She lives next door in a tiny, run-down brick home, just one step up from a shack. One window is covered with cardboard. She lives with her two young children and her in-laws. Her husband is in another country working. He goes for two years at a time.
She is my neighbor, Nirmala. Nirmala works as our gardener/yard worker. We have grown quite attached to her.
God has given us several opportunities to share the Gospel with her. It takes a lot of patience, because the Gospel is such a foreign concept for the people here. But either way, we love her… Christian or not.
She has gone to church with us several times. She seems so happy when she is there. And yet, she still wears the red tika (dot) on her head at home and still rings her bells each day. What is holding her back? Fear.
Wednesday, Nirmala said she wanted to go to the special church service with us on Thursday. Wednesday evening, I got a text.
“Chari, I am not going because my mother in-law is not like in church.”
Her English was not perfect, but I knew what she was saying. Nirmala had been coming to church secretly with us. She was not telling her in-laws where she was going. And she still has not told her husband that she has been going to church. She is afraid.
Becoming a Christian could cost her many things… her family, her marriage…
For some the price is great.
Today, she again went to church with us without telling anyone where she was going. She told me this when we got in the church and sat down. I asked her if she was afraid. She smiled a shy smile… the kind that covers up what a person is really feeling.
“Yes, I am afraid.”
I did my best to speak in her language to make sure she understood the questions I was about to ask.
“You believe this Book is truth?”
“Yes, I do,” she replied.
I struggled to think of the word “decision,” but I couldn’t remember. So I asked her, “Do you understand the English word ‘decision?’”
Then in her language, except for the word “decision” I said, “It is a difficult decision, but it is a good decision.”
I told her how I was the first in my family to become a Christian, and how three years after I became a Christian, my Dad became a Christian. Then I told her about the men who were there at the church sitting in the back. They were from the village of Kanchanpur. They were the first in their families and in their village. The people of the village do not like that they are Christians now, but these men love the people of their village. They want to put a new church in the village. The people have been mean, but they love the people in spite of it.
“Someone must be first,” I said. And then I repeated, “Dherai gaharo decision chha, tara dherai raamro decision chha.” (It is a very difficult decision, but it is a good decision.)
My heart aches for her. I wish I could tell her that everything will be fine. I wish I could say, “If you become a Christian, your family will accept you.” But, no. The decision here is more real than ever. They are deciding whether or not the truth is worth losing things for… they are deciding if Christ is worth giving everything up for.
What is the Gospel worth to you? Would you lose everything for the sake of the truth? Would you have the courage to “be first?” I am praying for God’s grace to give her the courage to accept the truth and trust God with the rest. Please pray for this country… and please pray for my dear friend, Nirmala.