Changing Sorrow into Joy
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 had habits and character traits that she actually 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. But he had left her.
Now, confronted with her disgrace and failure, she felt that no one understood the deepest feelings of her heart. 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 contracted the religious views of the family and community. They were even more unhappy when she invited other family members to the church. Taking the side of her parents, Nirmala had been angry as well. 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.” 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.
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. 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 then 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 various areas of Nepal where she visited villages and shared the gospel with many.
Nirmala also began studies in theology at South India Biblical Seminary, which has a partnership with South Asia Nazarene Bible College. Yet, she had a growing sense of calling to be a missionary, and often remembered God’s direction for her in 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. In she is looking forward to that.
Nirmala with her class at a DC in Nepal
Nirmala with her women English class