Kowloon, Hong Kong – Christian Solidarity World Wide Hong Kong hosted the World Wide Day of Prayer for Nepal Sunday at April 16-17, 2005 at Nepali Union Church with the following prayer points: peace, freedom and reconciliation, improvement of the economy, Nepalis in Hong Kong.
CSW-HK initiated this event in Hong Kong in support of CSW-UK’s call for a worldwide day of prayer. Their purpose is to intercede for Nepal given the political, economic and social climate of the country. The prayer points were prepared by CSW-HK in consultation with Nepali Union Church (NUC). CSW-HK has publicized the event in HK, while the actual prayer service was led by NUC. It was led and guided in Nepali, with English interpretation. Approximately 40 people consisting of members of NUC, Nepali Christians from other churches, and Christians of other nationalities in HK.
Nepal hit international headlines earlier this year when King Gyanendra took over the reins of government and declared a state of emergency on 1st February. Immediately, he placed mass media under strict censorship, cutting off the flow of information to the international community. About 1,000 opposition figures and journalists were placed under house arrest.
The international community responded by issuing statements opposing the one-man rule. CSW-HK urged the Christian community to intercede for Nepal using the prayer points posted on the website as reference.
"We need prayer for my country,” said Pastor Raju Baraily of Nepali Union Church in Hong Kong. Speaking to Christian Solidarity Worldwide-HK (CSW-HK), Pastor Raju said that many in Nepal are suffering because of poverty, insurgency, restricted communication, and lack of religious freedom.
"The situation in my country is deteriorating, but I know that God will do something because we pray," said Rajan Rai of the United Nepali Christian Church.
Caroline Simick of Inner City Ministries - HK said that they have scheduled prayer and fasting for Nepal, and will continue to uphold the country in prayer in the days to come.
Currently, there are around 500 Nepalis in Hong Kong who are asylum seekers and have submitted applications with the UNHCR. They sleep in the Star Ferry pier and in parks at night, for lack of any other place to stay. Many of them fled Nepal because of ongoing insurgency and the deteriorating situation in their country. Nepali residents in Hong Kong are also concerned about the education of their children.
Pastor Raju Baraily of Nepali Union Church expressed gratitude for the fact that Christians around the world have united in praying for Nepal. He also thanked Christian Solidarity Worldwide for leading this event, showing great concern for the Nepalis.
Chato Olivas-Gallo, chief executive of CSW-HK, says: "We know that God moves when His children pray. Prayer is the most important part of our ministry as we work for the religious liberty of the persecuted and oppressed."
Here are some of the fast facts:
1. Landlocked state, surrounded by mountains on its borders with India and Tibet; land area of 54,000 square km.; population of 24.7 million with 81% Hindu; 11% Buddhists; 4% Muslims; and 4% Christians. Official state religion is Hinduism.
2. The people face extreme poverty, with almost 50% of the population falling below the poverty line. Many of those who live in the mountains eat two meals a day consisting only of staple food, either corn or rice.
3. Almost half a million children work as laborers before reaching the age of 14. Some families have to borrow money to buy basic necessities like food and medicine, and children have to work in order to pay off these debts.
4. More than 100,000 Nepali girls have been sold to join the sex industry in India, and many are HIV-positive.
5. “Christian denominations are few but growing. Christian leaders estimate the number of Christians at approximately 400,000, which is higher than the official government estimate. Press reports indicate that 170 Christian churches operate in Kathmandu alone”. (US State Department Report, 2004) Christians face discrimination in employment; churches cannot be registered with the government or own property; religious conversion is punishable by imprisonment (CSW-UK)