Nepal (MNN) — Western Nepal under the rule of the Maoists has earned the title "The Wild West." It is the area least reached with the Gospel in Nepal.
The Maoists have been a source of instability within the country even after they joined the interim government earlier this year. They are now laying out demands that have permanently
postponed the elections that were scheduled for November 22. Christians unwilling to side with either the government or the Maoists have often found themselves in the crossfire.
Partners International is trying to help the fresh movement of Christianity in Nepal. They assisted the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal to build the Tikapur Training Center in
The challenge for the growing church had been a lack of training for leaders before the center was built. Now, those who train at the center often plant visionary churches. "One of the first priorities, then, of that new church is to reach the neighboring tribal groups where they have normally some kind of a kinship relationship to bring the Gospel into that group. So this is a very grassroots level kind of movement," said Tom Chandler who traveled
to the center in September.
Chandler says that in this situation, leaders who come to the training center have risen up
naturally since there are no elders to choose them.
Chandler helped with training while he visited. He met a man who was formerly a Maoists but
had become a Christian. "When he came to faith in Chris, the Maoists actually put him in a cage in the jungle for a year, and they mentally tortured him," said Chandler. The man luckily had memorized the first three chapters of the book of Colossians that he repeated over and over to maintain his strength.
Another young woman ran away from her non-Christian family to come to the center. When Chandler asked what would happen when she went home, she said, "I will be beaten, and in fact, I could be beaten very severely."
The journey to the training center is not an easy one for those who wish to attend from any distance. During Chandler's visit, there was flooding and extreme heat, not to
mention a malaria outbreak.
Chandler says that persecution is present in the west but that it often has the opposite of the intended effect. "Now that the church has begun to grow, there's been more and more of an acceptance of the fact that Christianity is going to continue there. So a little bit of the persecution has dropped off since then."