A persistent cough. Witch doctor remedies. Death. Could Jesus break the chains of ritualistic religion?
Bibek glanced up at the snowy mountain peaks before entering the familiar, humble home of Amir and Dhriti in Nepal.* This was where his parents had lived ever since he could remember. Now, 27, married and living in another village, Bibek and his wife, Alina, visited whenever they could.
Inside, Dhriti had almost finished preparing the evening meal of dal bhat, or cooked lentils served with rice. She paused for a few moments, trying her best to hide the coughing that seemed to worsen with each passing week.
Glancing at his wife, Amir shrugged slightly, and turned to welcome his son and daughter-in-law.
“The cough just won’t go away,” he said, a small frown betraying the concern he’d tried to brush off just moments before.
“Father, that’s not good at all. I think she needs to go to the hospital,” Bibek said.
“I don’t know, Son. I think we need more help from the jhakri.” Amir sounded like he was trying to convince himself.
“The witch doctor never helps. You’ve done everything he told you to do and followed all the rituals, but Mother keeps losing weight and is coughing more than when we were here last time,” Bibek looked at his father and then at his mother, who was coughing again.
“It’s OK, Bibek,” Dhriti spoke softly after clearing her throat. “We’re going to see the jhakri one more time. I’m sure he can help. But let’s eat now and enjoy this time together.”
Several years before, Bibek and Alina had heard the story of creation, the fall, the plan of salvation, and the sacrifice. It touched their hearts, and they accepted Jesus as their Savior. Over time, they shared their testimony with Bibek’s parents, but Amir and Dhriti couldn’t bring themselves to part ways with their forefathers’ Kirat religion. Several times, Bibek had visited his parents accompanied by a Gospel Outreach Bible worker.
“The God in heaven who created everything loves both of you,” Bibek told his parents. “Won’t you leave your religion and worship the true God?”
Bibek’s pleas only created friction and distance with his parents, so he and Alina softened their approach, but they continued to pray for Amir and Dhriti.
Now, as Dhriti’s health continued to deteriorate, the parents finally had to move in with Bibek and Alina. Church members came to visit and pray for Dhriti, and her condition seemed to improve for a while. When Amir saw this, he decided to let Dhriti go to church with his son and daughter-in-law, but he stayed at home, refusing to go. Then Dhriti’s cough began to worsen again, and Bibek took her to the hospital.
BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS
“I’m sorry to have bad news for you and your family,” the doctor told Dhriti. “Your cough is because of lung cancer. It’s quite advanced. You may have only weeks left,” the doctor said.
Sadly, the doctor’s prognosis proved to be true. Dhriti died shortly thereafter, but she died trusting in Jesus.
Amir was devastated. He couldn’t sleep and refused to eat. Church members prayed for him, and the Bible worker came to talk with Amir. Despite the encouragement and support, Amir’s health began to fail as well. He became so weak that Bibek took him to the hospital for treatment. The Bible worker and church members continued to visit Amir while he was in the hospital.
“The gift of God is a resurrection day and eternal life. You can be reunited with your wife when Jesus comes back to earth,” the Bible worker told Amir, who began to listen with interest.
One day, Amir made the decision to leave behind the religion of his forefathers, and he accepted Christ as his Savior and was baptized. Now he faithfully attends church. Bibek and Alina have seen a dramatic change in Amir. He’s happy now and looking forward to the Second Coming. At 70 years old, he’s once again in good health.
“Because of God, I’m fine and doing well,” he says.
*Names have been changed.