16 May 2024

Believers strengthened to withstand rising persecution, amid calls for Nepal to become Hindu state

Nepal’s Christians are seeing a rise in persecution (illustrative image)

Christians in many parts of India are all too familiar with the effects of Hindu nationalism. It leads to discrimination and persecution against Christians and other religious minorities – including false accusations of forced conversion and violent attacks. Now, this threat seems to be spreading to neighbouring Nepal. Your prayers and gifts are equipping Nepalese believers as they prepare for face these dangers.

Nepal’s Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) is a Hindu nationalist political party that is escalating its demand for a Hindu nation. Last month, supporters of the party led a protest rally in the country’s capital, Kathmandu, chanting a call to abolish the republic.

Earlier in the year, the RPP announced its campaign to restore the country to a Hindu nation and submitted a 40-point memorandum to the Prime Minister’s office including issues on corruption, ensuring good governance and controlling religious conversions. 

Calls for religious minorities to be closely monitored

Further, the Ministry of Home Affairs released a letter to all the District Administration Office saying they must monitor and take legal action against the people involved in religious conversion. The 2015 Constitution of Nepal prohibits evangelism and conversion from Hinduism, and this was followed three years later by an anti-conversion law that punishes conversion and evangelism with five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 Nepalese rupees (approximately £300; the average monthly salary in Nepal is about 81,000 rupees).

The letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs states, “Various individuals and organizations organize religious conferences and training programs in different districts in the name of religion propagation and conversion, and foreign citizens who participate in such religious training programs are also involved in illegal propagation and conversion of religion. As it has been found that foreign nationals are travelling without entry permit, it is requested to closely monitor the illegal activities of foreign nationals and take necessary action according to the order.”  

Rising risks and challenges for Christians 

“With this, the risks and challenges for Christians have increased,” says Mina Rai*, a local Open Doors partner. “The letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs has shaken the whole Christian community. Now, we Christians have to be cautious and alert while exercising our faith.”

“The risks and challenges for Christians have increased.” Mina Rai, Open Doors

She adds, “Nepalese Christians are suppressed both at the local and national levels. We already are witnessing violent persecution. In days to come, we might encounter many more. Now, it’s time to create awareness among the churches regarding the recent happenings and equip them for future consequences.”

One of the ways that believers are equipped is persecution survival training from Open Doors partners in the region. Since the implementation of the constitution in 2015, persecution against Christians has skyrocketed in Nepal, and this latest news is likely to make things harder. Christians anticipate even closer monitoring, harassment and attacks. Recently, police arrested four Christians in Madhesh Province, as they were sharing the gospel. Elsewhere in the same province, extremists burned the Bibles when believers were carrying them in an autorickshaw.

“Madhesh Province shares an open border with India, so it is highly influenced by the Hindus there,” explains Mina Rai. “The recent arrests further alarmed the Christian community. They are now reluctant to share the gospel. Due to this, we felt the need for persecution survival training in this province to encourage and nurture the Christians.”  

Testimonies from believers

Starting earlier this year, local Open Doors partners delivered persecution survival training in two districts of Madhesh. Some of the participants shared testimonies of the impact it is having on their faith and their life, and expressed their thanks to the people who made it possible.

“This training became a cornerstone for me to stand on.” Lalita Chaudhary

Lalita Chaudhary* converted to Christianity last year, leading to mental and physical persecution from her in-laws (her husband is no longer in contact, after going to Malaysia). They constantly threatened her to either leave the house or leave her faith – eventually throwing her and her son out.

“My father-in-law beat me and dragged me out of the house. He told me never to return,” she says. “The villagers despised me and said nothing when my in-laws persecuted me. They say that they will help me if I renounce my faith.”

Lalita works as a maid to support her son. Her day-to-day life is difficult, yet she stands firm in her faith. After attending the persecution survival training, she says, “I am very much thankful to God and Open Doors partners. It was a blessing for me. This seminar strengthens my faith. I knew that I was not alone in this persecution journey. The stories of God’s people encouraged me to depend on the Lord. This training became a cornerstone for me to stand on in times of difficult situations. Thank you!” 

Encouragement and persistence

“This seminar became like fuel for me. It encouraged me a lot to remain steadfast in my faith.” Ganesh Pahari

Bidur Khadka* agrees. He and his wife are persecuted by their family – and it was encouraging for him to learn that he’s not alone. “I’m very grateful to Open Doors partners,” he says. “Before, I wasn’t aware of persecution and persecuted Christians. I thought we were the only ones suffering. I now know that our suffering is nothing compared to those Christians who endured suffering to the point of death. It encouraged me to pray for them. I also know that persecution in Nepal is growing, and we need to stand firm in our faith. This training has equipped us well. Thank you so much and God bless you.” 

“My family also persecuted me mentally,” shares Ganesh Pahari*. “They tell me that I adopted a foreign religion and treat me badly. Nevertheless, I stand firm in my faith. This seminar became like fuel for me. It encouraged me a lot to remain steadfast in my faith no matter what situation exists. I learned that prayer is the best weapon to fight against the enemy. I learned the biblical ways to respond to the persecution. Further, I got to know the severe persecution that God’s children are facing at this time. It motivated me to continuously pray for them. Thank you.”

*Name changed for security reasons

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