The Miraculous Rescue of Aradhana Pradhan
(Edited by David Lockyer, UK)
Chapter 1. The Chasm
Chapter 2. The Fall
Chapter 3. The Deliverance
Chapter 4. The Invitation
Chapter 1. The Chasm
The Pokhara Valley, also known as the ‘Switzerland of Nepal’, is famous for its enchanting Himalayan vistas, serene lakes, mystical caves, waterfalls and other allurements of nature. Added to these, many other traditional and cultural attractions make it a hot spot for tourism.
The Valley lies in the central part of Nepal, to the west of Kathmandu, the country’s capital. The sharp rise in altitude causes the area of Pokhara to receive the highest rainfall in the country. The strong current of the Seti River and its tributaries have dug canyons and deep crevices in the floor of the valley.
Some of these crevices are open, seemingly bottomless cracks on the surface of the ground. Whilst some of these are readily visible, others are narrow and overgrown with grasses and plants. These cavernous gullies lurk dangerously hidden. Moreover, what might appear to the observer to be a superficial, harmless furrow can actually be very deep and therefore very dangerous. Sadly, there have been reports of people both local and foreigners (tourists) who have lost their lives in these crevices. Some of their bodies have never been recovered but lie to this day deep down in these inaccessible and deadly graves.
On The 24th July 2008, John Pradhan and a friend took a walk around the cemetery of Nayagaun in Kharbari, which lies close to the river. Little did he know that his only daughter, Aradhana Pradhan, then aged 2 ½ would accidentally fall into one of these deadly crevices to a depth of approximately 60 feet. When the accident happened the news spread like wildfire and soon made headlines all over the country. The air of tension grew and grew. After 20 hours of various attempts being made by a whole range of people, no progress had been made to secure her rescue. By this time, Aradhana had been alone in that dark, narrow hole without a single drop of water and without any food. She was trapped in such a spot where it was impossible to lower anything to her, let alone reach her. The parents and everyone else feared for the worst. Initially, for some hours, the crevice would echo and resound with the cry of that little girl, calling out for help, crying out to her father and mother and calling the names of other acquaintances. Now however, apart from the noise of the rescuers, there was an eerie silence. The air rang out with the clang of their metal tools as they sought to chip away at rocks inside the chasm that were obstructing the path to where Aradhana was. Yet, there was no longer any human sound from within the chasm. At this stage, the minds of all involved in the rescue were filled with foreboding questions. ‘Would they manage to break through the buttress of rock that prevented their progress?’, ‘would the girl still be alive if they did manage to reach her?’, ‘why had they stopped hearing her helpless cries?’ Let’s continue to read…
Born and raised in Shillong, India, John felt led to move to Nepal to share about the love of God and the new life available to all who believe in Jesus Christ. He settled down in Pokhara in the year 2002, and together with another missionary couple, laboured to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to see their lives transformed. In 2005 he married Esther and within a year a beautiful baby girl, Aradhana, was born to them in Shillong. Soon after the delivery of their daughter, they returned back to the mission field of Nepal.
Aradhana, an only child, was the joy of their parent’s life. After her first birthday, she began to grow up to be a sharp and intelligent girl. A fast learner, she would quickly pick up the Sunday school songs and try to imitate the actions too. Her name ‘Aradhana’ means ‘worship’ and true to that name she would just love to close her eyes, lift up her hands and worship the Lord, as she would sing bits and pieces of choruses in her sweet innocent voice.
Chapter 2. The Fall
It was this voice that echoed as she cried out from inside that crevice on the afternoon of 24th July 2008 and that caught her father's attention. John, his family and other members of the church he pastors had gone to the cemetery in Nayagaun, Kharbari in Pokhara for a funeral. A couple from his church had lost one of their two sons who both were bedridden since birth as they were born without the ability to either move or talk. The parents had cared selflessly for them since their birth. They expressed more love and devotion for these boys than many who have able children. The mother especially loved them both dearly. It was therefore a very grievous moment for her as they began to prepare for her son's burial. Esther, John's wife, was trying to console and comfort her as she grieved. In the meantime the men were busy making arrangements at the burial ground. John and one of his friends decided to walk to the other side of the field to see the graveyard of a famous Nepali pastor, who was also buried there. He had no idea that his little daughter, Aradhana, would decide to follow him. The mother, who was consoling her friend, failed to notice her slipping away and following her father. It was only some time later that they realised she had wandered off as John and his friend suddenly heard her voice crying out for help.
