THE STORY OF NIMA TSHERING
This story of his life is told in a booklet ‘Nima Tshering of Shang, Tibet’ (Maranatha Revival Crusade, Secunderabad).
Tshering was born in 1917. His parents were serfs (tshe g.yog) who put him into Shang Gadan Chokhor Monastery to become a monk; they did this lest their owner took their only son to be a servant, just as they themselves had been taken when only children.
Tshering tells how it happened: ‘When we came to the monastery my teacher told me that when the head lama talked with me, he would ask how old I was. This teacher said that I must answer that I was seven years old, as that was the youngest age that a boy could be admitted to that monastery. Sure enough, when I went to the lama, he asked that question. I answered, “I am six years old, but my teacher told me to say that I was seven years old, otherwise I will not be admitted.” The principal laughed and laughed and said, “Pooh! You will be a truthful man when you grow up. Although you are only six years old you may become a monk today.”’
Tshering made very good progress as a monk, and after some years, went on to study in the great monasteries of Lhasa. While living at Drepung he had good food and could also earn money. He writes: ‘When people died, I went to their homes to read from the prayer-book called Bardo Thoydol (bardo thos grol, The Tibetan Book of the Dead). This book shows the way of hell. Buddhism says that everyone must go to hell once. If they do good work and worship the idols, then they can be reborn into this world as a human being. There are many kinds of gods in hell. They have animal heads, and when the dead person’s spirit sees them it shakes with fear. This is what I as a lama explained to the relatives of the dead person.’
In 1952 he was in Bhutan during the great festival of The Illumination of the Buddha, the day when he began his teaching (drugpa tshes bzhi, The 4th of the 6TH Month Festival). He writes, ‘All we lamas gathered together to worship. We had good food and wine, and we all became intoxicated. Also, I became sexually involved with a girl. All these things are against the lamas’ teachings. From that day on I was no longer a lama. I felt very sorry about this and no longer wanted to stay in Bhutan. ‘I was now 35 years old, and had learned Buddhist teachings for 29 years. I left Bhutan and went to India, and visited many holy places – Buddh Gaya, Varanasi, Kushinagar and many others. My money then ran out, and I was left with no peace and no possessions.’
In Calcutta he found work, but while there fell very ill with malaria. A Finnish lady gave him food and medicine at a Christian dispensary. She also gave him the Holy Bible, in which he read that God made the world, and how idols are not worthy to be worshipped. And he thought, “This is not my religion.”
He went from there to Darjeeling, where an English couple, who were Christians, asked him to teach them Tibetan. Again he read in the Bible about idols, how people prayed to wooden idols, saying, “You are my God, save me” (Isaiah 44:9-17). But Isaiah also wrote that the idol can’t move from its place, it does not answer or save us.
After this Tshering became sick again, and was treated for 11 months in a TB hospital. Then a Christian man came and prayed for his sickness. He was cured and believed in the Lord Jesus. In the Bible he found it would be for a blessing if he obeyed the Lord God, but for a curse if he followed dead idol gods (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
དེ་རིང་ངས་ཁྱོད་ཚོར་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་དམོད་པ་གཉིས་ལས་གཅིག་འདམས་ཀ་བྱེད་པའི་གོ་སྐབས་སྤྲད་ཀྱི་ཡོད། དེ་རིང་ངས་ཁྱོད་ཚོར་སློབ་སྟོན་བྱེད་བཞིན་ཡོད་པའི་གཙོ་བོ་དཀོན་མཆོག་ཁྱོད་ཚོའི་དཀོན་མཆོག་གི་བཀའ་རྒྱ་རྣམས་ལ་སྲུང་པ་ཡིན་ན་ཁྱོ་ཚོ་ལ་བྱིན་རླབས་ཐོབ་རྒྱུ་དང་། འོན་ཀྱང་བཀའ་རྒྱ་འདི་དག་མ་ཉན་པར་དེ་སྔ་ནམ་ཡང་མ་མཆོད་པའི་ལྷ་རྟེན་གཞན་ལ་མཆོད་པ་ཡིན་ན་ཁྱོད་ཚོར་དམོད་པ་འཕོག་ངེས་སོ།
And in Isaiah again, he read how God was offering a new way of liberation from samsara (‘khor ba).
After that, Tshering opened his heart to the Lord, and invited him to stay in his heart, as the Saviour Jesus whose promise of forgiveness and cleansing he trusted.
So Tshering was baptized in 1955, and spent the rest of his life in this new way of trusting and obeying, and enjoying Jesus’ blessing. He wrote and distributed gospel booklets, and taught in a school for Tibetan boys, and became a leader in Christian churches.
This is how he finishes his life story, ‘Recently the Lord led me to Kathmandu, Nepal, where I now serve Him. Here there is a great number of Tibetans, whom I seek to tell of the true and living God; and of the Saviour who saves from sin and from its penalty, so that we don’t need to go to hell – not even once …. Pray that many will be delivered from the chains of darkness, and brought into the light of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’