Nepal: A Big Stick, a Bigger Jesus

Dec 1, 2022 | VoM

Growing up as a Buddhist in Nepal, Min Maya made fun of her Christian friends.

She occasionally visited the church in her village to obtain free school supplies, but otherwise, she had no use for Christianity. Her mother didn’t even like her accepting free pencils and paper from the church.

Min Maya’s mother was a Buddhist lama who performed rituals to bless the many villagers who requested her services. Every morning, Min Maya was required to join in Buddhist worship at the family shrine.

When she was old enough to leave her parents’ home, Min Maya moved in with her older sister in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, where jobs were plentiful and the pay was better.

While in Kathmandu, she became severely ill, and her mother sent Buddhist priests to offer remedies. Min Maya’s health remained unchanged, so her sister, Suku Maya, who had received a Bible from a Christian friend, invited some Christians to pray for her.

Min Maya’s health quickly improved, but she worried that accepting the Christians’ prayers might mean she had to become a Christian. Then, when another Buddhist priest learned about Min Maya’s illness and prayed for her, Min Maya’s health again deteriorated. She knew she had to call the Christians for help.

That night, a pastor and his wife visited Min Maya and prayed for her.

“That was the right moment for me to know that I must follow the Lord Jesus Christ,” Min Maya said. “But my mum disagreed with this decision.”

Min Maya’s family soon decided that she needed to return home, and her mother urged her to find another lama to pray for her. “If I go [to the lama], I will die,” Min Maya thought. “I don’t want to die; I want life.”

When Min Maya told her parents that she had been healed through the Christians’ prayers and wanted to attend church every week, her mother became very angry. “If you go to church,” she shouted, “I will kick you out of this house!”

Min Maya spent the night at her aunt’s house, and the next day she returned home and began attending church secretly. Each Saturday, the day Nepali Christians gather for worship, Min Maya waited for her mother to leave before taking a 20-minute bus ride to a church in another village.

After about a month, some neighbours discovered where Min Maya was going and told her mother. When Min Maya returned that day, her mother tried to hit her with a large wooden board, so Min Maya ran to a friend’s house and called her pastor.

The next day, Min Maya gathered her courage and returned home to speak with her mother. But her mother, still in a rage, ordered her to leave and not come back. “It was a very fearful moment,” Min Maya said.

After taking refuge for several nights with a Christian family and then in her church, she was invited to a Christian training programme in Kathmandu. Meanwhile, she stayed in touch with her father, who was careful to keep his phone away from his wife so she wouldn’t know he had been talking with Min Maya.

Several months later, Min Maya’s mother called and said she wanted to see her. After the family shared a meal one evening, Min Maya’s mother pulled out a big stick and brandished it at Min Maya and her sister, who had returned home during the pandemic.

“Who is the biggest?” her mother asked. “Is your mother the biggest, or is your Jesus the biggest?”

When Min Maya and her sister replied that Jesus is the biggest, their mother struck Suku Maya’s leg and then walked towards Min Maya. Her brothers and father protected her from harm, but Min Maya’s mother continued to oppose her and her sister because of their Christian faith.

Every week, their mother would stay by the front door with her stick, preventing the girls from leaving the house to attend church. “We decided Jesus is with us,” Min Maya said, “[so] why don’t we pray one-on-one inside the house?”

Realising that the girls were praying when their eyes were closed, their mother ordered them not to close their eyes. Then she hid food from them, leaving the girls with nothing to eat. When she offered them rice, they knew she was purposely serving them food offered to idols at the temple.

During her difficult time at home, Min Maya took comfort from the book of Matthew.

“The major thing was that Jesus came into this world for our sins and He experienced pain like we experienced,” Min Maya said. “Jesus also suffered … for us. That is really special for me.”

One night, after Min Maya’s brother became so angry that he beat her, the sisters decided they had to leave.

A front-line worker arranged for them to receive training to become tailors, and they soon opened a shop where they produce formal gowns like wedding dresses. Christians have helped them purchase five sewing machines, and they have hired another Christian girl to work with them. The sisters live in a room above the shop, but the building owner has warned them not to allow Christians or foreigners in their shop.

One of Min Maya’s favourite verses is, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). The sisters’ relationship with their family is still difficult, and their mother and most villagers blame the recent death of the girls’ father on their Christian faith.

Min Maya, now 23, continues to follow the Lord, rising early every morning to read the Bible, pray and worship. “Worship is the best for me,” she said. “It is like the heart-to-heart time with the Lord.”