Buphals Story

It started six months ago when a mother brought a very thin and unresponsive child to our new nutrition rehabilitation centre. He was 4 years old at the time and only weighed 10 kg, when a normal Nepali 4 year old should tip the scales at about 14kg. His name is Buphal. Buphal is the only son of a woman whose husband left her a few years ago. She has tried to do the best she can by carrying loads of rock and other building materials for a living, but caring for her son has not been an easy job. After all, Buphal is not your average child. Since the beginning of his life he has had special needs. He has a disease called neurofibramatosis which causes neurological problems and some developmental delays, so his mother has no one to support her in a country where there are precious few programs to help developmentally delayed children.

When he first came to the nutrition centre after a brief stay at our mission hospital he did not interact much with our staff. He was severely malnourished and, after only two days with us, developed signs of pneumonia. I sent him back to the hospital for treatment but his mother took him home and we thought that he must have died. Thankfully I was wrong. A few months later he was back at our hospital suffering from severe vomiting and after a few days was readmitted to the nutrition unit. This time he responded to the love, concern, and food that we gave him. It was an amazing thing to see him blossom into an alert young boy. He quickly became one of our favourites because of his kind wide smile and riveting eyes, and as he put on weight he became more and more verbal and interactive.

Even though his mother is not a believer, Buphal loves our Lord. His grandmother attends our church and has had a great influence upon him. Every Saturday before I go to church I always go to the centre to say hello to staff and the clients. He would often be telling his mum to hurry up because he needed to go and pray. It was very apparent that he believed in praying to God because he would grab anyone passing by around mealtime and say “We need to thank God for the food”. This usually happened several times each meal!

As Buphal left our centre the second time he smiled and joked with us as he walked away. We were all amazed at what a little love and food could do. About a month later his grandmother came to our home one evening. She said that I needed to come to her house to visit Buphal. He keeps on asking her when he was going to see me again. He had not been eating well for a few days and she was obviously concerned. I gave her a few eggs and some fruit as well as a 2 rupee coin (Buphal was famous for collecting coins from the pockets of any visitors at the centre).

A few weeks ago he was readmitted to the hospital. He had had some swelling in his face for a few days and woke up at 4am one morning to tell his mum that they needed to go to the church to pray. Thirty minutes later he was unconscious. When he finally arrived at the hospital he was in cardio respiratory arrest and needed CPR. Amazingly, he survived. I visited Buphal’s bed almost every day for two weeks. Each time I go he has been sleeping. His Mom said that he wakes up to eat, says a few simple words, eats a little, and then goes back to sleep. He did have a dental abscess that may have triggered the whole incident. The tooth is now gone but the results of the lack of oxygen to his brain are evident.

Last week at our monthly section meeting (at work) we read the gospel account of the death and resurrection of Jesus with my staff. I then shared the news of Buphal’s condition and began to cry. I think my staff were a little shocked. That’s fine with me. I shared that Buphal knows that he is going to go to heaven and that whether he lives or dies he is in the hands of God. When we went into the time of prayer two other staff asked for prayer about other needs in their lives. I was greatly blessed since these staff are not believers. We were praying to the God that Buphal believed in. He is the God of a little child, the creator and sustainer of all we see and don’t see. Some of my staff have realised that there is power in our God, a power that can only be accessed through faith in Jesus. What a blessing this was for me to see. To think that this opportunity all came from a relationship with a little child!

Yet, the story does not end there. On Easter Sunday we had a special time of prayer for two people at our church. One of the two was Buphal. The next day his grandmother told me that he was now coherent, talkative, again bugging his mum to pray, and seemingly recovered from the event. I had to see this for myself but Buphal’s father, who has been absent for two years, magically returned. The sad news is that Buphal and his mum left for the father’s village the next day and then less than a week later they all went to Mumbai for work. I have yet to see Buphal but I know that whether I see him on this side of heaven or in the presence of God I will look on the face of a child who truly loves and believes in the risen Lord of all creation.