Today was a sight-seeing day. Pastor Ram had 3 young men guide us, who grew up in the orphanage and now lead: Amit, Vishnu and Silas. These are wonderful young men who love the Lord. They took us to see two temples that are huge tourist attractions, drawing people from around the world.
We have seen hundreds of idols and shrines on the streets of Kathmandu. Some are very small and some are the size of a small shop or kiosk. But nothing could have prepared us for what we saw today.
I would say that we saw over a thousand idols today. Our team is reeling with sensory overload. It is hard to put into words.
First we went to a Budhist temple on the top of a large hill. It is thousands of years old, and the legend says that this temple was not built, but appeared by itself. It can be seen on the hill (the high places of the Old Testament?) from far away. The central temple is very tall, and has the "all-seeing eye" painted on it (2 eyes with a question mark-esque symbol). The eyes are looking out over Kathmandu. Surrounding this temple are many hundreds (or more?) of smaller shrines, idols, prayer wheels, etc. The shrines are small indentions in the temple all the way around, each containing a carving of Buddha. Between each shrine are the prayer wheels. Worshipers will circle the temple, moving the prayer wheels with their hands while they pray. Some would light a candle and place it in the shrines, toss some rice in (offering it to the god) and we even saw some bow down before the idols. Inside the main temple was a large solid gold buddha idol.
Outside were monkeys crawling everywhere, and pigeons. There were merchants with tables selling souvenirs. The main souvenir was the singing bowl. People rub the outside of the bowl with a wooden tool and it creates a sound. Silas said, "Jesus is our Healer...so why do we need a singing bowl?" All over the area you could hear the sound of a chant-like song being played on speakers. The young men guiding us said that the song was saying, "Worship the lord Buddha. He is the alpha and omega, beginning and end."
Afterwards, we went to the main Hindu temple. It overlooked a very dirty river that is supposed to be a holy river. Dead bodies were burning on the bank of the river on platforms. Fortunately, they were very burned and we could not see anything too graphic. But we were forced to breathe in the smoke of the dead bodies.
Again, there were SO MANY IDOLS all over the area and hilltop. Monkeys were everywhere, and Hindu holy men who wanted money to get your picture taken with them. There were beggars missing limbs.
I don't know what to say. What striking images have filled our minds today! What darkness covers and enslaves this friendly and beautiful people! Paul said in Romans that they "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things" (Rom. 1:23, ESV). We saw this today. He goes on to say that they "exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen" (v. 25).
Never in all my life will I forget what I have seen today. But I do not judge this people as worse than us. Their idols are out for everyone to see. Our many thousands of idols come in different forms. We worship sex, money, entertainment, sports, hobbies, material things, and SELF.
May God be pleased to break the power of darkness over this beautiful land, and draw out for himself a people in Christ, for the glory of God!! And may God break our hearts and so move in us that we turn from our own idols, and serve Jesus radically and faithfully. May that service to Christ lead us HERE with the gospel, and to all the ends of the earth.