At first they searched for her all over the field but she was nowhere to be found. Then they came to the semi-concealed crack in the ground and they feared the worst. To their horror they realized that Aradhana had actually fallen into the chasm and was trapped somewhere beneath the earth. Out of panic, fear, love and yearning for the life of his daughter, John immediately jumped inside the crevice but could go no further than 10 feet below the earth. The wall of earth quickly narrowed so that it was impossible for a grown man to force his way through. Above the ground the opening of the crevice extended quite a considerable length across the field and so it was difficult to tell where exactly Aradhana was lying trapped.
Soon a crowd of locals thronged to the area. The local authorities and policemen also arrived at the spot. It wasn’t long before the media and news reporters began to relay the news to their respective offices, and soon Nepal was resounding with the news of this terrible incident. Christians from Pokhara, belonging to various denominations, gathered at the site and began to pray and cry out to God for the safe deliverance of Aradhana. Many simply watched helplessly whilst others sought to provide whatever help they could. It seemed that the whole of Nepal waited tensely for any news as to the outcome of this tragic event. John and Esther’s relatives in Shillong and his sister in Bangalore had by now been informed of the accident. On hearing the news they also began to cry out to God with tears and earnestly longed that they could be with John and Esther at such a time. One of John’s two elder brothers, also a pastor in Shillong, immediately emailed the news to all of his contacts both in India and abroad requesting their prayers and intercession. Soon Christians, not only in Nepal and India, but also in the USA, UK, Australia, China, and other places who had received this news began praying earnestly with some of them staying awake almost throughout the night.
In the meantime in Kathmandu a young man belonging to the Nepal Canoeing Association, which specializes in adventure sports, was watching the news on T.V. As soon as he learned about the incident, he immediately called his other friends and they agreed with one accord to leave Kathmandu that very moment and travel to Pokhara. They immediately began the 7 hours journey by road to Pokhara, hoping earnestly to arrive before the situation turned fatal.
Earlier, in the late afternoon, John had become tired and grown famished in his relentless attempt to rescue his daughter. At one point of time he threw himself to the ground in utter exhaustion, looking up at the sky above him. His faith in the One who delivers His people with a mighty outstretched arm now faced an even greater challenge as he saw the dark ominous clouds of the summer monsoon beginning to cover the sky. He stared helplessly and hopelessly as a raindrop fell on his face. July is in the heart of the monsoon season and the wide basin of Pokhara receives the highest rainfall in Nepal. It had rained heavily on each of the previous days. Would it begin to rain now? If it did, then every effort made until now, no matter how great, would prove futile. Rain falling on the surface would quickly run down into the crevice and would risk submerging the little girl in no time at all. It wouldn’t have to rain for too long for this to happen and this would mean the end of every ounce of hope for her survival.
John looked up to the sky, stretched out his hands above him and silently whispered a prayer. He simply asked, “Lord Jesus, please let it not rain”. As soon as these words had been uttered the clouds above him parted in the middle, forming a triangular shaped space of clear sky. Through the triangle fresh light beamed down below to where John was lying. It seemed that God was silently reminding John that where there is darkness, His light shines the brightest. He felt God assuring him that where there is no more hope and we come to the end of ourselves that it is then that His grace beams upon us with the light of hope, joy and strength. Immediately, John saw a vision of his daughter being brought up from the chasm, alive and well. Faith welled up within him and he turned to his wife who was weeping bitterly, took hold of her arms, looked straight into her eyes and said “Esther, cry no more for Jesus just showed me that our daughter shall come out alive”. When the media people interviewed him, he simply looked at the camera and confidently announced “The Lord showed me a vision of my daughter coming out of that chasm alive”. What would the non-Christian, secular world make of such a strange announcement? They waited and watched to see what the God of the Christians would do now. This was evident enough when a brother from John's church, who was also actively involved in the rescue operation, received calls on his mobile phone from non-Christian friends who would taunt him with words like “Let's see if your God can deliver her”.
