Nepal (MNN) — Nepal had their first local elections in 20 years this past Sunday, May 14th, marking renewed efforts to establish themselves in the modern world. The vote tallying for phase one in the elections is currently ongoing. The second phase of voting will occur on June 14th.
Greg Kelley with World Mission says change in Nepal is slow-going as generations and ethnic groups clash — and even change on the religious freedom front has been a struggle.
“Nepal is really trying to move into that place of religious freedom, but there’s a lot of challenges to that. For generations, it’s been a Hindu nation. So the persecution, interestingly, comes very much from a localized standpoint. What I mean by that is, when you give your life to Jesus in Nepal, it’s really your family where you feel the fiercest persecution. They will essentially ostracize you from the community.”
According to the CIA World Factbook, 1.4 percent of Nepalis identify as Christians out of the nation’s 29 million people. Kelley says, “We know the Church is much larger than that, but irregardless, it’s very small. So I think just from a priority standpoint, Nepal is filled with unreached people groups and it needs to be a priority for the Body of Christ.”
Besides persecution, one other reason why ministry in Nepal can be difficult is that the country is marked by drastic terrains, including the Himalayas. Missionaries can have a challenging time getting through to hard-to-reach communities.
“It’s situated right in between India to the south and then China to the north, which makes it kind of landlocked and hard to get at. But the Lord has just been doing amazing things in Nepal in the last 20 years, and I think it’s no coincidence that it kind of coincides with their efforts to more embrace democracy.”
World Mission distributes about 1,500 units of their solar-powered audio Bible called the Treasure in Nepal each year. The Treasure comes loaded with Scripture in the Nepali language and other national dialects, and every year they see amazing responses to the Gospel.
“That starts in a listening group environment. So for World Mission, we’ll distribute one Treasure and that will go into the hands of a group of people about the size of 12. Then they’ll begin listening to the Gospels and our team members on the ground will follow up with them,” says Kelley.
“We just received word back a few days ago of a brand new church that was established just from a listening group of the Treasure. Now these new Christians are coming together, they’re growing in fellowship with one another. But the reality is for most of them, their families will essentially disown them. So they, believe it or not, in their infancy in Jesus, are now launching themselves into kind of a missionary movement reaching out to their family members who are persecuting them. And that’s really evidence of the love of Jesus manifesting itself in places like Nepal.”
Sometimes, however, a community isn’t initially open to the Gospel message coming in. Or a village may have immediate physical needs that need to be met before they will readily hear the Good News of their spiritual Savior.
Often, the biggest need in a community is clean drinking water. Kelley says, “There’s lots of water available in Nepal run-off from the Himalayan Mountains, so it’s not an issue of access to water, but it’s filled with bacteria.”
World Mission has a ministry division called Zoe Waters. Through Zoe Waters, they install water filtration systems in Nepal.
“We just did a very large water filtration installation…. These water filtration units that we put in these communities have literally become a lifeline, and we combine that with our Treasure distributions.”
Doing so earns them an audience with the community, and then they simply let the Holy Spirit do the work of convicting hearts once the Gospel is presented.
During this quickening time of change and transition in Nepal, the stability of Christ is needed now as much as ever. It costs $40 for World Mission to send in one Treasure in the Nepali language. Click here to support World Mission!
And especially, Kelley asks you to pray. “We really appreciate people praying for us and Nepal, because our network of national leaders have such an amazing task and opportunity ahead of them. We just encourage people to pray for national leaders to grow in their own depth and their journey with Jesus…and also for safety, and just for the Lord to help us send more Treasures.”