Nepal (MNN) — Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs say they have reached a compromise over the new constitution that resulted in a crippling economic blockade at the border with India.
Although it could take months to implement, basically, the agreement is a three-step one, aimed at a so-called correction of amendments in the newly-adopted secular constitution. Already five months into the blockade, the dispute between Nepal and India involves groups unhappy about the country’s new constitution.
Protests are a regular part of the city scape. Some have been deadly, but mostly, manifestations of civil unrest are complicating relief efforts for a country still devastated by the spring quakes.
JP Sundararajan, Audio Scripture Ministries Asia director, says, “There’s always this hope that it will be lifted sometime soon. So, we’ve been waiting and waiting; and what has happened is that it’s felt like a slow strangle, of sorts.”
But time is running short. For the average person, fuel to heat and cook with comes from good, old fashioned wood. People have resorted to using furniture for that purpose.
Even stories like that didn’t really hit home until they got word about the impact from the ASM country director of Nepal, who lives in Kathmandu. Sundararajan explains, “[The embargo] is felt in every strata of society, be it from airplanes not going in, to motorcycles not being able to be taken into areas where they really need their help, to our friends not being able to afford groceries.”
With winter setting in, schools have been shuttered. Hospitals are delaying surgeries. What’s more, says Sundararajan, “Gas prices are through the roof. In fact, you can’t get any gas for your vehicles. Food supplies, everything: the price has gone up. Especially for national missionaries and our partners on the ground, this has exacted a terrible toll on them.” The country’s central bank said the unrest could plunge more than 800,000 into extreme poverty.
In the midst of the constitutional upheaval, the ASM team managed to complete recordings of the Nepali and Maithili New Testaments earlier this year. These are the two major languages spoken in Nepal, and within two years of opening a small office in Kathmandu, World Cassette Outreach of India/ASM embarked on and finished recordings that will impact millions in the years to come.
They hoped to send around 600 audio Bibles into Kathmandu. Sundararajan says there’s a huge demand for audio Bibles, so the initial shipment of 600 is merely a drop in the bucket. Sensing the urgency, he adds, “We’ve been trying to send a lot more audio Bibles in. We finally got a big shipment, and we sent it. [However] it was stopped at the border between India and Nepal, and our director in Kathmandu had no access to it.”
Between ending the blockade and figuring out what “correction” of constitutional amendments really means for Christians, Sundararajan says, “The best thing we can do right now is to pray that this embargo of sorts that has been imposed is lifted.
Details on why they have this blockade are still very hazy and shady.” A thought he expressed in an earlier blog closes this story on Nepal: “We worship a God who fed a multitude with a few loaves and fish, and we lean into the hope found in that miracle.”