‘It was almost dark … and we were up the wrong Himalayan valley’
Naomi’s story | The longing to read John 1
“I’ve always loved the passage in Acts 8. There was Philip, on an ordinary day after the resurrection. An angel appeared to him and told him to go south, on the desert road to Gaza. Philip went, and along the way he met an Ethiopian, who just happened to be sitting in his chariot, reading Isaiah. But the Ethiopian didn’t understand it, and the Spirit told Philip to go to him, to explain it. Philip did and he had a wonderful opportunity to tell the man about Jesus. The man responded in faith.
For me, I need to keep being reminded that God is at work in the world, in a million tiny ways, and he longs for his people to know him. He longs for us to grow in our faith in him. He provides, he answers and he always puts his people where he wants them. Sometimes that might be us!
Back in 1994, my husband Darren and I were living in Nepal. We’d been there for six months and we were completely exhausted from our work and language learning. We decided we needed a break. So we went off trekking in the hills near our home in Pokhara, away from the tourist routes. It was beautiful. There were paddy fields ready for rice harvest, women in red saris and children playing. We kept walking all day. By about 4pm, we realised we’d accidentally gone into the wrong valley. We were nowhere near our destination of Mirsa and darkness was coming. There were no phones, back then. We kept walking. The next village we came to was called Burraburra, and the headman said we could sleep on his wooden balcony, above the buffalo. As soon as we settled down, two young lads came up from the village. They asked if they could practise their English with us. We said yes. As we chatted, it became clear they had something specific in mind. They had a pamphlet they wanted translated into Nepali.
At that stage, our language was still really poor. We were stumbling. But the week before, we’d decided to start memorising Scripture in Nepali and we’d chosen John 1. It’s a hard but wonderful chapter! So there we were, in the wrong village, in the wrong valley, and those two lads went off and got the pamphlet they wanted translated. They handed it to us. It was John 1 in English. They said, “Please tell us what it means,” in Nepali.
It was the only chapter of the Nepali Bible that we could read and talk about, back then. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …” (v 1). We talked with them slowly about Jesus. We stumbled a bit, but they’d found the only chapter we could even vaguely understand. It reminded me then, and ever since, that this is God’s work and his heart. We’d landed in the wrong village and valley, and God cared about these two lads, who longed to understand his word. Afterwards, we walked home and we never found out what happened to them. We never saw them again. But God knows and cares.
For me, collecting Faith Stories for Eternity over the last two years has been a bit like that. Every time I’ve listened to people, I’ve been stunned by the ways God is at work. He longs for each of us to know him, through the Lord Jesus, more and more. He engineers circumstances and people and events and even accidents and mistakes, such that we do. Sometimes he uses the stumbling, small efforts of the people nearby. Sometimes he uses the deep struggles or things that we would never choose. But in everything, God is at work. He is growing our faith in the Lord Jesus, often through trials. Let’s keep sharing our stories of faith!
I’ll be taking a break from collecting faith stories over the summer (hopefully not in the wrong valley!), but I’m looking forward to beginning work again on Series 3 early next year, 2022. See you then!”
Naomi’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series. Click here for more Faith Stories.