Nepal (MNN) — Nepal and India have moved forward to restore ties after months of a crippling blockade. Asian Access National Director for Nepal, Sundar Thapa, says the impact was immediate and severe. “They have a shortage of food, no electricity, no fuel, no medication, and all the schools are closed.”
In fact, the Nepalese Prime Minister went to India last month to “clear the misunderstanding” between the nations. His main objective was to restore ties between the two countries, which had been strained in the wake of Nepal’s new Constitution. “People are really suffering, and people are losing hope. India keeps pressuring [Nepal] to bring back the Hindu state again,” explains Thapa. India had even delivered a list of seven amendments to make the constitution friendlier to their interests. Again, Thapa says, “India’s biggest concern is to make Nepal a Hindu kingdom.”
The scope of the economic disruption in Nepal underscored its vulnerability; and when the Himalayan nation fell into crisis, it only further inflamed anti-India sentiment. Without enough fuel, deliveries of food and shelter to vulnerable communities stopped. Schools, markets, and transportation routes have been closed for months. Thapa says, “I see people in miserable conditions. People have to walk 4 days, 5 days, even 10 days because there is no public transportation.”
As tensions with India mounted, China reopened its border with Nepal in Tibet. Some goods trickled through, but the pass between China and Nepal is mountainous and difficult to navigate. China also didn’t want to challenge India over Nepal, so wasn’t motivated to supply Nepal’s demands.
Then, as mysteriously as it began, it ended. The borders re-opened on February 3, 2016. Even with signs pointing to an end, it will take time for Nepal to recover from the impact of the blockade.
In spite of the April 2015 earthquake, Nepal’s economy was still looking forward to a recovery. However, that hope was quickly dashed. As the blockade dragged on, factories began closing. People lost jobs. Recession now looms. New priorities have emerged. “Having all these worldly things, they find no hope except in Jesus; so the churches in Nepal are growing fast,” says Thapa. “Now we are in the process of developing qualified leaders to handle the situation here.”
In the months since the blockade began, he says there has also been a marked increase in harassment and oppression for Christians. In a time when national identity has played a huge role in international politics, misinformation has plagued church workers. “Christianity is a ‘western’ religion. They could not colonize in the past, so through Christianity, they’re trying to colonize Nepal. That’s what the belief is. So Christians in Nepal suffer a lot psychologically, politically, socially. From every side, they are pressured.”
Asian Access Nepal is working to strengthen the body of Christ while also preparing future leaders to lead the country and churches. When believers ask how they can help, Thapa says, “They can pray. Secondly, they can be helpful in the resources. Thirdly, they can come and visit us and encourage us, and bring the sense of global unity–our brothers and sisters are behind us.”
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