As I was waiting at London Heathrow for my flight to Kathmandu, a friend sent me Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (NKJV). I thought I understood this verse before this trip, but it has had a new significance for me during my three weeks in Nepal.
Nepal is a country of prevalent spirituality. The population is 81 percent Hindu, 9 percent Buddhist, and just more than 1 percent Christian, so temple worship and an awareness of greater beings is a natural part of daily life. Shrines are dotted every hundred meters or so along the street, and the chiming sounds of temple bells ring throughout the city in the early mornings.
It’s hard not to fall in love with the charm and friendliness of locals, but the positive attitude of so many is marred by the events of April 25, 2015. Kathmandu is shadowed against a backdrop of cloud, smog, and the imposing Himalayan mountains, and life a year after the earthquake is slowly returning to normal.
However, in rural Langtang, a small village more than 11,000 feet above sea level, deep in the Himalayas, the effects of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake were, and are, felt dearly. While talking to some of those most affected by the earthquake, I heard stories of the many loved ones lost in the earthquake and resultant avalanches.
While that heartache is one that no amount of international aid can solve, Samaritan’s Purse and its partners in Nepal are working to make daily life less difficult for residents. The introduction of a mule to every household in Langtang has given residents the independence to transport housing materials and food from the nearest town.
The journey would usually be a three-day trek along rocky footpaths, but now instead of hiring mules, residents can use their own, saving them both time and money. This means that houses can be built more quickly, and people will have shelter in time for the fast-approaching, bitter winter.
Elsewhere in Nuwakot and Kavre, as reconstruction efforts continue, the earthbag houses that Samaritan’s Purse is building will be earthquake-resistant. While observing Samaritan’s Purse engineers train local residents in masonry and other house building techniques, I began to realize the opportunities for future employment that this will bring. Although Nepal is currently a country of devastation, it has the potential for a bright future, and the training given by Samaritan’s Purse plays a part in bringing future employment for some residents.
Although, as a Christian, I don’t share the same God as the majority of Nepali people, the significant presence of religion, and the importance the Nepali people place on spirituality, has challenged me. Do I go into every situation with the message of the Gospel in the forefront of my mind? What does it look like for me to recognize that “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”?
My prayer for Nepal is for more people to hear about and to know Jesus than ever before. And I know that Samaritan’s Purse will continue to play a part in helping people to rebuild after the earthquake in Jesus’ name.