Karina is a young girl who grew up in a Hindu family. She obediently followed the rites and traditions of her parents. She knew about the god of her ancestors; She visited the temple every morning to worship the village gods; She participated in every holiday and festival to pay respect to Hindu leaders of the past. Hinduism was her life, as it should have been for every good Nepali girl. That was until Karina heard the Gospel.
You see, the Living Word of the One True God changed her life forever. She no longer saw reason for praying to her family god who could not hear her, but she delighted in having conversations with her Father and Friend who would answer prayers and speak to her heart through scriptures. She no longer enjoyed visiting the local Hindu temples that were always full of people, but yet felt so cold and empty. She did not desire to celebrate the festivals of a false religion that honored mere man, but her heart hungered for bringing glory to Jesus who saved her soul and set her free.
Karina’s family had mixed feelings about this newfound faith. As she shared with her father, mother and sister the decision she had made, they could see joy in her eyes. Yet, her parents felt it would be a passing phase. Her sister soon followed in Karina’s footsteps and also accepted Jesus as Lord. The two sisters were allowed to attend church as long as the family had no other plans for them. As much as they pleaded with their father and mother, the parents refused to have anything to do with this “new religious fad.” Though hurt by their words, Karina kept praying for the souls of her parents. She knew if God could change her heart, He could also change the heart of her father and mother.
Karina’s life had turned from meaningless to purposeful, and this was just the beginning of a lifelong journey she would spend with her Redeemer. She began sharing with others what the Lord had done in her life. She even began to see a slight change in her parent’s attitude and actions towards her. Could God really be working in their hearts? The day her father called her to his room for a family discussion, joy rose in her chest. Karina knew for sure this was the day her father and mother would accept the Lord. From this point on, things would never be the same. This was true. But, not for the reasons dear Karina expected.
Karina entered the room where her father sat next to her mother, and a young man she had never seen before sat across from them. She was asked to sit in an unoccupied chair and was introduced to this young man named Sanket. Her father explained that an arrangement had been made and Karina would be given to Sanket for marriage. The dowry, almost too much, explained her father, had been paid and Karina would be married in three months time. Karina’s heart dropped. This was not the news she had been hoping for. And to add to her burden she quickly learned Sanket was Hindu.
In Karina’s culture, her rights are limited. She belongs to her father until she is married. At that time, she then belongs to her husband. Her marriage is decided upon not by love, but by selection of her father, in which she has no say. As a good wife, she will be expected to serve her husband and bare him children. Very rarely will she have the freedom to make choices for herself, hold her own opinions, or express her own religion openly. Karina cannot disrespect her father’s authority or his choice for her life. The only thing she knew to do was run to her Christian friends and plead with them to pray for her.
Karina’s name has been changed for her protection, but her story is very true. Her prayer request was presented to me this past week and my heart broke for her. With the churches in Nepal (ours included) being made up of 75% women, unfortunately Karina’s story is not solely her own. Her request for prayer is the request of many women striving to follow the Lord. In marriages here, many wives heart’s have been converted, but their husbands refuse to change. Several young Christian girls are arranged by their families to be married to a Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim man.
Please pray for Karina specifically as she endures this unimaginable challenge. I ask that our Lord would comfort and sustain her. She needs patience and acceptance, as she loves when it’s difficult. She needs wisdom and trust in the Lord for the things that she does not understand. She needs strong friendships and a strong faith grounded in the Word of God. I pray that she has opportunities to worship and witness. I pray that despite struggles that her faith continues to grow. I pray that our Father would show her love like He never has before and cover her with His Spirit. Karina, my heart breaks for you.