Memo to Gloria Steinem and all the educators in California: Conversion to Christianity can be a tremendous boost to one’s self-esteem.

That’s what writer Barbara Thompson discovered on a recent trip to Nepal. Like India, that society has a caste system, which reinforces a negative self-image on the part of all but a few. The Christian gospel, however, brings a message of personal worth and radical equality. Barbara says the church there is “like a giant seminar in self-esteem.”

The gospel message of equality plays out in changed relationships not only between social classes, but also between the sexes. Both Bible student Min Raj (see “A Young Voice of Hope,” page 18) and his father came to the conclusion that when he becomes a Christian, a man can no longer assume that it is his wife’s duty to do all the (literal) dirty work.

In addition to the psychological poverty bred by a social caste system, Nepal also suffers from grinding physical poverty. Barbara came to Nepal fresh from a visit to Bangladesh, a proverbial site of starvation and disaster. But on her arrival in Nepal, the utter poverty nearly blinded her to its mountainous beauty. The inhabitants’ skin tone was patchy and their hair was coarse and uneven—sure signs of serious malnutrition. And their life expectancy is under 50 years—a far cry from the legendary hundred-plus life spans of the nearby Hunza valley.

Barbara, a professional writer specializing in corporate and family histories, enjoys traveling the world and reporting what she finds. Her next international trip will take her to Indonesia. For now, you can share her visit to Nepal by turning to page 14.

DAVID NEFF, Managing Editor

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