Nepal’s republic opens doors, elections may close them

By September 14, 2007

Nepal (MNN) — Unusual things are happening in Nepal.

Matt Williams worked with an agency in Nepal for 21 years before moving to the U.S. He took two trips there this summer: one in June and the most recent one in July. 

The June trip was a backpacking trip in which their goal was to distribute literature to people living in the mountains. It was also the first place where Williams noticed signs of change. "When we showed books about Jesus, it seemed like everybody was saying, ‘Oh yeah. We want to know more." Some of them were even saying, ‘Do you have a New Testament? Do you have a Bible?'"

Williams continues: "What I thought was unusual is not the fact that people have been open, because it seems like there's been increasing openness in the last decade or more. It's just
that here are people who've had some contact about Jesus, about the faith, and are not turned away, but are saying 'I really want to know more.'" 

During the August trip, the local team visited an ancient marketplace in Kathmandu. "There in the midst of all that (with granted permission to do so) was a team doing an open air drama and preaching. As far as I know, that is the first time that has ever occurred in that location." 

Williams credits recent social turmoil and dissatisfaction with Hinduism as forces pushing people toward the Gospel. "There's ongoing political turmoil. Democracy hasn't worked out. So it's just like every ‘ism,' every hope they've
had, has just died. And here's Jesus, and they're saying, ‘Let's embrace Jesus.'"

In April 2006, the dissatisfied people of Nepal rose up and brought power back to the people.
At this time, the Maoist guerillas, who caused much fighting in the mountains, signed a peace agreement and joined forces with political parties.

"They cast out the notion that Nepal is a Hindu kingdom. Now it's a secular government. So if you have a secular state, then every religion should have freedom to
practice what they believe," said Williams. Christians are taking advantage of this time.

However, they are awaiting the November elections to see if the doors will stay open. 

Williams says there are two possible outcomes. The first is that Maoists could gain power in
the government, which would upset many people who are fed up with them. The second possibility is that another political party wins. "That has Maoists afraid because really all they want is power. They don't really care about the wishes of the people," said Williams. If they gain no power, Maoists have said they will resort to other means.

"The opportunity to see what God is doing in that nation is a tremendous, tremendous privilege. If you get a chance, go. If you can't go, then pray," Williams said.

Williams says the church is young and needs prayers that they'll step out and stand strong so "that it not become a church that is a mile wide but an inch thick, but becomes a mile wide and a mile deep."

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