Nepal (MNN) — A bombing in Nepal's capital city highlights the nation's instability and tension as a deadline nears.
Political infighting and a stalled drafting of the country's constitution have allowed militant Hindu groups time to
push for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion. They're trying to gain traction for a referendum to decide if Nepal should remain secular.
over contentious issues–including judiciary reform and state restructuring–remain unresolved.
Danny Punnose with Gospel For Asia says the
reaction to the pace of change in Nepal is not unlike what has been happening in
neighboring Sri Lanka and India. "Any time the government is trying to figure
things out for the country–the
stability of the country and constitutional things, you are going to find that it
is a long, drawn-out process. These kinds of things where you have bombs going
off happen almost every single day."
The seemingly stalled constitution draft doesn't mean nothing is happening. In fact, it could
be quite the opposite. "They are trying to take time to really figure
things out," says Punnose. It's not every day that a nation reforms itself. However, there have been concerns over how
the re-drafted penal code could be problematic for outreach. While GFA is aware of the changes, Punnose
notes that "the church at large there will not be as affected because you have so
many believers there. And just like any other religious faith, they have some acknowledgement that they're
part of the country and they're part of the society."
2007 interim constitution in Nepal still governs the country. The assembly–tasked in 2007 to draft a new constitution by May 2010–has pushed back the
deadline several times with the latest one being May 2012.
For believers, the chaos promises challenge in the days ahead. "It does make it harder to be able to do
ministry just because there's a lot of fear and a lot of tension throughout the
entire country. So the call is for us to just pray and ask God to give us
Will a lack of official recognition by the state expose Christians
to more trouble? That depends on who you talk to. Punnose tells the people they help: "Whether the constitution is amended or
not amended, or delayed, I think more and more
people will recognize that the church at large is genuinely the hands and feet of the
Lord doing ministry to the orphans and poor and those that are
In some places, because Christians bring schools, medical care, water
wells and other life-sustaining help, opinions change. Punnose notes that GFA teams have seen a lot
of acceptance. "When you see the hands-on helping the poor, what you find
is that the church is never looked at as an outside element. Part of the country may see it as a benefit; they like Christians because they know they're the only
ones who actually care for the people that cannot be cared for by the rest of
Whether or not the assembly can meet its next deadline, Punnose
urges prayer for wisdom not only for the nation's leaders, but also for their
GFA is finding that the doors are still open. "Wherever
there are people in need, and wherever we can help them, no matter what the situation, that's our heart:
to see people helped and to see people come to know the love of Christ."
make up 2.85% of the population of Nepal, a nation that is 16%
Buddhist and 4.4% Muslim; Hindus are the majority at 75%,
according to Operation World.