Nepal (MNN) — Nepal is known for being on top of the world, a place home to the "Garden of Dreams." It's also a country where a struggle for power continues between Hindus and Maoists.
Caught in the crossfire: the Christians. Traditionally, Christians in Nepal not only come under attack from political parties, but also from co-workers and family members.
For a few years, as the turmoil of a new government and new constitution threatened believers, it seemed that the future was bleak. However, the outright hostility in the last couple of years seems to be settling down. Fewer reports are coming in from persecution watchdog groups.
That's good news, says Bibles For the World president, Mawii Pudaite. It's been exciting to see God working in such an obvious way. "A few years ago, we were not allowed to witness openly to people in Nepal. Pastors were imprisoned for witnessing and preaching the Word of God."
Today, Nepal is a democratic nation, not a Hindu kingdom. However, Pudaite cautions, "The ruling party is currently communist. There is freedom of religion in the country. Although no one knows how long this freedom will last." She goes on to urge other Christians to take advantage of this opportunity to share the Gospel. Why? People are ready for it.
An example: The Bibles For the World team arrived in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, on a Friday. On Saturday when Pudaite came down for breakfast, "One of the managers of the Hotel where we stayed came over and asked me, "Are you a Christian?"
Pudaite warmly responded that she was. Then, "He told me, 'Sometime ago, someone gave me a Bible. It is in English. And I cannot understand the English fully. I would like to read the Bible in Nepali, my language, even though I am a Hindu. Do you have the Bible in Nepali?'"
The manager left the exchange happy about her promise, and Pudaite was both thrilled and excited. The following Tuesday morning, she presented him with the Nepali Bible. "I also shared with him the plan of salvation. The manager invited Christ into his heart. Before we left Kathmandu, I was able to introduce this newborn babe in Christ to a local pastor to look after him."
An auspicious beginning, indeed. Saturday, they visited a Worship Service at the Isai Mandali Church, a body which recently celebrated their 50th Anniversary, possibly making them the oldest church in Kathmandu.
Pudaite explains, "This church had stood faithful through all the time of persecution and difficulty before democracy." What's more, she says, the testing had reinforced the direction of this church. "The Pastor announced their vision and goal as a Church: [to reach] five million people in the metropolitan area of Kathmandu. We are now providing them with the Gospel of John for their outreach and also the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs for their follow-up programs."
Committing themselves to resourcing this vision is a tall order, considering they've just finished two earlier print runs of several million. But the need, Pudaite observes, was obvious. "We thought giving the people of Nepal one million copies of the Gospel of John would be what we would do. However, as we saw the hunger and thirst of the people to hear and read God's Word, we would like to provide at least 3 million copies of the Gospel of John for the people of Nepal."
Naturally, BFTW will move forward as soon as possible to meet their pledge. But can they do it? With help and prayer, the answer is YES. "It costs just 25 cents to print and distribute the Gospel of John. No Christian is too young or too old, or too rich or too poor, to have a part in this exciting program."
Shortly after the church visit, the BFTW team hosted a special training. "We conducted what we call 'Seed Sower's Seminar' for national pastors, evangelists, and missionaries serving within the country of Nepal. We shared with them: the power of God's God to transform lives [and] how to use the Word of God as a tool for evangelism."
Vision, training, and resourcing…really, a "Pray, Give or Go" model of the Great Commission. It underscores what BFTW strives to do when they come alongside a national church.
Nepal's believers are dreaming big on top of the world. Pudaite closes with this thought: "God Himself guarantees that His Word will not return unto Him void."