Nepal (MNN) – In recent years, persecution of Christians in Nepal has risen considerably in certain areas of the Hindu-majority nation.
Fluid Religiousness in Nepal
On Open Doors USA’s World Watchlist, a list of the top 50 countries where Christian persecution takes place, Nepal was not previously on the list until 2018. In 2018, it shot up to 25th. In 2019, it still remains on the list but has dropped down to the 32nd spot.
Bibles For The World’s (BFTW) John Pudaite calls the religious situation in Nepal “fluid”.
In 2015, the Nepal constitution was rewritten. Technically, it declares that people have freedom of religion. Nevertheless, some authorities in certain areas of Nepal have understood and acted out the constitution and laws differently than in other areas, creating fluidity in the nation’s religious situation.
“You will see support or at least cooperation from government authorities from certain areas of the country, and then in other areas of the country, you’ll hear reports of persecution and oppression of the Christians, and it has really come down to who are the local people and how vigilant or how adamant they are about trying to keep Nepal as a Hindu nation,” Pudaite says.
“We’ve seen things rise up again and again, attempts to really squelch the growth of Christianity in Nepal, but I think it’s starting to reach a critical mass.”
Pudaite says at a recent gathering of Christian leaders, a non-believer who was a representative of the Nepali government said the number of believers in Nepal has grown to ten percent of the nation’s population.
When BFTW began working in Nepal about 12 years ago, Pudaite says the population of believers in Nepal was only about two percent. Hearing how the population of believers has grown in the last decade was an encouragement to the team.
“It just thrilled us to know how God has been working there and that He’s let us have a little piece of this to be a part of what He’s doing there as we see so many Nepalis coming to the Lord.”
India’s Role in Religious Pressures in Nepal
Much of the growth, Pudaite says, has hinged on how bold Christians have been in sharing their faith with their local communities and how adamant they are towards India’s pressures.
“India’s big brother and at any time, if India wants to close the borders, they could pretty much cripple that country. Everything comes in from India. All of their cooking gas, all of their gasoline, diesel, so much of their building materials. All of the things that that country needs for progress and development comes from India.”
The future for the landlocked nation of Nepal is unclear right now as India is in the middle of elections.
There are five phases to the elections, which began on April 11th and will go through May. The outcome of the votes will be announced on May 23.
“If the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) stays in power in India, then they will certainly continue to put pressure on Nepal,” Pudaite says.
“But that’s why Christians in India are rallying prayer and in other ways to really get the vote out and try to vote this Hindu nationalist party out of power.”
Pudaite says the Body of Christ is coming together both in India and in Nepal because they’ve seen persecution of believers, not to mention places of worship being destroyed, under the rule of BJP.
Give strength to believers in Nepal and India by praying that the Lord will give them boldness and instate a great leader to India that will be for believers and not against them.
Header photo courtesy of Bibles For The World via Facebook.