Nepal’s Christians are in need of your prayers and support in the face of increased persecution over recent weeks and months. This persecution is largely at the hands of Hindu extremist groups aiming to turn Nepal into a Hindu state again. These groups have close ties with Hindutva groups in neighbouring India. In addition, the government of Nepal is limiting freedom of religion and in 2017 it introduced new anti-conversion laws.
As an Open Doors partner says, “Any Christian talking about Christianity can be falsely accused of conversion activities now. This has happened several times." Please continue to pray for those being accused under these new laws, and that these laws would not stop people from hearing about Jesus.
Church demolished and hospital attacked
This persecution has included the destruction of Batase Prayer Tower in June 2019, as reported by another Open Doors partner: “The church leaders had permission from Forest Ministry officials before building; permission was granted and a church was built. But the authorities destroyed it suddenly, without any prior notice. They didn't even allow anyone to take pictures or videos."
In late June, representatives of the Shiv Sena Nepal political party forcefully entered Ananda Ban Hospital, which is run by a Christian NGO called The Leprosy Mission. The leader of Shiv Sena, Manoj Sapkota, falsely accused the hospital of converting people to Christianity in exchange for free treatments. Some 30 Bibles were burned and the hospital staff are now fearful of further attacks.
Christianity is on the rise
But - praise God! - Christianity in Nepal has been on the rise in recent decades. Conversion was decriminalised in the 1990s (though proselytism remained illegal at the time), and a major change happened when the government became a secular state in 2008. Various changes to the constitution had made the growth of the church easier, and the country is now home to more than 8,000 Christian churches and over a million converts to Christianity. That’s about four per cent of the population.
Minority groups like the Dalits and the Kirats have been particularly drawn to Christianity. According to the Federation of National Christians in Nepal, Dalits make up 60 per cent of all Christians in the country. Dalits have historically been excluded from Nepal’s centuries-old caste system, and they are still ostracised as ‘Untouchables’; many are discovering that there is no caste discrimination in God’s eyes, ‘for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28).
Persecution is also on the rise
The anti-conversion laws of August 2017 have been a challenge to this increase in believers. Converting people is now a punishable offence, and there are a growing number of attacks against Christians in Nepal (which is currently number 32 on the Open Doors World Watch List). The number of violent incidents is rather lower than in neighbouring India, but Open Doors persecution analysts have recently reported threats, arrests, physical harassment, damage to churches and property and the expulsion of Christians from other countries.
Your prayers and support mean that Open Doors can continue to work through church partners and volunteers in Nepal. Those partners offer legal support, training for church workers and others, livelihood and community development, and church materials, among other activities. Your support is helping give hope to the church in Nepal, which is growing despite facing new obstacles.
- For protection for Christians and their places of worship, in the face of increased persecution
- That hospital workers at Ananda Ban Hospital will feel safe and equipped to serve their community
- That Open Doors partners will reach those in need with practical and spiritual support.