Kashmir: Birth and Rebirth

But the thunder of His power who can understand?

Job 26:14b

Imagine that you can change the world. Too big a dream? Okay, how about changing a nation. Still over the top? A city? A village? A household? How about one life? After all, Jesus told the parable about leaving the flock to find one lost sheep (Luke 15). And at this point in history, we are the plan through which God works.

Deciding to take on the challenge—be it one lost soul or an entire lost nation—is a big step. Where to start, how to begin, who to choose, why now? Great questions all. Good news! There is a place to begin that can change an entire land and potentially make a difference in the world.

Kashmir, India, is not the India seen in most movies. It is set apart by custom, history, and religion. A predominantly Muslim population, the people cling to their beliefs in the midst of the troubled and often dangerous circumstances in which they live. It has been said that there are seven million Muslims and two hundred twenty Christians in Kashmir; that’s not a hard fact but a window into the spiritual state of the region.

In the midst of this sits John Bishop Memorial Hospital, a Christian bastion that has been operating since 1890. Located in the town of Anantnag on land donated by the Maharaja, it is a cluster of aging red brick buildings that today focuses on obstetrical care for women and infants.

It also houses a nursing school that is renowned for the excellent education it provides to young Muslim women. The students begin their day with Christian devotions and Bible reading. It is mandatory. Christian professionals who utilize not only textbooks and hands-on nursing techniques, but who also bring Jesus into the mainstream of the day, every day, are educating them. This school is in danger of closing its doors, as the antiquated facilities no longer meet code requirements. Closure would shut off a main conduit that takes Jesus into the greater community.

The SEAPC medical team served at John Bishop this past year. Student nurses functioned as helpers and translators; they were eager to learn and had many questions during private moments. At clinics they witnessed miracle healings through prayer, reinforcing for them the power of the Great Physician. And reinforcing for the team the absolute need for this school to remain open.

The team stayed on the hospital grounds for part of the Kashmir outreach. One morning, quite early, we were hurried to the main building and helped into sterile gowns and masks. In the delivery suite, Dr. Sarah made the first incision for a Cesarean section birth. Her skillful hands soon reached into the womb, and a moment later she pulled out a small, red, wrinkled body. After cutting the umbilical cord, the nurse put the newborn in a warm bed.

I stood by the baby girl’s side, enthralled with her lusty cry, her pouty lips, and her waving hands. One tiny, new life. One brand new soul. Thirty seconds after she first took a breath, I put my hand on her tummy and lifted her to the Lord. To be honest, I don’t recall exactly what I prayed, except that I dedicated her to Jesus Christ and asked for protection from forces that would prevent her from coming to a saving faith.

This experience turned into a teaching moment for the students. Not only on obstetrical practice, but on Christ and him crucified, resurrected, and living within believers. One of many such moments the staff has with the young women on a daily basis while they are there. Moments that send Jesus into hearts and into the community, moments that will not happen if the school closes.

SEAPC is stepping in, with plans being developed to build a new nursing school facility on the hospital grounds. Certainly, medical care is needed in the area, and practitioners to provide it. But how much more does the village need Jesus to seep into the Muslim culture? And if just a few of these student nurses are reborn, they will take the Lord into workplaces and homes in Kashmir, and from Kashmir into other areas of the nation, and from the nation into the region. And there you have it. A world impacted for Jesus Christ, a world reborn one soul at a time.

This is not simply a touching story, inspiring words, or a lofty vision. It is literally a brick and mortar project. SEAPC must raise $185,000 to rebuild. That’s a lot of money for an obscure facility halfway around the globe. A nice thought but seriously, how can it possibly happen?

Let me suggest it can happen. Through you. This is a blatant “ask” for your support. Up to fifty babies are born daily at John Bishop Memorial Hospital. What if fifty souls are reborn each day to Jesus? Or what if only one soul comes to him at a time? Is one too little for the investment? Jesus didn’t think so. He came for everyone, anyone, or only one.

This is a brief glimpse into the history, vision, and need faced today in the battle for Christian survival and growth in a dark part of the world. Let the light come. Let it flood the mountains, the valleys, the souls of Kashmir. Be the one who helps to make it happen. Feel the joy of something so much bigger than our finite minds can even grasp.

As you read this there is likely a baby being born at John Bishop. And maybe—just maybe—even a soul being reborn.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23.

If you are interested in more information about the history of healthcare in Kashmir, John Bishop Memorial Hospital, or the region in general, please contact us at info@seapc.org.

About the Author
Laurel Houck image

Laurel Houck

Laurel Houck has been traveling on the SEAPC Medical Team for over eight years. In 2018 she came on-board as the Medical Liaison. She serves to build the healthcare platform through recruitment of practitioners, coordination of medical missions, and development of funding streams to sustain this component.