We are on Delta 179 at 37,000 feet over North America and bound for home. In mathematics, the Greek symbol for delta is used to denote change, especially as it occurs over time. It is a symbol for transformation, something that we witnessed in southeast Nepal.
We had never heard of Rev Chandra Sharma. Nor had we ever heard of Anju Panta. Now we cannot forget them. Chandra is a former Brahman priest who is now a pastor and an itinerant evangelist. He is responsible for bringing many, many Hindus to faith in Jesus. Anju Panta is a celebrity in Nepal; an amazing singer with a testimony of her own. Both were part of an outreach event in Southeast Nepal on Sunday.
The bamboo “band shell” was set up in a field on the east end of the town. Draped in blue, red and saffron, it shaded us from the heat of the sun. A few hundred meters away stood the town’s Hindu temple. Dragonflies were flitting about in every direction. It was a holiday weekend, so people were out and about, enjoying the weather and one another. News of dance, music and an American speaker traveled quickly. My guess is that the whole town came out to stand in the hot sun and take it all in.
After the opening ceremony, where Grant and I received our badges, honor scarves and Nepali hats, the festivities began. The worship team cranked it up (gritty guitar and Nepali worship songs – interesting combo). Like many other majority world events I have attended, the music was as loud as they could possibly make it; to the point of feedback and distortion. It was loose; occasionally interrupted by equipment failures or simply a change of mind on the worship leader’s part. That made it even fun – unscripted, unrehearsed, and unrestrained. Most in the crowd were Hindus who enthusiastically joined in with the worship. One man leapt around to the music with exaggerated sweeps of his hands and face. There were special songs, dance songs, the Nepali anthem… and the speakers.
When Reverend Sharma spoke you could have heard a pin drop. They hung onto his every word. He spoke with authority, telling of how Jesus had revealed Himself to him and inviting them to come and find salvation in Jesus Christ. It was in Nepalese so Grant and I were fairly oblivious to most of what was said until it was described to us later. At one point he asked for people to respond to the gospel. Hundreds of people, nearly everyone I could see, joined in a prayer of salvation.
For freedom Christ has set us free… (Galatians 5:1)
Afterwards, Grant had the privilege of delivering a message from John 3:16. Little did he know at the time that he was speaking from the same verses as Rev Sharma. Our friend, Pastor Ajay, did the translating. It was a powerful message, made more so by its resonation with what Rev Sharma had just spoken. There was an interlude of more singers and dancers when there began to be an excited murmur in the crowd – and then cheering. Anju Pranta arrived and stepped up onto the stage.
Anju shared her own testimony – a painful life journey culminating in freedom in Christ. She sang popular Nepali songs inviting the crowd to sing with her. She continued until the sun was nearly down and the wind that picked up threatened to lift our stage. As sunset came, people were streaming out in ever direction; making their ways to their homes. Delta, eternally!