The darkness seemed to take hold of Yashodha’s family in Nepal when she was six years old. That’s when they moved into a large Hindu temple that her father had been hired to maintain and clean in a nearby city.
In their strange new home, Yashodha and her younger brother, Paras, often stood in worship before the temple idols for hours at a time. “When we were in the temple, we used to wake up at 3am,” she recalled. “If we didn’t wake up then, the priest would come to us and pour cold water on us. That was quite difficult for us.”
Two years after moving into the temple, Yashodha’s father began having seizure-like episodes, shaking so violently that he sometimes knocked things over. Eventually, Yashodha began to experience similar convulsions, and Paras struggled with illnesses too. Their health problems continued after leaving the temple and moving back to their village, causing some villagers to openly wonder if the family had been cursed.
The villagers’ theory gained support when Yashodha’s father broke several bones in a fall from a tree while cutting firewood. Villagers were afraid to help him, fearing they could become cursed as well. “Everybody in my family was just crying,” Yashodha said. “Nobody came there to help my family.”
However when Yashodha was 10, she received a life-changing gift from a stranger.
Hope and Healing
While Yashodha was outside her school one day, a young woman staying in a nearby guest house walked over and started talking to her. The woman, who was a foreign missionary, told her about Jesus Christ.
“She shared that Jesus is real and He is a very good God,” Yashodha said. “Once she said that to me, I thought it was a good time to share my problems with her.”
After learning about the troubles Yashodha and her family had suffered, the woman comforted Yashodha and offered her a Bible in the Nepali language. Wanting to improve her English, Yashodha asked her for an English Bible, which the missionary gladly gave her.
While Bibles are legal in Nepal, many people cannot afford them, and distribution is difficult in Nepal’s remote, mountainous areas. Yashodha treasured her new Bible.
She took the Bible home and secretly read it at night. The words of Christ, printed in red ink, were especially appealing to her. After reading Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself”, she placed her faith in Christ.
“When I saw the condition of my father, I had no idea how we could solve his problems,” she said. “When I read these verses, I realised only God solves our problems. Only He is our strength.”
Yashodha read her Bible every day, and two months later she asked the missionary if she could go to church with her.
The next Saturday, the day on which Nepali Christians typically worship, the missionary and a Nepali friend took Yashodha to a church service far from her village.
When the pastor asked for prayer requests at the end of the service, Yashodha hesitated. But a Nepali woman in the congregation who knew about her father’s health problems requested prayer for him and Yashodha’s family. “When she shared about my family,” Yashodha said, “then I started to cry. Everybody came and encouraged me.”
Eventually, Yashodha began telling her family what she was learning at church about God and the Bible. One morning a couple of months later, her family decided to join her at church. “Everybody prayed for our family,” she said.
Shortly after attending the service, Yashodha’s father sought medical care instead of relying on Hindu priests. He was hospitalised for several weeks, and the mounting medical bills became a great concern.
“We were worried about our future, and our family’s circumstances were very difficult,” Yashodha said, “but when we read [the Bible] we were not worried. That was the life-changing Word from the Lord for our life at that time.”
As the family continued reading God’s Word, Yashodha’s brother, Paras, desperately sought healing from his own chronic illness. One night he prayed every two hours that God would heal him, and the next day he experienced peace and healing. “From that day,” said Paras, now 16, “I have believed in the name of Jesus.”
By the time Yashodha and Paras’s father returned home from weeks of medical care, all four family members had come to faith in Christ. They became the first Christian family in their Hindu village.
As word spread that Yashodha’s family had become Christians, villagers mocked them, calling them “cow-eaters” and accusing them of accepting money from foreign missionaries to convert. Then village leaders banned them from using the community water source.
Yashodha’s uncle was very unhappy about the family’s new Christian faith. So through personal connections with the police, he had them locked up for becoming Christians. As villagers heard what he had done, a crowd gathered outside the police station to see what would happen. “We were a little bit afraid when we saw the crowd,” Yashodha said. “The four of us sat together and prayed.”
Once police interviewed the family, however, they decided the family had done nothing wrong and released them.
As Yashodha’s family faced increasing pressure from the community, they rented a room in another city for a few months. Free of the daily harassment from neighbours, they studied God’s Word together and grew in faith. They even began sharing their faith with others, leading more than 20 people to Christ.
After returning to their village, the family also returned to weekly church attendance. Through regular Bible study, Yashodha, now 17, said she has learned to focus on what’s eternal rather than the here and now.
“Our health is so temporary,” she said. “Many hardships will come in our life, but they won’t matter. What matters is: ‘Are we seeking Christ’s face?’”
Paras said there is no more darkness surrounding his family. “Before, when we were in the dark, we were on the wide road,” he said. “Now we are on the narrow road. It can be difficult to walk, but it leads directly to heaven. So much persecution comes in our life, but we won’t just take it easy.”