Thursday, February 18, 2016

Facing the Persecution

This man has eaten at my table.

He ate food I helped prepare.

I filled his cup with drink.

I never realized what a hero of faith was sitting at my table that evening.

Sometimes you never know who God brings in your path... how powerfully He will use them. When a friend of ours, Pastor Bijay Pradhan, asked me to help him with a blog post he had written in English, that's when I became fully aware of the hero I had met.

Please allow me to introduce you to this man.

Chandan Mandal: A Man of Faith

 Chandan, second from the left

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1

“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Psalm 9:10

The Hall of Faith. That’s what they call Hebrews 11. It’s a list of many of those who knew what real faith is and demonstrated it in their lives, often at great cost. We read about them, but it is difficult to imagine meeting or seeing such faith lived out so vividly firsthand.

In Hebrews 11:1, we learn that faith is not something that we see, but “the substance of things [which we] hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” When we continue reading this chapter, we learn about many godly people who were examples of strong faith. What kept their faith alive was that they walked with the LORD continuously, even while facing intense, dreadful persecution and pain.

It is rare to find someone of such great faith these days, but it is not impossible.

When people are blessed to meet such a person of faith, it grips their hearts and changes their lives forever. His story should be told. That is why I am sharing this with you. I have met such a man.

He isn’t famous. He isn’t well-known. In all likelihood, most people have never heard his name. He is Chandan Mandal. Chandan lives in the remote eastern part of Nepal. He was saved in May 2009, and baptized a month later. Since he was saved, he has been a faithful and fruitful Christian for the Lord. After returning from a foreign based job in 2011, he decided to stay at his village and share about Jesus Christ with his family, friends, and villagers. That’s when the intense physical, emotional, and spiritual persecution began.

One day he told me that he was called to a discussion in the village with those who are against Christians. I asked him if he was going alone. His answer surprised me and pricked my heart. In reply he said, "No! God is with me." Oh, what a faith! At that time he was the only Christian in his village. His walk with the Lord was so intimate that he was burdened to start a church in his village no matter the danger… no matter the cost.

In 2012, I had an opportunity to go to Chandan’s village with one of our Bible college students. We held a Gospel preaching meeting. Two people got saved on that day. One of them was Chandan’s father.

The following month, a group of us returned and had an open air meeting. More than fifty villagers attended. During the service time, several young Hindus came to hinder the service. Although they did not physically assault us, they threatened us and demanded that we not do any Christian activities. When our trip was finished, our group returned home, but Chandan boldly stayed in his village.

Since then, Chandan has suffered persecution in many different forms, but because of his faithfulness the Lord has blessed him. Two young men in the village have since received Christ as their Saviour.

On April 24, 2015, early in the morning a deadly cobra bit Chandan’s only son. He was just eight years old. Proper medical treatment was too far away, and they were too late to help him. While Chandan was taking his son to the hospital in an ambulance, this young boy died just one hour after being bitten.

I was 200 miles away from him, but I had been keeping in touch with him on the phone. After talking with him that day, he said his son had no more progress; he was dead. I tried to comfort him. In answer he said, "I believe God will make my son alive again, but if not, I will still accept that He gave me a son, and He took him back." To trust God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love in such pain and heartbreak! Oh, what faith!

When I heard this tragic news, I and two friends immediately left Kathmandu to comfort him. After travelling all night, we reached Chandan’s village. The scenario was very painful. His wife was unconscious and was admitted to a local dispensary. All the family members were mourning.

After a while I noticed that Chandan’s father and some other relatives were not treating Chandan well. I asked him the reason, although I had suspicions of what it was. As I guessed, he told me that they were blaming him that his son died. They believed the snake god was angry because Chandan had become a Christian. They thought it was a curse, a very common reasoning in this country. I tried to convince his father, who was a professing Christian, but he was not convinced.

The relatives had created an atmosphere of superstitious hysteria. As far as they know, Chandan’s son was the first person in his village that died because of a snake bite. This also made them blame him for other things going wrong in the village. They believed the gods had been angered, including the snake god.

In the following days, the people attempted to force Chandan to do many religious activities they do after someone's death. These things included shaving the head, puja (religious worship of gods), purifying his body by taking a ceremonial bath, etc. Their attempts to force him failed. Chandan refused and would not give in. He would not forsake the Lord no matter the danger.

Later, the persecution became so intense that Chandan was almost ready to leave his village. He asked me what to do. I told him he must do what he felt the Lord wanted him to do. Finally, 
he decided not to leave his village, because he said he did not want to be an example of a Christian running away from suffering for Christ. Oh! What faith!

It has been eight months since this tragic moment in his life; he is still faithful in the Lord and trusting Him with all his heart.

God is working in this village. Some have been saved, and some hearts have been softened toward the Gospel too. Even one of his brothers accepted Christ, and another one is listening closely.

In Matthew 8:10, Jesus spoke to a centurion about his great faith. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.I also can say that I have not seen a man of this much faith in my life. I am very thankful to the Lord for him. As for me, he is an example of true faith. And oh! What faith!

Please join me in prayer for this dear brother.

Pastor Bijay Pradan
Truths Inside the Bible

(Thank you, Brother Pradhan, for allowing me to help with this post as well as allowing me to share this story. God used it to challenge me to stay faithful at any cost.)


Lou Ann Keiser said...

Thank you for sharing this. What a challenge! I am praying for him today.

Jessi said...

Wow! I will pray for him too. Thank you for sharing this post with us.