Mission Story

Published: July 1, 2019

 

Rupamaya

Rupamaya

Touched by Jesus

Mission Post

  • Nepal closed its borders for many years, and Seventh-day Adventists were not allowed to enter. However, Nepalese who traveled outside of the country heard the church’s message and returned home to share it with their friends and families.
  • In 1936, Kenneth Simpson and two Adventist medical missionaries visited several villages of Nepal along the border and preached to them in Hindi. It was the first time many of them had ever heard about Jesus and the Bible.
  • In 1951, Nepal began opening its borders to foreigners and tourists. While handing out Voice of Prophecy Bible-study cards on the border, pastor George Vandeman was told, “You’re too late. I’m already on Lesson 30.” The person proved to be one of many people who had been studying the Adventist message in this way.
  • Dr. Stanley Gordon and Mrs. Raylene Sturges founded Scheer Memorial Hospital in June 1957. Named after the Scheers, a New Jersey couple who donated money for the institution, the hospital opened in Banepa, an hour east of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, on May 18, 1960. It is now has 150 beds.

By Andrew McChesney

Life was ugly for Rupamaya. Just when she thought it couldn’t get uglier, it did.

Rupamaya was born into a low-caste family of “untouchables” in Nepal. The stain of her heredity meant that she would be deemed as impure for her whole life and that she would die the death of the impure. Any children whom she bore would also be impure. Nothing could remove the stigma of untouchability attached to her, and she always would be considered less than human.

As an untouchable, Rupamaya could not go to school, and she never learned to read or write.

She got married at the age of 14. In Nepal, child marriage was and is common.

Life did not improve after marriage. Rupamaya’s husband did not own any land, and the two worked in other people’s fields to survive. Rupamaya gave birth to seven children. She couldn’t provide for them. So, when each grew old enough, she sent the child off to work and live in the homes of relatives and other people.

Then her 2-year-old son died with a high fever.

After that, two of her sons disappeared when she sent them to visit their older sister in another city. The sister was working in a hotel, and she had written home to say that she had saved up some money for the family. Rupamaya asked the two boys, who were 11 and 13 years old, to collect the money. The boys met their sister and waved good-bye from the bus as they headed back home. But they never arrived home. Someone said the bus had been in an accident. Rupamaya searched for her sons but was unable to find them.

Then tragedy struck again. Her husband didn’t feel well, but the family didn’t have any money for a physician. Then he died.

Being an untouchable had been difficult. Being a widow who was an untouchable was even worse. Even other untouchables looked down on her.

As years passed, Rupamaya became very sad. Finally, she stopped working. Because she didn’t work, she didn’t have any food. She didn’t want to eat anyway. Instead, she lay in bed, thinking about her husband and their three lost children. She regretted her life. She contemplated suicide.

“Why did my mother give birth to me?” she wondered. “Why did all these things happen to me?”

It was then that a stranger showed up at her house. Tirtha worked as a volunteer for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and she had heard about Rupamaya from the neighbors. She brought food and medicine to the woman. She prayed for her.

“Why don’t you come to my church?” she said. “We will pray for you.”

Tirtha began to visit regularly. Rupamaya looked forward to the visits. She liked the food, medicine, and prayers. Hope was kindled in her heart for the first time in years. She began going to the Adventist church.

Eight years later, Rupamaya is a faithful Seventh-day Adventist. She is 65 years old and lives with one of her sons and his wife. Through her influence, the wife recently joined the Adventist church.

Rupamaya said she has lost everything but is happy because she has Jesus. She might be shunned as an untouchable by some, but she is happy because her heart has been touched by Jesus.

“My husband died, a son died, and two sons disappeared, and I don’t know what happened to them even 30 years later,” she said. “I have lost everything, but I have Jesus in my life. I have the great hope that one day, when Jesus comes, I will be able to see the loved ones whom I lost.”

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help establish a school where children can learn to read and write in Nepal. Thank you for planning a generous Thirteenth Sabbath Offering on March 30.