The old man is certain of two things: He can walk again, and Jesus made it happen.
Known in this ethnic Tibetan community only as “Grandpa,” the 71-year-old tells his story with a gleam in his watery brown eyes.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” Grandpa repeats, holding his palms together just under the nose of his weathered face and bowing his head as if in prayer. “I prayed to Jesus, and now I can walk.”
It began about 10 months ago, when Sonam Lhomi, an ethnic Tibetan, introduced the old man to her friends Eliza Ellis* and Alexis Frei,* student volunteers serving in Nepal.
At the time, the old man was confined to his bed, paralyzed from the neck down as a result of an avalanche in the mountains. For three years, Grandpa could not move his arms or legs. He was completely bedridden, requiring constant care.
Then Sonam, Ellis and Frei paid a visit to the man’s modest one-room home he shares with his wife. They came to tell the family stories about Jesus. When they realized the man’s condition, the three women offered to pray for him.
“I requested them to pray for me, and they prayed for me a lot,” Grandpa says. “The girls showed me [how] to pray to God, and then I prayed to God.”
Slowly, over a period of weeks, Grandpa began to regain his ability to move. First it was his arms.
“I kept praying and praying,” Grandpa says.
Then he could move his legs. Finally, he could stand and walk.
“I had no money, no medicine and no doctor,” Grandpa exclaims. “Jesus healed me!”
Today, Grandpa is a follower of Jesus. Once he regained the ability to walk, he started attending the Lhomi church in his community. His wife comes with him. Although she is not yet a believer, she sits outside the building and listens to the sermons. Grandpa hopes to be baptized soon.
Though it has been three years since he did any mountain trekking, Grandpa also hopes one day to hike again. He wants to return to his village, which requires a plane ride, a jeep ride and three days of walking.
“When I am strong, I will go to my village,” Grandpa says. “I will tell them what Jesus did for me.”
Until then, Grandpa can be found on the streets of his community in Kathmandu, practicing his calisthenics and guiding all who will listen—not to the summit of Everest but to the God who healed him.
Tess Rivers is an IMB writer.