|The Kathmandu Valley in 2012
Kathmandu, Nepal, is one of my very favorite cities on earth. We first visited there as a family for Lauren’s high school graduation in 2012. A year later, I returned on a work assignment. I loved it as much the second time as I did the first. In spite of bumpy roads and staggered electricity, the culture is colorful, and the people are fun!
So, when news of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake first reached me early Saturday morning, I immediately thought of the people there. In my mind, I walked those busy streets again, picturing what they must look like in the rubble of the quake’s aftermath.
And I prayed.
I prayed for my friends, Christian workers with small children who love their city and its people. I prayed for their safety, and I prayed they will have opportunities to share God’s love in the midst of the devastation and fear.
I prayed for the tourists — the trekkers, the volunteers and the families on holiday. What a scary place to be when the world turns upside down.
Most of all, I prayed for the Nepali and Tibetan people — for those who know Christ and especially for those who don’t.
One of the starkest memories from my time in Nepal is my visit to the Pashupatinath Temple
on the banks of the Bagmati River. Located on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and attracts hundreds of elderly Hindus each year. Hindus believe if they die in this temple, they will be reborn as a human, regardless of the bad karma they may have accumulated during their lives.
|A view of Pashupatinath Temple, 2012.
Hindus come to Pashupatinath to die.
We saw ambulances delivering people to the temple so they could breathe their last breath at this site. After they die, their bodies are cremated on the banks of the river, which Hindus consider sacred, and their ashes are tossed into the water, which flows to the Ganges.
The scene from the banks of the Bagmati is chaotic, as ambulances approach, families and tourists mill about and the smoke from burning bodies rises.
It is easy to be appalled.
I wondered, as scenes of toppled Hindu temples and news of damaged Buddhist stupas began to filter in from news and social media outlets, how the temple at Pashupatinath fared. While my heart breaks for the lives lost and the damage to Nepal’s historical and cultural sites, I admit that I rejoiced just a little bit at seeing statues of false gods, which so spiritually enslave the people, lying in ruins like a scene from the Book of Jeremiah.
Pashupatinath suffered little damage during the quake. In fact, the Times of India reports that hundreds of quake victims were cremated there Sunday. Relatives “jostled for space,” and many had to perform the last rites outside designated spots because of overcrowding.
How very sad. Of the 28.8 million people in Nepal, less than 300,000 are followers of Jesus. Extrapolating those figures, of the more than 3,000 people killed in Saturday’s quake, only 30 met Jesus face-to-face.
If news like this doesn’t spur us to action, what will?
And if you’re wondering what action you can take, so far away from the disaster’s epicenter, here are two suggestions:
- Pray for basic shelter, water and food. These necessities are a high priority right now, Rain writes, since no one is allowed back in their homes. The nights are cold, and monsoon season can start any day.
- Pray for God’s people to deeply know His comfort and peace during this time. Pray for their children as they deal with the trauma of a world turned upside down.
- Pray for people in Nepal and surrounding areas during the continuing aftershocks and aftermath of this disaster.
- Thank God for the safety of a volunteer team from North Carolina and other Christian workers. Pray for their stamina as they minister to those around them.
Southern Baptist assessment teams will begin surveying the damage Monday, April 27, to find the best ways to respond, Rain reports. To make donations for first response items such as basic survival needs of water, shelter, food and healthcare, go to BGR’s “Where Needed Most” Fund.
The people of Nepal need God’s love. You can help.