I’ve never been one to empathize or sympathize; here I’m the resident Ann Landers. We’ve learned first hand that God chooses us not because of what we are but who we can be in His control.

Adventure is mission life on the edge. 2001, our first year, the King, his family and all his immediate heirs were assassinated. 2002 was the start of a “shoot-to-kill” curfew that is still in effect. 2003, seismologists determined that Nepal was due for a major earthquake with an estimated death toll of 20,000 within the next three years; the projected epicenter is clearly visible from my bedroom window! In 2004 schools and business were forced to shut down for over 30% of the year, forcing us to remain on campus for several days at a time. In 2005 the King abolished Nepal’s democratic government and took over, revoking many rights including those to free speech, assembly, and property ownership.

Restrictions give birth to freedom. Because it is illegal to proselytize, we cannot pitch a tent for Dwight Nelson or Mark Finley. Yet this restriction has forced us to get out of Adventist culture and find creative ways to exemplify Christ: We host one of the nation’s top medical schools on campus, bringing over 100 Hindu young people here every day; We share office space with Nepal Network Center for Cancer Treatment and Research, resulting in Scheer being the second hospice center in the whole country; We formulated the country’s first health insurance package, making healthcare an affordable benefit for businesses; We accept volunteers of all walks of life and faith, offering a first-hand experience of the Adventist, mission-oriented lifestyle; We organize the only international marathon in the country, drawing runners from 20 countries and raising money—not for ourselves but for other hospitals; We send out medical teams to areas where terrorists reign and where there is no medical care within at least one hour’s walking distance, creating opportunities to show the compassion of Jesus; We have the only Adventist school in the country under the guise of “home schooling,” sending Jesus into homes in the backpacks and hearts of little Hindu children; We are opening an orphanage after being touched by an abandoned baby, giving a future to her and other baby girls; etc. etc.

Our daughter, Sky, thinks the predicted earthquake will be a pretty cool way to wrap up our experience in Nepal. We, on the other hand, are satisfied with the dose of excitement and adventure we already have! Here we don’t have to stop and concentrate to see God. He is right here, every day, loud and clear, calling us to step outside our job descriptions for a dose of His Power.

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