In a dark, cramped room in southeast Asia, a young man lay paralyzed and in despair. On the wall next to him sat a row of Hindu idols, collecting dust and unable to help him see any purpose or hope ahead. Yet today this young man, healed and redeemed by Christ, proclaims the Gospel to his friends and neighbors. The journey to this happy ending was not an easy one, but it is one marked by the faithfulness of the God who heals and redeems…
Two Friends on a Walk
The story began on a typical February day in 2020. Cindy and her husband Mike serve with TEAM in Southeast Asia doing pastoral care and family counseling. Cindy is also trained as a nurse and often uses those skills to minister to families in the local church.
On this particular day, Cindy and her friend Vishnu set out on a morning walk on the outskirts of the city. The two ladies talked and prayed together on these regular outings. Today Vishnu was burdened. “Cindy, I met a lady at the water tap and she told me about her son who is sick. It’s terrible – just terrible.”
Vishnu explained that the woman’s son was twenty years old and had been preparing to go to university. However, six months earlier, he experienced sudden pain in his back and became paralyzed. The family consulted medical doctors as well as Hindu healers, but no one seemed to offer any hope.
Cindy and Vishnu decided to visit the woman and her son right away. Cindy prayed that her training as a nurse might open a door for her to minister to the family. The two women passed through a courtyard to a low, tin-roofed building with no windows. As they entered, they found the young man lying on a hospital bed in a small, dimly lit room. He was not able to sit up or even lift his head off the pillow.
A Desperate Situation
As Cindy became acquainted with Nabin and his mother Gita, she felt their hopelessness and despair. Through tears, Gita shared Nabin’s medical records. After several months with no answers, doctors had finally diagnosed Nabin’s condition. He had tuberculosis of the spine, also known as Pott’s Disease. The deterioration of the vertebrae from the TB put pressure on the nerves, causing paralysis.
Doctors performed a surgery in which metal rods were placed on each side of Nabin’s spine. Gradually, some feeling and function came back into Nabin’s lower body. However, the doctors did not give his mother much hope. They told her that Nabin might never walk again.
Cindy remembers that first visit, sitting in the darkened room with tears in her eyes. “This was her only son,” Cindy shares. “Her husband had left her, and her son may never walk again. [Gita] said to me, ‘He wants to die.’”
Prompting of the Spirit
As Cindy looked around the room, she saw Hindu idols on a shelf. Yet she felt the gentle urge of the Holy Spirit prompting her. “I knew [Gita and Nabin] were Hindus,” says Cindy, “but I said to them, ‘I don’t know what to do. All I know is to pray. Is it alright if we pray together?’” Gita and Nabin agreed, and Cindy prayed earnestly for healing and direction.
Throughout the following weeks, Mike and Cindy continued to visit Nabin. Nabin’s English was good and he told Cindy that he liked to read. So on one of their visits, Cindy brought him a book by Nic Vujicic. Nic was born without arms or legs yet shares his amazing testimony of living a vibrant life despite his disability. Nabin liked the book and read about how Jesus transformed Nic’s life.
At the same time, Mike and Cindy continued to minister to Nabin’s physical and emotional needs as well as his spiritual ones. Mike is an accomplished baker, and he often brought smiles to Gita and Nabin’s faces when he visited with their favorite homemade treats – chocolate cake and carrot cake.
Cindy also asked Joelle, one of her TEAM co-workers who is a physical therapist to visit Nabin with her. Joelle found that Nabin’s muscles were deteriorating from lack of use. She showed Nabin exercises to do, and she prayed with him.
A Turning Point
Over time, Nabin’s heart began softening to the Gospel. In the early days, he told Cindy that he only allowed her to pray because he didn’t know what else to do. But then one day as Cindy sat with Nabin in his room, he looked at the Hindu idols on the shelf. He asked, “What do you think of these idols?” Cindy, not wanting to offend him, thought for a moment and said, “I’m not going to say anything about them right now, but I want you to think about them and what you believe in.”
With excitement, Cindy shares what happened next. “I came back about a week later and the idols were gone! Nabin said, ‘We have decided to become Christians and we took down all the idols.’” Nabin shared how their Christian neighbors had been visiting and praying for them too, and Nabin and Gita accepted Christ!
