Disowned Nepali Teen Wins Souls Through Volleyball
Man Bahadur Rai grew tired of living in fear of the spirits that supposedly inhabited his home.
At the beginning of a Bible school that I taught in Nepal, I asked the students to introduce themselves and to share their backgrounds.
Man Bahadur Rai told a story that I will never forget.
An only son, Man grew up in a rural village near Nepal’s border with China. He and his family believed that six spirits inhabited their home, and their lives were dominated by efforts to appease those spirits.
Six clay pots were placed around the home for the spirits to live in. Whenever Mother cooked a meal, she placed food into each pot for the spirits to eat. She feared that if even one spirit were forgotten, the whole family would suffer indigestion — or worse.
The parents wielded great influence in the village as the local spiritual leaders, and they hated Christianity, the belief in an unseen God. They preferred their visible gods of metal and wood.
One evening, 18-year-old Man was walking home after a long day of work and heard a male voice speaking over a loudspeaker about a virgin who had a child.
Man curiously wondered who was making such an illogical and impossible statement inside the nearby building with the loudspeaker. He entered and saw a man reading from a black book. Man waited for the meeting to end so he could dispute the man’s notions.
When the man finished speaking, Man mounted a fierce argument over what he had heard. The man, a visiting Seventh-day Adventist pastor, simply smiled and invited the teen to attend meetings every evening that week.
By the end of the week, Man was so convinced that he was right in his family’s faith that he decided to prove the Bible wrong. He obtained a Bible and began to read. The more he read, however, the more he felt convicted that Jesus is the living God. He also was tired of living in constant fear of the spirits that supposedly inhabited his home. He gave his heart to Jesus.
Father was furious when his son announced that he had become a Christian. He badly beat the teen and chased him out of the village.
Mother wept all night. She didn’t want to lose her only son, and she worried about his survival. But she didn’t dare challenge her husband. In the morning, she chose a small lamb from the family’s flock and asked a friend to find her son and give it to him.
Man was glad to have the lamb, and he wondered what to do with it. Should he raise it? Should he sell it? After praying, he felt impressed to sell the lamb and buy a volleyball net and ball. The impression was so strong that no other thoughts entered his mind about what to do with the lamb. All was clear.
Man sold the lamb and purchased a volleyball net and ball.
Finding a piece of unused land situated between five villages, Man cleared the ground and set up his volleyball net. He started playing alone.
Soon several young people passed by and stopped at the sight of the new volleyball court. Volleyball is a popular sport in Nepal, but the young people didn’t have the money to buy the equipment. Seeing Man playing, they wanted to join him.
“Sure, you can play,” Man said. “But to play one game, you have to memorize one Bible verse.”
The young people eagerly memorized a Bible verse and played a match. As they played, other young people stopped and memorized verses so they could join in. At the end of the game, the young people pleaded to play again.
“OK,” Man said. “But first you have to learn a song about my God.”
The young people readily agreed to learn a song.
Before long, a number of young people had memorized whole chapters from the Bible and knew many Christian songs by heart.
Then Man heard that I would conduct a Bible school to train Bible workers to share the gospel. He signed up, and that’s how he ended up in my classroom.
As Man finished telling his story, he introduced three young men sitting beside him.
“This is the result of my volleyball evangelism,” he said. “These men have accepted Jesus and want to become Bible workers, too.”
Today, Man is a 38-year-old Gospel Outreach volunteer who goes from village to village, singing Christian songs and teaching people how to live healthfully. He easily wins friends with a friendly smile and a joking attitude. When people accept him, he turns to serious matters and slowly opens Bible truths.
Man, who has been disowned by his family, is no theologian. He is a frontline worker winning souls for the Lord. He also is building a new family that will live forever in God’s kingdom.
Wilson Measapogu is executive secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Southern Asia Division, which includes Bhutan, India, Nepal, and the Maldives Islands. Ninety-eight percent of the 1.3 billion people living in this region are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Nepal has only 5,630 Adventists, while 1.7 million Adventists live across the division’s territory.