In Nepal, there is a need for examples of a Christian family – what a father looks like, what a mother looks like, and how they relate to children – which does not exist in the Nepali culture.
But one family has inspired many by their love for each other and in their service to the church and the needy in Nepal.
When TEAM’s Becky Martin first arrived in Dadeldhura, Raghabir Budha worked as an interpreter for the hospital and pastored the church. She was impressed with his good nature and practical knowledge of medical work despite having little formal education. But more than that, she saw a difference in how Raghabir treated his family.
Raghabir’s life was centered on his wife and children. Most Nepali men would finish work and then go to the bazaar, but Raghabir would go home to spend time with his family. His involvement with his children was unique in Nepal society, where traditionally women care for children.
Raghabir and Parbhati had three children: sons Arun and Kaleb, and daughter Maya. The children grew up attending the nightly devotional time that took place in their home. Anyone from the community was welcome, and Becky sometimes attended.
“It would be a lot of people that couldn’t read, that didn’t know the Word, so he would just read a passage from the Bible and then explain it as much as he could and as much as he knew,” Becky said. “I think that had a huge impact, especially on his own family. It was so impressive to see someone that didn’t have training, per se, but that just took the opportunities to learn and to grow and to know the Word.”
Raghabir only completed his education up to the fifth grade, though he later received a few months of Bible training in India. However, this did not hinder his desire to share Christ with others. Son Kaleb remembers that many people who came for treatment at the Dadeldhura clinic would stay with them. Raghabir would show them pictures and share the Gospel story and Parbhati cared for them.
“Many people used to come to our house, and my mother never complained. It was very good support for my dad,” Kaleb said. “She was not a preacher, and she did not lead any fellowship, but she was very good at showing hospitality.”
Raghabir died of a heart attack in 1999, but he leaves a legacy of service in his children. Inspired by the doctors at the mission hospital where they were raised, and seeing first-hand the medical needs in rural Nepal, Arun and Kaleb have both become medical doctors.
“Since our childhood, we wanted to be medical missionaries,” said Kaleb. “But we were not sure we would be the doctor. We were praying, we wanted to seek the Lord, but how, we did not know. It was quite expensive or you had to be very much talented person. So we were praying, but God suddenly opened that door.”
With support from TEAM Nepal, Arun attended medical school in China. After graduating in 2005, he worked at the Dadeldhura hospital. Last year, the human rights organization Informal Sector Service Centre awarded Arun the Prakash Human Rights Award for his medical service to rural Nepalis. Kaleb graduated from Nepal Medical College in Kathmandu, then spent two years working at the hospital in Rukum. Both men have a vision to serve the underprivileged in remote areas of Nepal.
“We grew up in this mission hospital compound, seeing the poor, diseased, wounded people every day, and I used to think that one day, if God was willing, I would become a medical professional and serve those kind of people,” Kaleb said. “I wanted to serve Him through my life, so I became a doctor and I’m trying to follow that vision.”
Steve and Marcy Knoble came to Nepal with TEAM 14 years ago as medical personnel at the Dadeldhura hospital. They knew the Budha family; Steve treated Raghabir after his heart attack, in the days before he passed away.
“The credit for who Arun and Kaleb are goes to their mom and dad,” said Steve. “It’s a blessing. We are honored to have been partnered with them, to see what God’s doing through both of them, and what He will continue to do through both of them in their service to their own country.”
“We are very thankful to God,” Kaleb says. “It’s not because of who we are, but it’s because who He is, so all glory and credit we give to God. It’s not what my brother did or what we did, it’s not because of that – it’s God who did it through us. And many times I remember the story of five loaves of bread and two fish… we try to do little things, but God makes it bigger – a lot bigger.”
-Written by Megan Darreth
-Photography by Robert Johnson
[Originally published in TEAMHorizons, March 2011]