This story came to us before the Nepal earthquakes. The church in Nepal has been making a difference in the lives of people and communities long before an earthquake shook the country on April 25 – and again on May 12. The work the church is doing now to care for children, families, and communities is simply an overflow of the way they have already been caring for children, families, and communities for many years. And it’s a reflection of the way they will continue to care for children, families, and communities for many years to come.
“It is the love of Christ that drew me to Him, and now a peace rules in me,” says 15-year-old Rijul*, smiling.
Rijul has been connected with the Nazarene church since he was 9 years old, when a friend from school invited him to attend. It was good timing; Rijul’s family was struggling.
Rijul was born in southern Nepal, and came to Tikathali, a village near a larger city, when he was 9 years old. Rijul’s parents worked at a carpet factory there for two years. The income they earned at the factory was extremely low, so even though the family worked hard, they continue to live in poverty and struggled to provide for the needs of the family.
The family was forced to live within the walls of the factory’s compound, and there were no educational opportunities for the workers’ children. The hopes and dreams of Rijul started to die when he had to drop out of school and join his parents working to weave carpets. The small compound would be their new world, a place where they would never be able to develop their potential.
Thankfully, after two years, Rijul and his family moved to the city, but Rijul’s father left to work in Malaysia, as many poor Nepalese young adults do, to find a higher-paying job. Rijul hoped this might provide enough for him to pursue his dreams of getting an education.
After his friend invited him to a church service, Rijul also enrolled in the church-based child development center (CDC), where he could get an education. Things seemed to be moving ahead for Rijul, but his hopes were dashed again when his mother left their family for another man. As the eldest son among three children, Rijul was expected to manage the household and care for his siblings in the absence of parents, but as a child he had no idea how to do that. The church and his neighbors took care of the children until their father returned from Malaysia.
Rijul’s hopes continued to fall when his father took the children to live with their grandfather in another village and then left again to go back to work in Malaysia.
In the new village, Rijul was discouraged because he had no way to attend church or the CDC. After a few months, he got permission to return to Tikathali. Rijul wanted to make his faith stronger in the church that he loved.
“Here I feel like I’m in a family where I can stay in peace,” he says.
Rijul’s church truly did become his family, and he lived with his pastor. He even formed a group of young teens so they could encourage each other through studying the Bible, praying, and practicing worship songs (Rijul plays the conga drum).
Rijul’s pastor says, “He came through a painful situation, and the love of Christ reflected by the church through the CDC and other ministries can restore his hope, peace, and potential.”
Rijul has been able to pursue his dream of gaining an education – a step away from a cycle of poverty and child labor. And through his newfound faith, he has found true freedom.
As the people of Nepal begin to piece their lives back together, may they also find freedom, hope, and the courage to dream again.
*Children’s names are changed for their protection.
To learn more about or to support the church’s disaster response in Nepal: ncm.org/nepal