A loud rattling sound startled me awake in the middle of the night. My eyes popped open and I realized, just before the few dim lightbulbs flickered off, that it was the tin walls around me vibrating from the power of an earthquake. As soon as I recognized it, it was over. It was a minor earthquake that probably only lasted four seconds, but it left me lying in bed thinking about our friends sleeping on the floor beside us who had already experienced quakes up to 400 times as strong that lasted for up to half a minute.
The next morning I woke up early and decided to say farewell to Swrakthok by doing some exploring and observing. As I stepped over wooden beams and climbed over mounds of broken bricks my heart became even more connected to the hearts of the people whose lives were lived within the walls that now lay at my feet, the people for whom I’ve wept countless tears. A small old man with a traditional Nepali hat stood and watched me. “Where is your home?” I asked in broken Nepali. He pointed off in the distance and gestured for me to follow him through corn fields and up a rocky path to the rubble that embodied only the shadow of a house.
He passed me onto a wrinkly faced elderly lady who led me hand in hand to her home, and one by one they passed me onto the next smiling villager who wanted to show me a glimpse of their lives, their pain, their experience. A boy about my age named Sagar told me that his father and his three year old niece took their last breaths buried beneath his home. I tried to understand how I would feel in his place, but couldn’t wrap my mind around the fear and despair he must feel. I’m sure that every dusty rock serves as a tombstone, reminding him of what he lost two months ago. By the time I got back for breakfast I had met the majority of the broken but beautiful villagers and felt like I had been grafted into their community.
Yet when I think back on our time in the village of Swrakthok, these memories aren’t the first to come to my mind. First I see a crowd of men, women, and children whose religion consists of bowing down to lifeless idols surrounding me with grand smiles as I attempt to express to them how much Jesus loves them. I hear a bold man in a yellow shirt be the first to open his mouth to declare Jesus as Lord. I see a young girl being set free from the oppression of demonic powers lifting her hands, shouting, and dancing before The Lord. I sense the hope of Jesus following each bag of rice into the dwelling places of 70 families. I see people healed, children dancing, and light overpowering darkness. When I think of Swrakthok I feel the deep and compassionate love of Jesus.
Months ago I knew that God would fulfill Isaiah 61:1-4 through us in Nepal and in this little village, that we had to hike a couple hours up a mountain to reach, I saw it happen verse by verse.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
When we left the village was still in need but it was filled with fresh hope. Victory was released in the Spirit that I believe will lead to its reconstruction. I saw and felt brokenness there, but I also was filled with immense joy. I didn’t understand why this was at first, but now I know: Jesus was sitting with those villagers in the rubble before we even got there. His light shines brighter in darkness, and His love is closer in brokenness.