Lord, there is a rhinoceros in the middle of the road. What should we do?
By Bruce Piercey, Eurasia Regional Director
February, 2013—Over a year ago, I participated in the ground-breaking ceremony for a fully wheelchair-accessible building, possibly the first of its kind in Nepal. Dignitaries and people suffering the visible ravages of leprosy sat together among our church partner’s 300 guests—a testimony to how this lowly church is held in high esteem.
Worship gave way to speeches, which gave way to prayers for safety and wisdom during construction. When it was my turn to speak, I shared the parable of the Good Samaritan, focusing on Luke 10:33, which refers to ‘splangchnizomai’: the God-given, gut-wrenching compassion by which we respond to our neighbours’ suffering—something our partner in Nepal has in abundance.
Every year, their Spirit-filled community transports, houses, feeds, and cares for over 100 of Nepal’s poor, injured, and ill. This new building will be their patients’ home while they receive medical treatments in Kathmandu.
The building is nearly complete, 14 months after a small piece of earth was turned over that day. But at the time, an ascent up Mt. Everest might have felt less daunting. The sheer audacity of publicly celebrating the construction of a building for the lowest members of society was a noteworthy event in the spiritual history of Nepal.
The night after the ground-breaking ceremony, we were driving through Chitwan National Park in the pitch-black. As our driver navigated a sharp bend in the road, a huge, dark shape loomed ahead. There in the headlights, about two car-lengths in front of us stood a rhinoceros. A nearly extinct, single-horned, white-spotted rhinoceros. After a lengthy staring contest, he slowly lowered his head in our direction and took one step toward us before turning and blocking the whole road. What a massive beast! He posed majestically in our headlights, as if to say, “I am Leviathan!” and finally strode into the dark forest.
An unexpected and fearsome obstacle blocking our way forward… absolutely no idea what we should do… the terror that it was going to stomp us into the ground… As I thought about it, I realized this was the perfect metaphor of what lay ahead for our building project.
The boldness of this church community to proclaim God’s love for the least and the lost would inevitably cause many rhinoceroses to appear unexpectedly. Some may test our patience. Others may go on the offensive. We may get hurt. But we dare not get out of the car and shout at the rhino to get out of our way. We cannot push it off the road. No, this will be a spiritual battle, fought with spiritual weapons. When there is a rhinoceros on the road, all we can do is call out in prayer: “Lord, there is a rhinoceros in the middle of the road! What should we do?”
Two people had asked to be baptized after the ground-breaking ceremony. By the time the tub was full of water at the church service the following weekend, there were four people standing in line. In the end, six people were baptized. This, I think, was a fitting end to an emotional week of milestones, and a powerful testimony of just how easily God can lead the rhinoceroses of our lives out of our way.
Please join with me in committing to pray often that the Lord will watch over our partner in Nepal and their community of believers. Lord-willing, and pending any unexpected rhinos, they expect to move into their new building soon this year.