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In January I travelled to Nepal with a group of amazing women (and one amazing man) to see the work of Baptist World Aid and their partner NGO, United Mission to Nepal (UMN). We travelled for 8 days through rural Nepal and visited some inspiring women and children who are flourishing in business, education and community. It was an incredible experience that I hope has changed me forever.

After a huge day of winding road and meetings with amazing Nepali women, we headed to our evening’s accommodation. My sister had packed me a medical kit containing half a pharmacy and had also bought me a sleeping bag insert.

“Jenn, we are staying in hotels…” I protested.

“Trust me, you’ll need this,” she had replied.

Holly and I set our luggage down.

“Oh wow,” she whispered, with her hand covering her mouth.

There were three deadbolts on the door. We locked them all, sprayed essential oils and put on worship music.

I got out my phone and snapped a photo to send my sisters.

Their Whatsapp replies came in at the same time:

Jenn (lives in Perth): What’s that stain on the wall?? *big eyes emoticon* *spewface emoticon*

Kath (lives in remote Mozambique): Oh, it’s nice!

Liz (lives in remote Thailand): Nice hotel!

I LOL’ed and thanked God for my sleeping bag insert.

Later that evening I lay in my bed and let my mind wander. I recalled many of the incredible things I’d seen that day and felt such peace and gratitude that I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

John 10:10 says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I’d always struggled to understand what Jesus meant when he said that. Life to the full? Full of what? Because as a Christian, I certainly didn’t have a full bank account, or a life full of happiness, free from grief and loss. It seemed that Jesus was saying that our lives would be full of joy and meaning, but I don’t always see this in me, or in our churches.

But in Nepal, I could more easily see what Jesus meant.

The verse in its entirety says, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In Nepal, the evidence of the way the devil seeks to “steal and kill and destroy” is right up in your face. The natural environment drowning in plastic pollution, people living in poverty, suffering from preventable disease and treatable infection, and homes and livelihoods destroyed by earthquakes. And then there are those who literally come to steal. Who cause fathers and mothers to cling tightly to their children, lest they are carried off by strangers and sold into slavery.

Death and destructive, poverty, disease, brokenness and despair right in front of my eyes. I know that the devil is just as busy stealing, killing and destroying in Australia, but in Nepal, the evidence isn’t hiding inside neat suburban homes.

But against the backdrop of this darkness, the light shines clearly. In Nepal, Jesus is using His people to shine into communities; making them safer for children, bringing justice and equity for women, giving the next generations education, hope, health, safe homes and sanitation. The women we met shone with joy and laughter, they told us that since taking part in the UMN projects, their lives have been full and flourishing.

Every good thing comes from God, and God is certainly using Baptist World Aid and their partner UMN to bring His goodness to Nepal.