by Wesley Kawato
On April 25, 2015, the ground shook and buildings rumbled; a magnitude 7.8 earthquake had hit Nepal. People ran for their lives in the city of Kathmandu as buildings crumbled. On Mount Everest 19 mountain climbers were killed by a quake-triggered avalanche. In all 8800 people died in Nepal. The quake injured thousands and left many homeless. Fear gripped Nepal. Numerous aftershocks kept people on edge. Some of the aftershocks exceeded magnitude 6.0. Experts believe one third of Nepal’s economy was destroyed by the disaster. Nepal was already one of the world’s poorest countries, and the disaster made living conditions even worse.
On May 12, 2015, a huge aftershock hit Nepal. This one was a magnitude 7.3, and the epicenter was on the same fault line that caused the April 25 quake. This quake killed 153 people in Nepal. Many of these people died when buildings damaged by the first quake collapsed.
The two quakes left many survivors in danger of death. Each fall Nepal experiences heavy monsoon rains. After that there are heavy snowstorms. Many people who had been left homeless by the first quake now lived in tents or under tarps.
At the time of the disaster Nepal’s government was in turmoil. The nation’s king had recently been deposed, and the country’s parliament was in the process of writing Nepal’s first constitution. To make matters worse, Maoist guerillas had been terrorizing the country for years.
Christian Relief Agencies Spring Into Action
Shortly after the first quake, Youth With a Mission, better known as YWAM, went to work. YWAM workers dug people out of the rubble of collapsed buildings. Later on they provided food, water, and shelter for the earthquake survivors. Another Christian relief agency active in Nepal was Samaritan’s Purse. That organization provided food, water, shelter, and medical aid for the people who had survived the earthquake.
Acts of love opened the door for Christian relief workers to talk about Jesus Christ, the only true source of salvation. Most Nepalis are Hindus or Buddhists. Only time will tell how many people these missionaries will bring to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Many Christians died in the April 25 earthquake. It had struck on a Saturday, the day of worship for Christians in that country. It flattened many churches, killing the people who had been worshipping inside. Many churches lost their pastors.
Life wasn’t easy for Nepali Christians even before the disaster. For many years Nepal has had an anti-conversion law. People who converted to Christianity could be sentenced to prison. Such people also faced many forms of persecution from their neighbors.
A Brief History of Christianity in Nepal
Catholic missionaries made the first attempt to preach the message of salvation to the Nepali people in 1628. In 1769 the King of Nepal expelled all Christians from the country. Shortly after the expulsion, Nepal closed her borders to all foreigners. That year a European Catholic priest led his 57 Nepali converts to India.
The country remained closed to foreigners until 1950. That was the year Nepal decided to develop her tourist industry. There were many foreigners eager to climb Nepal’s high mountains. Christian missionaries took full advantage of this new openness. There were fine medical mission efforts, but the Christians were not allowed to share the gospel. All they could do was post Bible verses on the walls for people to read. Before long the common people craved the spiritual riches of these foreigners who came from across the globe to help them in their times of need. Though it was illegal to embrace Christ, it began to happen anyway in this Himalayan nation.
Today Nepal has one of the fastest growing Christian populations of any country in the world. In 1951 there were no Christians in Nepal. In 1961 there were 458 Christians in that country. By 2001 there were nearly 102,000 Christians in Nepal. The 2011 census reported 375,000 Christians. Experts feel this number is conservative. Many Nepali believers are reluctant to reveal themselves for fear of being arrested. Today Christ followers make up 1.5 percent of the country’s population.
The big increase in the number of people worshipping Jesus Christ happened during the 1970s and 1980s. This revival was sparked by miracles of healing. Penbadup T. is typical of the converts from this era. In 1984 his wife became sick. Neither the Hindu shaman nor the Buddhist lama (ie, a Tibetan spiritual leader) could heal her. In desperation Penbadup carried his wife to a neighboring village, so the lone Christian living there could pray for her. Penbadup’s wife was immediately healed the moment the believer prayed for her. As a result, Penbadup put his faith in Christ. Today he is a church pastor, and all 106 families in his village worship Jesus Christ as their Savior.
The church in Nepal needs our prayers now more than ever. The recovery from the 2015 earthquakes has barely begun in Nepal. There are still many Nepalis who have yet to hear the message of salvation. Let’s remember that our prayers can change all that.
• Pray for openness in Nepal to Jesus Christ, the King of all nations.
• Pray for the defeat of rebel groups that cause turmoil in Nepal.
• Due to a quarrel between India and Nepal, India has blockaded all fuel shipments to Nepal. Ask God to lift this blockade.
• Pray that the church in Nepal would be protected from persecution. In September of 2015 Nepal adopted a new constitution, one that guaranteed religious freedom. Hinduism ceased to be Nepal’s state religion. But the new charter had an anti-conversion clause, a carry over from Nepal’s royalist past. Reports from Nepal have said that the police have stopped enforcing the anti-conversion law after the new constitution went into effect, but there is no guarantee that this will remain the case in the future.
by Keith Carey
Dear Praying Friends,
I’m starting to see a pattern. The other day I was in a place on our campus we call the “War Room” where we pray for unreached people groups. No one else came, so I picked up a GPD from 2009 about north India and started to pray through it. I read about the Bhojpuri people who are currently experiencing a movement to Christ. I read about a prayer movement in northern India started by Youth With a Mission (YWAM) that is bearing fruit today.
We have prayed for the unreached peoples in the Himalayan Mountains before. This month we will pray for many groups in the area that are unengaged, meaning that they don’t have a gospel witness at this time. But we are also praying for people groups that are experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit and being drawn to Jesus Christ. There is a monk in Nepal who was healed from a back injury sustained during last year’s terrible earthquake. As a result, Buddhist monks are now reading the Scriptures. A member of an unreached people group on India’s side of the Himalayan Mountains found the Savior, and is taking Christ’s love to Nepal. Christians are able to enter Nepal to help with the aftermath of the earthquake, and Hindus are wondering why they are willing to do this.
The question is: what spiritual breakthroughs will we see because of this month’s prayer efforts for the peoples in the Himalayan Mountains? After we pray this month, will there be new breakthroughs among the Kashmiri and Kumaoni peoples? That might depend on our faithfulness in prayer to our faithful God!