Chapter 3. The Deliverance
By now the scene on the ground had changed. Believers from various denominations were all praying, singing, and worshipping God with one voice. That evening a young man, called Solom who also happened to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, from another church, and lived in a nearby village called Tutunga had made an attempt to get inside the chasm but this had also proved futile. In fact, by now every effort that had been made had come to nothing. Throughout the night people took turns to reach the girl but every time they made progress new challenges stopped them dead in their tracks. At one point, just as they thought they were getting closer to her, to their dismay they came across a rock right in the middle of their path. The rock stood there like a buttress, shattering their rising hopes. Yet, these brave men would not give up hope. They decided to attempt to manually break through the rock. This strategy would, however, put Aradhana in greater danger. She was lying somewhere deep below the obstacle of the rock and so they risked sending pieces of the boulder hurtling down towards her.
Finally, in the early hours of the morning the Canoeing team from Kathmandu arrived and started to work immediately. The process of cutting through the rock had begun. Little by little they chiselled and scraped away at the rock, carefully placing the pieces into bags and unloading this above the surface, having crawled up out of the chasm. With time at a premium the whole process was frustratingly tedious and extremely slow. By now darkness had given way to daylight.
It was now approximately 20 hours since Aradhana had fallen into the chasm. Throughout this time every attempt to lower food and water to her had failed. The crevice was too narrow and to add to this she had ended up under a lip at the base of the chasm. For hour after hour this little girl of two-and-a-half years of age had lain there all alone. Curled up in a cold and inaccessible corner of a deep, cold pit, she had waited for her rescue with no food and a not single drop of water. It was now around 10 am in the morning and her tiny voice had not been heard for some time. The only question ringing in peoples’ minds was “Is she still alive?” Despite all evidence to the contrary, John and Esther were resolute in their faith that their daughter would come out alive and well. Despite what our minds might tell us, when God has spoken we are somehow gripped so powerfully that we become overcome by a faith that we know is not of us but from above. Such faith empowers us to stick to our objective and not give up. John felt he had heard from God that his daughter would be brought out alive. This vision filled him with faith that God could do the impossible.
The young man Solom, who had also made an attempt to get to Aradhana but had failed, had returned home to sleep. According to his testimony, on the following day in the early morning he felt a strong prompting from the Holy Spirit to return back to the site and help in the rescue effort. He knew all too well that the gap inside the crevice was too narrow for him to squeeze through but he had an idea. His younger brother, Kamal, who was about 10 years old was much slighter in build. Kamal was well known to the locals for his athletic abilities. He had dropped out of school whilst he was studying in class 1. He would spend most of his time loitering in the valley and the lake area, entertaining people with his gymnastics and other acrobatic feats. When boys playing football in the field near the river lost a ball, he would clamber down the deep ravine to get it for them for a reward of a few rupees. Despite being so young he was a risk-taker. The scars on his body and the roughness of his skin told stories of the kind of life he’d led.
Solom narrated the story of Aradhana to Kamal and asked him if he would volunteer to go down into the chasm. Kamal immediately agreed. For fear that their parents might not permit them to take such risk, they left home quietly without informing anyone. They rushed towards the rescue site.
When the crowds came to learn that a 10-year-old boy was volunteering to go down into the crevice, there was understandably a mixture of opinion. Some feared that such a venture might lead to the ending of not just one but two lives. Eventually, Kamal convinced the crowd to at least give him one chance. Kamal was lowered down into the chasm to a depth of about 50 feet. This was the depth to which the other rescuers had reached but had then been prevented from going any further due to the narrowness of the gap.
