Nepal (MNN) — On August 15, anti-conversion legislation went into effect in Nepal. Two years ago, Christians were included in a rewrite of the country’s constitution, but now, anti-Christian movements are gaining boldness and ramping up persecution efforts at alarming speed.
John Pudaite of Bibles For The World says that though Nepal is technically a “Hindu kingdom” and despite pressure from “very strong pro-Hindu forces in the country,” the country does allow for freedom of religion. However, these new laws severely restrict that freedom.
“Those who are Hindu can follow Hinduism, and those who are Muslim or Buddhist can follow their religion, and Christians likewise, but they are not allowed to convert from one religion to another,” Pudaite says.
Attempting to convert someone to another religion can lead to fines, prosecution, and even imprisonment. Whether you’re Muslim or Christian or Hindu or Buddhist or anything else, you’re expected to stay that way.
And the bad news doesn’t end there. Bibles For The World has been working in Nepal for six years, which means they have many partners on the ground who they keep in contact with. Those partners have been reporting foreboding developments.
“Even after the bill was passed by the parliament in Nepal [but before it was enacted], they had already started seeing things step up in terms of persecution,” Pudaite says.
Nepalese pastors have been arrested, and the laws have proven to be problematic even for visitors to Nepal.
“Foreigners are involved, too. This may be Indians, Americans, whoever they are. They can be arrested, prosecuted there, and will be deported after they serve their jail time.”
Many ministries have had their work out in jeopardy, and the local Church is desperately waiting to see “how this will be implemented on the ground”.
Missionaries from India have been arrested and are facing trial, an Indonesian pastor has already been deported, and anti-Christian groups are growing in boldness and aggression. Yet partners are standing strong in their faith.
Pudaite quotes an unnamed partner as saying: “We’re determined to continue the works of the Lord whether or not the government continues to allow us to operate.”
In other words, the Nepalese Church is not going to give up. “They’re not going to waver. They’re going to keep pushing ahead to build the kingdom of Jesus Christ in Nepal,” Pudaite says.
Pray for the Church as the situation develops.
“We just would like all the Christians in listening range in America to join with us in praying for the boldness of Christians in Nepal, for Christian organizations, and for their workers,” Pudaite says. “Pray for God’s continued protection over them and His grace over that entire country as they continue to do the work of the Lord.”
Pudaite is taking a trip to Nepal to check in on partners in October and November. Pray for wisdom and courage as Bibles For The World monitors the situation in Nepal, and consider supporting their work by clicking here.