By Denise Poon
Ask any Nepali and they will know exactly where they were when the earthquake struck on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 11:56 am local time.
Shreesti was in church. Butel was eating lunch with his wife. Fulkumari was out to buy noodles for her daughter. Ram was working in his jewelry shop.
It was still Friday in Los Angeles when the Nepal earthquake struck, and a BBC news notification buzzed my phone to life, alerting me to the fact.
I could not know then, as my eyes skimmed over the phone screen, but less than a year later, I would be in Nepal. I would buy my first (and ugliest) pair of hiking boots ever and trek through rural parts of the country. I would stand on a mound of rubble and realize with a jolt that the nondescript stone and wood were the remains of someone’s house. I would listen to villagers tell me about the injuries they suffered, or about family members who had died in the quake.
But it was just a Friday night. It seemed almost ridiculous that while I was standing around in my pajamas, packing for a weekend trip, somewhere else in the world, a whole new day had already begun and disaster had struck. I might have prayed – I mean, I’d like to think I did. But I probably didn’t. I had an early morning flight to catch the next morning and I likely just went to sleep.
In my mind, there were too many disasters and crises to keep up with. And to be frank, all the "Pray for Paris," "Pray for Pakistan," "Pray for Belgium" posts that erupted onto my social media feeds, only to fade with the headlines, felt trite to me. Like those times I've told someone, "I'll pray for you," but never ended up doing it. The earthquake got shuffled in with the other injustices and sufferings of our broken world.
By the time I arrived in Nepal almost a year later, relief aid had ebbed into rebuilding, and Nepal was caught between the two. No longer at the center of the international and media frenzy, waiting on an inert government to help its people. Despite 4.1 billion USD donated to Nepal, there is insufficient organisational infrastructure to handle the money. I saw buildings half-mauled and buildings still standing, people moving forward with grit and resolve, people lowered to despair and grief.
The Nepal I encountered was and is still a nation sill in ruins, despite the countless humanitarian organizations that flooded Nepal with resources – money, experts, food, supplies, volunteers. I felt that there was only one who could possibly be of help in the midst of all this. I realized prayer is the only infallible resource we have in crisis and suffering; it goes directly to God and He will work unhindered by bureaucracy and politics, and He certainly lacks for nothing by way of infrastructure.
So it’s now, a year after the earthquake, that I am going to pray for Nepal. It’s when the shock and spectacle of disaster recedes from the center of the international stage, the media turns its gaze elsewhere, and the "Pray for Nepal" posts on my social media feed have been overtaken by videos of baby bunnies.
Nepal still needs prayer. So do Paris, Pakistan, Belgium. Ecuador was hit with an earthquake two weeks ago; the world is not lacking in places that need prayer. I hope that the shelf-life of these prayers go beyond a disaster's stint in the news.
Nepal, I am going to pray for you. Really. For your people to feel comfort. For your pastors to be able to encourage and lead people to know who Jesus is, the hope that only He can bring. For your political leaders to have wisdom. For organizations that have come alongside your communities to persevere, such as United Mission to Nepal. For my SIM Nepal colleagues, that those already serving their communities would continue to do so with strength and joy. For myself, to remember that many are still suffering. For more prayers to be lifted on your behalf.