A little over a month ago, I was leading my first supporter trip to Nepal. Since arriving home, it’s been good to recall the ten days or so that I was there.
As I reflect on the trip, my thoughts are framed by something said by one of the participants as she considered her own experience during those ten or so days. Her hope was to see God at work in Nepal. And, at the end of the trip, after visiting about six villages and even more community groups, she was able to say that God had answered her prayers – He is certainly at work in Nepal!
But how did this affect my own reflections? For me it comes down to one little word: “Jaymashi”.
“Jaymashi” means “Praise the Lord”. It’s the Christian blessing of choice (rather than the normal “Nameste” greeting) and it is the core of two special memories from my recent trip to Nepal.
At the end of a visit in the last community on our schedule, I heard it from one of the older women we’d been meeting with. I was standing on the fringe of a bustling crowd that had gathered when she came up to me with a smile and uttered, “Jaymashi”.
Of course, by this stage in our trip I knew what the word meant. And that made it a particularly special moment to me, because she had made a point of making her way through the throng to make contact. Even though her greeting was the extent of our conversation (my knowledge of Nepali is limited at best!) it communicated volumes to me of the salt and light in her community.
Then, there was the young abandoned mother of three living with a disability. I met her in a community we visited earlier that same day. At the end of a lengthy conversation with our group, during which, she was nursing her infant son, I watched as her face transformed when she spoke the word “Jaymashi” to us. The moment forged a special connection between her and the women I was travelling with, each of whom spontaneously embraced her, one-by-one as we left.
It was one of the most moving things I had ever witnessed.
This last instance forcibly reminded me of when Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. This young mother, though certainly poor according to the world’s standards, is blessed. I was also reminded of what Paul said to the Corinthians: “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, and God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are”.
Here, in rural Nepal, God was at work. Building His kingdom in ways that I could not comprehend. It put flesh on the words spoken to me by the Director of one of our Christian partners in the field who said that, invariably, after they begin their work in an area, churches end up being planted by the community in the years that follow.
So… when Baptist World Aid funds development work, it seems to me that something incredibly powerful happens when people who come into a community offer unconditional grace, in the form tangible and lasting change for a family. Perhaps this shows grace in all its unadorned power – help offered for those in need without conditions.
I’m sure this is what has attracted many who live in these communities who are now greeting one another with, “Jaymashi”.