Nepal (MNN) — Nepal is caught between the dragon and the elephant.
Sounds like the beginning of a folktale, but the reality is that the country is being squeezed by the politics of China and India. Nepal is a very poor country–the second poorest in Asia after war-torn Afghanistan.
Nepal is facing a humanitarian crisis due to the blockade of its border posts with India over the new secular constitution. Here’s the problem: the blockade, which is now into its second month, has severely restricted the amount of fuel and essential supplies reaching the country from India. Unrest near border areas for the last 2 months have left shortages. Lines are miles long for gas, and, with no cooking gas, many people have resorted to cooking their food over an open fire. Greg Kelley with World Mission explains how the politics trickles down to impact everyday Gospel work. “The biggest resource that is crippling the ministry outlets is the gasoline [shortage], so it makes it very difficult to get from Point A to Point B.”
Nepal relies heavily on imports from India. According to figures noted at Nepal’s embassy in New Dehli, they account for more than 60% of the total. With India closing the doors, Nepal has turned to China for help. Imports with China account for 13% in trade. China has responded by sending fuel and promising more assistance, banking on goodwill to eventually open the way for a Himalayan railway route in five years, eventually giving it access to the rest of the South Asian market.
Offending either side brings bruising consequences to Nepal, already struggling to recover from years of civil war, chaos in government, and the earthquake in April. It’s a balancing act. Kelley says the Gospel is still going forward. “The fact that they don’t have gasoline…that’s not going to discourage them or detract them. That might DELAY it a little bit, but it certainly is not going to change the agenda which is to get the Gospel to every person in the country of Nepal.” The country has slowly been opening to that message. “Just this past week, we got an amazing report of a listening group of people gathering around and listening to the Word of God: 72 people gave their lives to Christ in this one village.”
Despite the challenges mounting between instability, a fuel blockade and more, Kelley explains one main reason why their Gospel partners won’t quit. “9 out of 10 people in the country of Nepal have never heard the Gospel for the first time. When you’ve lived in that utter bondage for generations, and you get exposed to the Truth and the Life that the Gospel is all about, there’s something inside of you that that ignites.” They want to share the hope of Christ with anybody and everybody who will listen. That dedication isn’t without price. “Not having the resources, what it does, is that it takes them away from their families for a more extended period of time.” They’re hiking, biking, conveying by donkey–any way they can–the Treasures (a solar-powered audio Bibles given to oral learners in their own language) to people who have never heard God’s Word.
World Mission estimates that each Treasure is used more than 2,000 hours over the duration of its lifetime. Therefore, it is safe to say that anywhere from 100 to as many as 2,000 people will hear about Christ through each Treasure. That’s a lot of seeds planted. It’s what keeps partners moving forward.
No one knows what will happen in the days ahead as China and India struggle for power over Nepal, or what will happen when one of these massive nations loses that struggle. Kelley asks for prayer for the Nepalese Church as they continue amid challenging times. It would be easy to be discouraged. He says, “At World Mission, the manifestation of that is getting the Word of God through the Treasure into their hands. Every day, literally, we get feedback, ‘We need more Treasures so we can get them into the hands of the oral learners who have not heard the Gospel.’”
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