Here the walls of the chasm closed in to a bottleneck, which made it impossible for them to clamber through any further. However, Kamal managed to just squeeze through this gap and was lowered down about a further 10 feet. His body seemed to fit the gap exactly. When he finally touched the bottom, he realized there was a passageway leading to a very small cave-like hole. Kamal crawled inside and there right in the corner he could see a figure coiled up in a foetal position. It was Aradhana and she was still breathing! As he shuffled up close to her she whispered, “Who are you?”. Kamal replied, “I'm your brother” and he tried to assure her that he was there to help her. With very little strength left in her body, Aradhana whispered again, “I'm thirsty”. Kamal hollered to the people above for water. The crowd above went wild with joy when they heard that the little girl was still alive and was actually asking for water. Initially, Aradhana was too afraid to come out of the cave into the more open area from where she could be pulled out. But Kamal tactfully convinced her and holding her by her hand brought her up out of the little cave. Now the task remained for Kamal to help her reach the rescuers who were waiting at the opposite side of the bottleneck 10 feet above them. A further group waited at the safety of the surface, 50 feet above them. They lowered a rope, which Kamal tied to Aradhana’s waist. He then slowly and carefully pushed her up against the wall from where the men above were able to pull her up and hoist her all the way to the surface.
John and Esther and the rest of the believers began to thank and to worship God. Television channels broadcast the scene of Christians shouting praises to Jesus as they eventually pulled Aradhana out with Kamal's help. John and Esther were kept at a distance and weren't allowed to rush toward the child for fear of causing shock or any other emotional breakdown. Above the ground as they laid Aradhana on the stretcher she turned and saw her father a little further away. John could also see her through the figures in the crowd that was moving around her. As her eyes met her father's, she gave a sweet smile of assurance to her father as if to say “Everything is going to be fine Daddy”. The vision God had given to John of Aradhana being brought up alive had been fulfilled right before his eyes.
An ambulance and doctors had already arrived on the scene and after a brief examination she was rushed to the Manipal Teaching Hospital. Here she was given a free treatment for the next couple of days.
After the rescue, the media followed John and his family literally every day from morning to night. There were many interviews and John was able to speak of the wonderful way that God had acted to save and rescue his precious daughter. Throughout Nepal and other countries also the news of God’s grace and power was broadcast. The same people who taunted and challenged their Christian friend over the phone called him again to exclaim with reverence, “Indeed, your God is the true God”.
The fact cannot be denied that a wide range of people gave themselves wholeheartedly to save Aradhana. From simple, ordinary, town folk to the army and the professionals. But eventually, God would use the least of all – an ordinary little boy to finally rescue her and through this to draw praise to Himself.
People wondered how a girl of just over two years could fall into a crevice about 60 feet deep and not suffer from any internal injuries or any broken bones, despite the fact that there were rocks inside that pit. People wondered how a girl of her age could survive in the dark cold earth for 22 hours without a single drop of water and without any food. People wondered how, in the heart of the monsoon season, when it had been raining the previous days, it suddenly didn't for as long as Aradhana was inside the chasm. Indeed, they couldn't help but acknowledge that this was truly a miraculous act of the God whom the Christian worships.
Today, John and Esther and their relatives in India remain thankful to all the caring hearts that came forward to offer themselves in order to rescue Aradhana. In fact, her parents regard Kamal as if he was their own son. Kamal also lovingly calls Aradhana, “little sister”. As John and Esther continue to serve the Lord and His church in Nepal their daughter has become a living testimony of the Gospel of Salvation that her father tells people about.
Chapter 4. The Invitation
The amazing circumstances of this miraculous rescue captivate the imagination. They are a vivid illustration of another far more significant rescue that involves us all. The story of our own predicament and our own rescue are mirrored in what happened on that fateful day.
