“Our family is going to church tomorrow. Normally, that wouldn’t sound like big news. But we’re returning to the building where, exactly one week ago, we experienced one of the most frightening events of our lives. Our kids are scared to go, honestly. But we feel that it is important to teach them that we have to face our fears and to learn to rely on God’s strength. So, tomorrow we will go worship the Lord with our Nepali brothers and sisters. We will stand with them in the place where our lives could have been destroyed, and we will lift our hands and sing praises with them. God is good, all the time.” -One of our team members
Most news articles you’ll read about the Nepal earthquake detail the extent of the damage, the leveling of cities and villages, and the relief efforts that can’t seem to reach needy areas quickly enough.
Some news articles underscore the resilience of the Nepali people: the children who play on the heaps of rubble, the women who have resumed selling fruits and vegetables, the men who ceaselessly clear the debris in search for their buried countrymen.
Few news articles discuss those who live there not by birthright but by choice.
And rightly so.
But what about these people—people who pre-decided to live and die with a people not their own, even before the earthquake?
“We knew before moving to Nepal that this could be a possibility, with Nepal resting on 3 fault lines and being overdue for a very large earthquake, and it was a risk we accepted.” —another team member
Such declarations pre-trauma are valiant at best, reckless at worst. But now, their veracity speaks for itself.
A common humanity, an international treaty, a mission statement of a humanitarian aid organization will drive people to put their lives on the line and help those in need. Not just once, but again and again.
But sheer altruism and legal agreements are not enough motivate people to come, stay, live, and die in obscurity with a people even in the aftermath of a disaster. When people remain in a place long after a natural disaster, a political upheaval, or other form of devastation, what is it that keeps them there?
This determination must come from a realm other than the natural.
And that’s the definition of supernatural: some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.
Beyond the physical realm.
The divine intersection of God’s plans with ours, when understood, does not move us to temporary compassion but to long-term sacrifice.
“For the last few days, we have been in survival mode: grabbing what we can from our home, moving to an open space where we can escape the danger of collapsing buildings and power lines, sleeping in our tent and spending the days searching for food and clean water. And yet we have been more fortunate than so many others.”
The supernatural does not move people to recklessness; it imparts courage.
It doesn’t cause people to see physical circumstances as mere shadows of true reality. If anything, it invests the physical world with more meaning. Courage makes people present. Courage interacts and engages, knowing that the reward of bold living outweighs its risks.
“Started putting some things back on shelves this afternoon since the tremors seem to be few and far between today. As I was changing out broken picture frames and sweeping up remaining bits of glass, my heart was broken, but thankful. Broken for those that have nothing left to pick up, for those with family members that are missing or dead. Broken by reports of completely destroyed villages and communities. But in the midst of brokenness, I am thankful that God has allowed my family and me to live another day in this country. It so desperately needs to know the hope and peace of a Heavenly Father.”
Statements like that come from hearts which know that living in God’s will doesn’t create a safety bubble around you that keeps you impervious to all harm. You’re not guaranteed to live longer or stronger or safer. World history—with its natural disasters and genocides and revolutions that have claimed the lives of the best and worst of humankind—will blast that theory.
Statements like that, pouring thankfulness in the midst of a situation where living through the next day is not guaranteed, don’t show a careless attitude toward life but an accurate appraisal of life’s value.
Statements like that come from people who believe that life on earth is not all the life there is. Life is really the shortest prelude ever written to a symphony without end.
Instead of being brazenly foolish, it’s a viewpoint that’s divinely inspired.
Living in this net of safety, knowing that earthly life may end too soon but that the soul never will—that’s the safest place to be in the most dangerous of places.
There’s more to life than this life. The prayer request of another team member says it well: “Most important of all, pray for a move of God here, in a place where gods built by human hands lay crushed at the Nepalis’ feet, where empty spaces are now where buildings once stood, and where torn prayer flags silently whip in the aftermath of disaster. When other gods do not answer, Heavenly Father, visit ripped and torn souls! Bring Your Holy Spirit in a supernatural way and may Your presence be wrapped around their hearts. Let them find you in their greatest hour of need.”
What if the ground continues to shake in Nepal? Many team members will probably stay. They don’t have a death wish; they have a life calling. The work of the cross cannot be undone.
“There was a strong wind that moved in last night and even in our house. My girls started to look fearful, and we camped in the living room again. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for the families sleeping under tarps right now!”
If you’re wondering, What if they die? Know that they’ve already died. They died to self the moment they accepted God’s call on their lives, years before their feet touched down on foreign soil.
This is not recklessness; this is courage. A courage that knows that risks are real but knows there is more to life than this life.
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A Christian school re-opened its doors today in Kathmandu. Teachers, students and parents sat under tarps. One of our team members reports: So many emotions as friends were reunited and lingering tenseness remained. Many of these students and their families have been sleeping outside as aftershocks continue. Though each one’s journey is different, no one present was exempt from living through this trauma. Yet together they sang this song, “Faithful One”:
Faithful One, so unchanging / Ageless one, you’re my rock of peace /
Lord of all I depend on you / I call out to you again and again /
You are my rock in times of trouble / You life me up when I fall down /
All through the storm/Your love is the anchor /
My hope is in You alone.
Recklessness doesn’t sing out dependence on God. But courage does.
And as the voices of our team members mix with the voices of the Nepalis in song, may we thank God for courageous people who recognize their lives are not their own.