A Christian who was shot for his faith while returning home from an Easter service has said that while he's still traumatized from the horrific event, he believes God will eventually "free" him of ongoing "psychological fear."
In April, Santosh Khadka was shot in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal while he was returning home from an Easter service. Police have not been able to identify the attackers, but local Christians believe he was targeted by Hindu extremists because of his religious-freedom work.
Three months later, Santosh has physically recovered from his wound, but remains mentally traumatized.
"Physically I'm fully recovered," he told World Watch Monitor, "I've just got a mark of three or four centimeters over here. I'm not getting any [sensation]. It is [without any sensation]. Maybe the vein or the nerve may be disconnected. And I think it will be healed in the coming days. I hope so; God will heal this wound very soon. I don't have any complication with my wound.
"But psychologically, I'm a little bit disturbed. When I walk on the street alone, if somebody came behind me, I'd be shocked. I would turn and look who is he, why is he coming? But I'm an optimistic person, so I think God will make me free of that psychological fear also."
The Federation of National Christian, Nepal, where Khadka works as an office secretary, called the shooting a "cowardly act" and an attack on "the whole Christian community".
WWM notes that two days after the attack, unidentified men set fire to the vehicles of one of the biggest Catholic churches in Nepal, Assumption Church in Kathmandu.
Khadka told WWM that given the chain of events, the attack was undoubtedly due to his Christian work.
"It is communal violence because, the day after my incident, the same group ... I think the same group ... burnt the vehicles of a Catholic church, the Assumption Church [in Kathmandu]," he said. "[Some Hindu] majority groups always want to suppress us, and they want to discourage us."
Khadka added, "Two days after [the incident], our office organized a press meet. It was a national press meet. And it was organized to pressure the government to give safety for the Christian community, and to provide protection for the churches."]
According to persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, Nepal shows "increasing signs of becoming a more Hindu nationalistic nation" opposed to the growth and influence of Christianity. Hinduism reigns as the primary religion - out of Nepal's population of 28 million, Christians make up less than 1.5 percent.
In 2007, the former Hindu kingdom adopted a new constitution that declared the country a secular state, angering Hindu nationalist groups. In 2015, Nepal passed a charter recognizing only partial religious freedom, banning evangelism, and calling for the protection of Hinduism.
Nevertheless, some Hindu extremist groups still claim that Hinduism is under threat due to the possibility of more conversions to Christianity. Last September, Hindu extremists warned all foreign Christian missionaries to leave the country, accusing them of "corrupting" the nation.
However, Nepal has one of the fastest-growing Christian populations in the world, tripling to more than 300,000 in the past 10 years, according to the World Christian Database, which tracks global trends in Christianity.
Dyann Romeijn of Vision Beyond Borders told Mission Network News: "There is a lot of growth in Christianity taking place in these countries and I do believe we'll see an uptick in those numbers. Sometimes it's difficult for people to claim to be Christians in countries like this in regular reporting because it puts them at greater risk."