God’s word, the Holy Bible, tells us that, like in the case of Aradhana, there was once a dreadful fall. Mankind was originally created to live in a close, loving and obedient relationship with the God who had created them. This relationship was severed as mankind rejected God and fell headlong into a deep spiritual chasm. Ever since that event men and women have lived in that darkness. We attempt through religious works to haul ourselves out of this spiritual chasm but to no avail. Try as we might, we are unable to put right the consequences of that fall through our own efforts. We remain distant from God, desperate and helpless.
But that’s not how the story ends… The good news is that God Himself, moved with the compassion a Father would have over a lost child, has not given up on us. He Himself has devised a plan. This plan involved taking upon Himself the human nature. He became a man in order to rescue us. That man is Jesus Christ. Like the brave Kamal, Jesus entered into the darkness of our world. He came to us. Not only did he come to us but also made a way for us to be rescued. He suffered on the cross in order to pay the price for our act of disobedience. If we now acknowledge who He is and trust in Him as the one who rescues us He will lift us up out of our spiritual darkness. He will unite us with God and present us to Him safe and whole.
The Lord Jesus Christ is reaching out to you today through Aradhana’s story. He wants to bring you out of that spiritual chasm and give you a new life. He said in the Bible, “I'm the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father (God) but by Me”. He has the power and the authority to save us from all our sins and to forgive us for every evil and wicked thing we have done. Jesus can do this for you because He Himself paid the price for your sins. He entered the chasm of death itself as He died on the cross two thousand years ago. He died, but on the third day He rose again and lived for 40 days and 40 nights with his followers after coming back to life and then ascended to the Father in Heaven.
Just as Aradhana had to trust Kamal and offer her hand to come out alive of that hole, let me encourage you to stretch out your hand in faith to Jesus today. He'll take you out of that pit safely and give you a brand new life. And like Aradhana, you'll live to tell to this world of what the Lord has done in your life.
Here is a prayer, which might help you to express this –
Lord Jesus, I want to thank you that you entered this world to rescue me. I believe that you are God and that you have done everything necessary to save me. I believe that you died on the cross in my place as a substitute and that you rose again. I am sorry for my sin and I choose today to trust you and take hold of your hand. Rescue me Lord and give to me the new life that you promise. Amen
May God bless you and may the name of Jesus Christ be glorified in all the earth.
In conclusion, we praise and thank our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ for showing forth His glory through this incident. He is indeed the Mighty Deliverer.
John hugging Kamal with deep and profound gratitude ________________________________________________________________________________
Aradhana today (18/04/2014) with her 8-months old sister Abigail and cousin Daniel (my youngest son)
Also, after this incident the Lord spoke to John and Esther to bring home the orphans and the helpless children who're trapped in their own crevices of poverty, hunger and depravity. At present they have adopted two girls who are being looked after as their own daughters. Do pray for him and his family and the church he's pastoring in Pokhara, Nepal.
Also, we cannot help but express our heartfelt thankfulness and gratitude to the following wonderful people who became God’s instruments in saving Aradhana: -
The believers of Pokhara Anugraha Mandali, Pokhara, Nepal
Kamal Nepali (the hero of Nepal)
Local heros, Juthey and his team.
Nepali Canoeing Association Team
Pokhreli Christian society
The churches of Pokhara
The churches in India, Shillong, England, America, China, Australia, etc. for their fervent prayers and intercessions
Green Pasture for providing the ambulance.
Eglo who was with us and helped us and also prayed for us
Shishu Niketen Higher Secondary School for providing the camera.
Manipal Hospital for providing free treatment.
The local people of Pokhara who was with us during that time
Winchester Family Church and New life Southampton for their loving support and care
TV media, especially Sagarmatha TV and the FM radio of Nepal
John’s parents, Deep and Chitra Pradhan
John’s eldest brother, David Pradhan and his family
John’s second elder brother, Reuben Pradhan who came all the way from Shillong to Pokhara to be with them during the situation. Thanks to his family too
Usha Pradhan and her family for their support in many ways
David Lockyer (UK), for helping in editing this story
And many others whose names we probably failed to mentioned here. If you're one of them then please know that we're filled with a deep sense of gratitude and magnanimous thankfulness for your love and support.
God bless you all.