The Woman with the Elephant Ring

by Jen (New England Outreach Team)

We sat on an empty bench looking into an empty town square. Our friend, a Nepali pastor, explained how tomorrow morning this exact spot would be filled with people and produce.  Apparently this weekly market outside of downtown Boston was a hub for Nepali, Korean, Brazilian and many other people groups. Looking around skeptically, I prayed that tomorrow God would bring the right people across my path.

The pastor said he came to this market to meet other Nepalis and invite them to his church. Tomorrow, we would help him!

I couldn’t believe my eyes the next day as we walked into a totally transformed environment.  Stands full of crafts, fruits and flowers filled the once empty square.

People from many backgrounds milled about. I scanned the crowd, but didn’t see one Nepali face.  After what seemed like a long time of walking around and praying and no Nepali people in sight, I began to feel discouraged.

All of a sudden the pastor shouted to me, “Look over there! She’s Nepali!”

I raced toward an older woman and broke out into excited greetings in her language. She seemed a little shocked but happy to be approached. I learned that her name was Kulmari. Because I had just met her, it felt awkward to immediately invite her to the new Nepali church, but I decided to anyway.  To my surprise, she said yes!

The next day we arrived at the church. It was a small but vibrant group of people.  Some were Bhutanese refugees and some simply immigrants from Nepal. I looked for a familiar face, but was disappointed to not see Kulmari anywhere.  Maybe she was just being polite when she said yes to my invitation, I thought to myself.

But as the service began, she walked into the room! I was so happy to see her and gave her a big smile.  After the service we all went downstairs to eat together.  I made sure to sit beside her and I asked about her life.

She told me she came to the U.S. eight years ago but didn’t have one American friend and could barely speak English.  Kulmari could no longer work because of health problems and deeply missed her children and grandchildren who were still in Nepal.

As we were talking I happened to glance down at her hands and noticed a little elephant ring on one of her fingers. This ring was Ganesh, one of the Hindu gods that she worshipped every morning.  I immediately felt an even greater burden for this woman and asked if I could pray for her for healing.  Passionately, I prayed that God would heal her physical problems so that she could feel His love and open her heart to her creator. We parted ways that night with smiles and hugs.

It didn’t seem possible that after meeting as strangers in a market place we had become so close.  Kulmari didn’t decide to commit her life to God that day but I believe she had a Divine encounter. I’ll keep praying for her and I hope that one day she will know the God who loves her.