Nepal grinds to a halt under a general strike; believers are wary.

By April 9, 2004

Nepal (MNN)–Nepal is coming back to life today at the end of a three-day strike called by Maoist rebels.

Beginning Tuesday, nearly all shops, schools, businesses and factories remained closed. Streets were empty of all vehicles except ambulances, state cars and police vans.

The few private vehicles on the street covered identifying plates or stickers for fear of being singled out and attacked by the rebels. Government employees were seen walking or cycling to their offices due to the absence of public transport.

The tensions are growing stronger under the calm before the storm that broke with the abduction of hundreds of villagers.

The violence has plagued efforts toward stability, amid rumors of religious oppression. Interserve’s Cynthia Hale says while believers have been persecuted, this is not a sectarian war. “I am not aware that this present violent situation is directed against Christians in particular. It’s between Maoist Communist insurrectionist movement and the government forces. Anyone caught in between may suffer, but it’s not directed against the Christians.”

Hale explains that the unrest makes it difficult to travel, but has little effect on the church itself. “The Interserve teams participate in the local fellowships of Christians, wherever they happen to be, and those local fellowships have not disbanded, or had to go underground, anymore than they always have been.” That’s encouraging news, bolstered by this report. Hale says, “As I understand it, the kingdom of God continues to grow in the hearts of people.”

Pray for those involved with outreach in Nepal during this time of unrest. A worldwide Day of Prayer For Nepal has been announced by the Nepali churches for Saturday and Sunday, April 17 and 18.

Nepalis meet on Saturday for their weekly worship because it is the only holiday day in Nepal. In addition, official permission has been obtained for a peaceful Christian Youth Motorcycle Prayer Rally on the Ring Road that surrounds the capital, culminating in a massive prayer rally in one of the churches.

(Stuti Prasamsa Church) Please pray that the flare-up of roadblocks does not prevent this rally. Details for all this are available on their website, including a list of prayers to use on these special days of prayer for Nepal.

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