An elderly woman leans against the railing on the upper balcony of a cement building. The noises of a crowded city can be heard faintly from the inner courtyard. Birds punctuate the air with raucous cries. Her face erupting in a wide smile, it seems that every part of her visage is expressing joy: from the free-spirited grin to the laugh lines, exaggerated crow’s-feet, and twinkling eyes behind round-rimmed spectacles. Dressed casually in a purple top and draped crimson and yellow sari, she is a picture of relaxed happiness.
Nearby, two small girls watch shyly, taking a break from their play to observe the scene. Outside a sliding glass door, stacks of shoes await their owners: bright pink for tiny feet, black slip-ons for elderly ladies. Laundry for frames large and small hangs from a clothesline, taking advantage of the dry summer air. In this setting, young meets old with an unexpected ease, childhood colliding with the wisdom of age in a tangle that seems unlikely but works perfectly.
This is Mercy House, a place where the love of Christ invites the most vulnerable among us, widows and orphans, to live together.
The founders of Mercy House recognized that two groups of society’s neediest members had a lot to give—to each other. The children, all girls half- or fully orphaned, and the elderly women, whose families lack the resources to care for them, inhabit these yellow and turquoise painted walls together. The girls receive schooling, meals, and a warm bed to sleep in, while their elders find a place to live out their final years in a dependable and safe environment.
In the process, they provide each other with something desperately needed by us all: a sense of family. The little ones, with their brightly animated play, bring an infusion of innocent joy and lightheartedness into the time-worn hearts of the older women. And the arms of the widows, which have embraced many children over the years, do not have to die empty. With their sage wisdom and storehouses of love, the women provide what every growing girl needs—the nurturing warmth and care that only a grandma can give.
Mercy House is an outreach of Koinonia Patan Church in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. A sign of the vibrancy of the small but growing body of Christ in Nepal, Mercy House was founded by an act of faith. Guided by God to expand their reach, church leadership at Koinonia Patan challenged the congregation to come up with the funds necessary to purchase a small piece of land in the city. Starting with $2,000, they prayed and leaned upon God. Overflowing donations came in to support the project, and in one month’s time, they had $50,000 to complete the purchase.
That was in 2003. Today, Mercy House stands on that piece of property, a testimony to what faith in God and the power of Christ can do. Ten girls and 13 women are housed here, and by the grace of God they receive what they need to live lives full of dignity and hope: a safe home and the nurturing love of each other and the church.
Koinonia Patan Church has a heart for the vulnerable among them, and they are determined to do what they can to serve the poor and the lonely in their community. Fueled by the strength of Christ within (Phil. 4:13) and an undeniable move of the Holy Spirit, they are lifting children out of poverty, taking in the elderly, and caring for physical as well as emotional and spiritual needs. The story of Mercy House is the story of each individual girl and every widow whose life is allowed to blossom under the watchful care of our heavenly Father. It’s the story of new hope for those at the beginning of life, and satisfied joy for those at its end. But it’s also the story of how one fellowship in the body of Christ, full of love and mercy, is fulfilling the words of James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (NIV). And as the church in Nepal grows, there will be many more twinkling eyes for elderly women, and carefree hearts for young girls.
At Mercy House, it’s already a reality.