by Stan Leach, EFC Southwest Superintendent
Almost twenty years ago, I was invited to accompany a medical mission team to southern Nepal. I wasn’t sure why they wanted me to go, until we arrived in Katmandu – these doctors needed someone to carry their stuff.
Sisautiya, the area we served, is different than the typical Himalayan postcards you see. The majesty of Mt. Everest and K2 is far away. Just miles from the Indian border, the land is flat and the weather hot. Our team would work morning to late afternoon putting on a health clinic in the Name of Jesus. It was amazing, but exhausting.
One afternoon, to wind down, the missionary and I took a walk through the dusty village. In the distance, I saw a crowd gathering. Children were playing – running, roughhousing, laughing. Men were building little booths, made of palm fronds. Oddly, I didn’t see any women. At first.
As we walked, the crowd thinned, I saw the women. They were standing waist high in a languid, winding river. I had never seen such a more curious thing. I asked the missionary to explain. He told me that it was the River Festival. These women had waded into the water, every one with a particular need. Then, each picked one (of 10,000) specific Hindu god and, standing in the water while chanting a prayer, they strove to attract the god’s attention. With this act of penance, they hoped to appease the god and receive a favor in the form of a granted wish.
My appreciation for the gospel deepened in that moment. The truth of the gospel – Jesus abandoning heaven, for earth living the most righteous life, suffering death on the cross to pay for our sin, resurrecting after three days, ascending to heaven, sending the Holy Spirit, and coming again as reigning King – is amazing in its kindness and it transforming power. We enjoy deep connections to Christ, not because we have appeased God, but rather because He Himself made a way for us to receive forgiveness of sins and live in the power of the resurrection.
This is my second to last edition of the “Kitchen Table.” For 32 years, you – the people of Evangelical Friends Church Southwest – have partnered to live out and share this reality. Many of you have made it possible for me to give my life to this cause. Words cannot express the profound gratitude Sandi and I have for each of you.
But there is a more compelling reality. While we share many wonderful stories and experiences together, they are not concluded. In fact, I am convinced that there are better ones, more powerful ones, to come.
I can’t wait.