Calling for Back-Up
With Nabin and his mom now experiencing the joy of knowing Christ, Mike and Cindy still felt burdened to address his physical condition. While he had made significant improvement in sitting upright and gaining strength, Nabin was still unable to stand or walk. Cindy consulted with two doctors on her team who suggested getting Nabin to a rehabilitation facility. The doctors could help get him admitted but the cost was far beyond what the family could pay. Mike and Cindy appealed to their sending church, Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church in Indiana, who graciously raised the funds for Nabin’s hospital stay.
Unfortunately, right about that time, COVID lockdowns forced a delay in Nabin’s admission to the rehabilitation hospital. “We were frustrated by the delay,” Cindy recalls. “But now we can see God’s plan and wisdom.” During the lockdown, a small group of believers from the local church came regularly to Nabin’s home and had church services right there so that Nabin and his mother could take part. “I came as well and prayed and shared the Bible with them,” says Cindy. “This time was important in their newfound faith.”
By October 2020, the way was clear for Nabin to receive three months of treatment at the rehab hospital. Nabin’s four hours of daily therapy enabled him to begin walking using parallel bars and then eventually with a walker. He called Mike and Cindy with the joyous words, “I feel like I have my life back.”
By early 2021, Nabin was released from rehab to return home. Cindy recalls clearly her first visit with him after he returned. “Nabin was seated on the edge of the bed. He wanted to show me how he could walk outside,” Cindy remembers. “Nabin grasped the walker firmly and stood with great effort. He used the walker to slowly make his way across the small room. He was unstable and his arms shook from the effort, sweat dripping from his forehead. I was constantly on edge because it seemed he could fall at any time.”
Thankfully Nabin made the short journey safely. After rejoicing with Nabin and his family over this victory, Cindy was encouraged but also aware of the time and effort that would be necessary for Nabin to walk normally.
Putting in the Hard Work
Cindy continued to visit Nabin a couple of times a week and often saw discouragement set in. At times Nabin grew weary and made excuses to avoid physical therapy. Mike and Cindy feared that he would lose the function he had worked so hard to gain.
Mike and Cindy returned to the U.S. for a 4-month home assignment but prayed daily for Nabin to work hard in their absence with the support of his mother and his local church family. God answered those prayers! Nabin called one day explaining that he had walked to church – and even climbed a flight of stairs! “The church people knew of his story and were crying and saying, ‘It’s a miracle!’” shares Cindy.
A few weeks later another message came with a video of Nabin walking holding on to his cousin’s hands. More calls and messages of his progress spiritually and physically kept coming in. The day before Mike and Cindy were to come back to Asia, they received a video of Nabin walking on his own and proclaiming “Jesus is alive, he healed me!”
Better Than Netflix
Upon their return to Asia, Mike and Cindy found more reasons to rejoice. Nabin grew not only in physical strength, but in knowledge of the Lord as well. In the past, Nabin confessed that he found reading the Bible to be “boring.” But as the Holy Spirit worked in Nabin’s heart, he began to discuss with other believers how the passages applied to his life. One day he picked up his Bible, started from the beginning, and just kept reading all day! As the stories unfolded, he told Cindy, “This is better than a Netflix series!”
Cindy shares an amazing full-circle ministry moment that showed her the incredible work that God did in Nabin. Vishnu, Cindy’s friend who first introduced her to Nabin, was experiencing several difficult trials in her life. “Vishnu was visiting Nabin and his mom as I entered the room,” Cindy says. “Nabin took down his Bible which was carefully wrapped in a clean cloth and opened it and chose a passage. He read the Bible to Vishnu and started preaching to her and encouraging her.”
Nabin now has a bright future ahead. He loves computers and is considering how God might have him pursue his interests in technology. Regardless of where he goes, however, Nabin is bold in sharing his faith. Mike says Nabin tells the story to anyone who will listen. “He says, I don’t care if they’re Hindu. They need to know about Jesus because this is what Jesus did for me.’”
It Takes a Church
As Mike and Cindy look back on Nabin’s journey, they see how God used many people to be the light of Christ to him. First, Vishnu connected Cindy and Mike to Nabin and his mom. Then Cindy connected Nabin to physical therapists and doctors. Mike used his amazing baking skills to bless the family with special treats. Meanwhile, God also brought along Christian neighbors who encouraged Nabin and Gita in receiving Christ and introduced them to the local church. Mike and Cindy’s sending church in America funded and prayed for Nabin’s stay in rehab. And now YOU are reading Nabin’s story and praising God for His goodness! Isn’t the Body of Christ amazing?
Cindy sums it up beautifully: “Many people say, ‘It takes a village.’ I say it takes the Church to mobilize God’s transforming power in a life!”