A kidnapping and a murder heighten tensions in the Nepalese church.

By August 24, 2004

Nepal (MNN)–Maoist rebels in Nepal have claimed responsibility for the murder of a radio journalist last week.

The rebels then distributed leaflets in Radio Nepal journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa’s hometown in the mountainous western Dailekh district announcing he had been convicted and executed for “spying”.

The news rocked staff at the headquarters of Gospel For Asia. KP Yohannan says Thapa was a missionary for them from 1998 until 2000, when he felt a calling to journalism.

Security issues were already at the forefront of their minds because just days earlier, Nepali missionary Besh was abducted by the Maoists. As of this writing, no word has been heard on Besh or his whereabouts.

The threat mounted high enough to where authorities have ordered two other missionaries, Pastor Basu and native missionary Imansingh, to vacate their area of ministry within a week.

Gospel For Asia’s KP Yohannan says, “We never expected these kinds of things to double up immediately. But now, this new turn [of events] has taken place; attack, kidnapping and killing by Maoists toward the Christian workers.”

Yohannan says they’re looking at how these events may change the way ministry is done in light of the changing tide. “The Maoists never really attacked our people. They said, ‘You people are helping our poor Nepalese; you started schools for them’ and all that, but all of the sudden, everything turned around and became kind of dark. So, there is some apprehension [about] how it is all going to be.”

Yohannan says the church in Nepal is maintaining a prayer vigil even as they continue their work. Please pray for the missionary Besh’s protection and safe return. Pray for courage for Besh and other Nepali believers in the face of persecution.

Pray also for the 200-plus pastors and their churches, and the 356 native missionaries in Nepal. Pray especially for the congregations that must continue on without their pastors. Also remember Thapa’s family as they struggle with the tragedy. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

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