Andrea and Andrew Young, who are providing vital pastoral care to United Mission to Nepal workers in Kathmandu, Tansen and Okhaldunga, recently learned about the importance of rest in a way that profoundly affected how they see and live out their call to mission.
BY ANDREA AND ANDREW YOUNG, CMS MISSION PARTNERS IN NEPAL
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It is not always easy to give thanks when life is difficult. Earlier this year, Andrew suffered a heart attack while we were on UK leave. There were dark moments of questioning that made us wonder what God was saying to us. Our experience made us feel vulnerable, realising that our lives are fragile. Many of you reading this will understand what that feels like.
During the five months while Andrew was recovering, we lived with the sense that we had left part of ourselves in Nepal and that things there were not complete. We were aware that many in Nepal were waiting for our return. We struggled when our plans were completely turned around, and yet with hindsight we see the extra time in the UK as God’s gift and realise, as it says in Proverbs 16:9, “in their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
In our darkest times, we discovered that God was there in the stillness, waiting for us, wanting to draw us even closer to himself. We experienced the verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) in a new way. Through times of retreat, we experienced his renewal of spirit, especially through silence and meditation, particularly during a trip to the windswept beaches of Lindisfarne.
While Andrew was recuperating, we stayed in North Yorkshire. Andrew’s sister was across the road – having family close by was very special. The time of illness and recovery was actually a wakeup call for us! It forced us to be quiet as we couldn’t really do anything other than stay at home. When people rang us up and asked whether could they come round, we said “yes” as our diary was empty. People could stay for as long as they wanted without any pressure of other appointments getting in the way, and we saw how important that was. This experience profoundly affected how we saw our pastoral role with UMN and it started to bring to life a vision that we had had in 2016 of creating a retreat centre in Nepal.
While in Nepal we had seen many mission workers feeling stressed, as the needs are great and ever present. And so our vision came about to create a place where people could just “be”, a space for them to develop a life of prayer and experience quiet before God – to receive more of him in their lives as they deepened their relationship with him. It would also be a place where people could come for possible counselling or spiritual companionship.
This vision has started to become a reality now that we are back in Nepal, as the flat below us where we live became vacant and we were able to rent it. Over the next year we will begin to use this space in different ways in order to strengthen the spiritual life of those working with UMN.
In time, it could also be a resource for the Nepali church, helping Nepali pastors to encourage their congregations to develop a more reflective, contemplative style of prayer and to fully rest in God’s presence.