Nirmala’s life had become one of tears. It seemed she did nothing but cry.
The young woman had returned to the home of her parents after a disastrous six-month marriage, one she had eloped into, against the wishes of her family and everyone who knew her.
Nirmala had fallen in love with a boy who drank and smoked and did many other things she didn’t like. Optimistic, she thought she would be able to change him after they were married.
“It didn’t work,” she recalls. And yet, despite all his faults and destructive habits, she still, desperately, loved him.
Now, confronted with her disgrace and failure, she felt that no one understood the deepest feelings of her heart.
“I never used to share with anyone. But I expected that somebody should know, even if I didn’t say anything to them.”
One night, around 11 p.m., as she sat weeping in the rain outside her parents’ home, she remembered her sister talking about Jesus.
As a daughter with seven other siblings, Nirmala had grown up caring for her younger brothers and sisters. One of her sisters had been very ill and in great pain, but none of the treatments she was given had worked.
When a neighbor urged the family to take the girl to a nearby church for healing prayer, they agreed, considering it to be their last viable option. The girl fully and miraculously recovered, and began attending church regularly. She soon gave her life to Jesus and talked about Him to her family.
Her parents were unhappy with her new spiritual path, which contradicted the religious views of the family and community. They were even more unhappy when she began bringing other family members to the church.
Taking the side of her parents, Nirmala had been angry as well.
“I used to beat or kick them, and kick them out of our home. I burned their Bible also,” she recalls.
When her sisters brought their pastor to visit, Nirmala scolded him, too.
But now, broken and alone, Nirmala cried out to Jesus.
“Then I called, ‘Jesus, if really you are my savior, if really you are my creator, please help me and show me the way, which way I have to go. Because people are saying you are the wrong way.”
God answered by reminding her of a story in which two men were clinging to a mountain, about to fall to their deaths. One called out to several gods and goddesses, but none of them answered, and he died. The other called out to Jesus, who rescued him. Nirmala recalls sensing that Jesus was telling her He is her savior.
“I feel like I got peace in my heart. What I was expecting from my husband, I found that love in Jesus Christ.”
Filled with a new joy and purpose, Nirmala carried evangelistic tracts and Bibles with her to the tailoring business where she worked; if anyone shared a problem with her, she told them about Jesus and gave the items to those who were interested in learning more.
Four months later, her husband showed up, asking her to return to him.
“It’s OK that you came back,” she told him, “but now I am a Christian. What do you say?”
He replied that they could not remain married if she was a Christian. He gave her an ultimatum: choose him, or Jesus.
“I said, ‘I want both.’ He said, ‘It’s not possible.’”
Nirmala realized that her husband had left her once; he might leave her again. But she knew without a doubt that Jesus would never leave her.
“So that’s why I don’t want to lose [Jesus],” she recalls. She told her husband, “I choose Jesus Christ.”
Her husband left again, but Nirmala held out hope that Jesus might change his heart, too, and bring them back together once and for all.
While she waited, she focused her life on discerning God’s purpose for her and growing closer to Him. She prayed for direction, and believes God gave her the verse, Isaiah 49:6, in which it says, “I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Nirmala took a year of training from Operation Mobilization (OM), a Christian mission agency. Her passion for serving God only deepened. OM sent her out to other areas of Nepal where she visited villages and shared the gospel with many.
Around that time, her husband remarried. Although she was heartbroken, and asked God why He had not brought her husband back, she read 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which urges all believers to praise God no matter their circumstances. So she made that choice and continued moving forward.
Nirmala studied theology at South India Biblical Seminary, which has a partnership with South Asia Nazarene Bible College, and afterward she went on to teach theology.
Yet, she had a growing sense of calling to missions, and often remembered Isaiah 49:6.
When she returned to Nepal from India, she spoke about her call with Rev. Dilli, the Nepal District superintendent. He told her that the Church of the Nazarene Eurasia Region was planning a cross-cultural volunteer training in Kathmandu in May 2017. Called M+Power, the regional program is designed to identify Nazarenes across the region who have sensed a calling to cross-cultural service, train them for ministry and deploy them to mission. Nirmala attended the training, which confirmed her calling.
Today, she has served as a cross-cultural volunteer in the western part of Nepal for the past year, and plans to continue for a second year. She has been leading a child development center, established by Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, and also leads a literacy program that helps children, youth and elderly people learn English. Every day, she teaches an English class to housewives in the community.
After her second year, Nirmala may be able to serve cross-culturally outside of Nepal.
To learn more about M+Power, visit www.eurasiaregion.org/volunteers
Written by Gina Pottenger and previously published in the September 2018 edition of Where Worlds Meet edition.