What would you think if the headlines of your newspaper read “The Blind See, the Deaf Hear, and the Lame Walk!” Chances are you’ll never see these words in an American paper, but be assured; this declaration fails to do justice to what has taken place over the past 5 weeks in the Asian country of Nepal.
Unlike the usual manner of writing posts in third person, I (Dr. Michael Lanier) have elected to write this post in a first person format. I want you to feel the emotions that my partner Tom Stoy and I have shared with the Nepali people in recent weeks.
Imagine doing the greatest thing your heart ever desired to do. Now, imagine being used by God in a way that seems more fictitious than real. We’ve all read of great heroes of the faith that dared to do the impossible, thinking “If only I could have a miniscule share of such an adventurous work for Christ.” Well in truth, this life-long desire was realized in my trip to Nepal.
What a land of contrasts. The beauty of the Himalayan mountain range, including the lesser mountains in which we spent so much of our time, is difficult to describe. Imagine standing on the crest of a mountain with kindred mountains rolling gently into the distance—both before and behind you. With the coming of dusk and the fading cries of a distant cuckoo somewhere on the mountain side below, the warm red glow of fires across the valley spot the vista as home after home prepares for the coming night. And on an evening when electricity is available, envision a scene reminiscent of a thousand glow worms suspended from the ceiling of some great cavern, casting their faint light into the distance until they could be seen no more. In the moonless night, it was often difficult to discern star from home light when gazing across a valley. All were small and shared a similar glow. The effect played strangely within the human mind of perception as the stars seemed to permeate even the valley floor below. Such scenes can barely be described as they are best experienced.
Over the course of the nearly 5 weeks of ministry, the work of our God virtually defied the usual belief of the Western mind. Perhaps the greatest miracle came in the way of the 64 Hindus who became followers of Jesus Christ. This is no small matter, as some are sure to be disowned by family and friends for their decision. In addition, more than 900 infirmed souls were prayed over by Tom, our host, our 2 translators, and myself. In the end, according to Tom, who keeps close track of such matters, over 750 individuals were completely healed of their infirmities. This is even more significant than you might think because most suffered from multiple maladies. Another 120-130 received partial healing—either some afflictions among many were healed, or the degree of suffering was greatly reduced. (It is entirely possible that some of the partial healings were made complete in the days that followed.) Only between 20 and 30 individuals received no healing whatsoever. These were mostly in the first 2 weeks, or were individuals steeped in witchcraft, or were unusually hardened Hindus. It should be noted that according to the numbers, 97% of those who sought prayer were completely or partially healed. That is absolutely astonishing! Over the course of several weeks, from small home fellowships to churches numbering up to 100 believers, nearly everyone in need received healing. God’s mercy was poured upon believers and Hindus alike. The God of love and healing touched lives from all walks, just as did Jesus when He healed Samaritans, Romans, and Greeks who sought His favor.
With candor, I confess this trip was the most challenging mission venture I’ve ever taken. Missiologists would categorize Nepal as an E3 society—meaning it shares virtually nothing in common with American culture. I was constantly barraged with information that boggled my way of thinking. For brevity, I’ll list just a few:
- In some places, such as the capital city Kathmandu, Christians cannot bury their dead.
- It is not uncommon to witness partially burned corpses floating down a river as their Hindu funeral pyre atop the water would fail to completely incinerate the body.
- A man guilty of murder would likely receive a prison sentence of 12 years whereas a man guilty of killing a cow would receive 15 years of incarceration.
- During certain festivals, Hindus smear cow dung on the walls and floors of their homes for blessings. The same also drink the cow’s urine.
- In the capitol city of Kathmandu, during festivals, many faithful Hindus drink and bathe from the local river polluted with raw sewage.
- Members of the lowest caste, often referred to as “untouchables,” are forbidden to enter the home of any other caste.
- Electricity is rationed and is often available less than 12 hours in a day.
- Goat guts have the look, taste, and texture of calamari—something I learned first-hand.
- A 3 lane one-way road in Kathmandu can actually support 7 lanes of traffic.
With all that seems so strange to the American mind, I’ve discovered that I’ve fallen in love with the people and culture of Nepal. Their courtesy and respect is entirely refreshing, as is their willingness to please their guests. I was never allowed to carry anything larger than a flashlight. As an older man, I was always given the front seat of a vehicle. I was constantly asked, “Michael sir, is everything alright? Do you need anything?” How could anyone not appreciate such a kind and thoughtful people?
Yes, the work of missions is very much needed in this far-away corner of the world. God truly seems to manifest Himself in places where He is needed the most. In a culture that possesses few earthly goods, our God is willing and ready to reveal Himself wherever He is invited. To be a man charged with the responsibility—and tremendous privilege—of preaching the Gospel and praying for the sick, was at times, more than I could bear without the shedding of tears. Will I someday return? Only God-Almighty can prevent a repeat performance. I will return someday and next time, with the intention of doing even greater works.
I could not have embarked on this great journey without the love and support of my family and friends. Thank you, each one of you. Especially, I thank my dear wife Dale and my parents, Ross and Jo Lanier, who’ve always been my greatest supporters. I thank my friend Tom Stoy who chose to travel this venture with me. I thank everyone who contributed financially to make this mission trip possible. And I thank all who’ve kept us in prayer over the course of the past 5 weeks. Thank you each and every one.
Dr. Michael Lanier, Executive Director