Mission Update: Nepal

Native missionaries in Nepal report that their evangelistic work has been inhibited due to the tense political situation following the murder of 12 Nepali hostages in Iraq.
( [email protected] ) Sep 08, 2004 11:29 AM EDT

On August 31, an Islamic militant group released video footage of the executions of 12 Nepali men. Contracted by a Jordanian business to do work in Iraq, the men had been held hostage for a little more than a week. The incident has sparked outrage among Nepalis in recent days, exacerbating an already tense situation that began recently with Maoist rebel attacks within Kathmandu. Protesters have vandalized and gutted the agency offices that sent Nepali workers to Iraq. They blocked off roads with burning tires and other debris, causing a virtual shutdown of the capital city.

Mission leaders said that gospel work has been slowed in recent days. Numerous meetings had to be canceled. Students were unable to attend a Bible college. A training session for mission workers had to be called off. One missionary wrote, "A country once known as peaceful is just a dream now."

Insurgent Maoists are fighting to make Nepal a communist state. More than 9,000 lives have been lost since the conflict began in 1996.

Meanwhile, a native Gospel for Asia missionary only identified as Besh has been freed from the Maoist group that abducted him in Nepal in mid-August. "Another missionary had been sent to search for him, but in the meantime Besh was safely returned, physically unharmed," said a website report. "This is nothing short of a miracle when we consider that Maoists in this district typically kill those they abduct. We appreciate your prayers for this brother in Christ throughout his ordeal. Give thanks to the Father for his protection and release. Pray for His comfort and healing as he recovers from the experience and continues evangelizing the unreached."

The land-locked nation of Nepal between China and India is the world's only officially Hindu nation, with eighty-six percent of the population being Hindu and only 0.6 percent Christian.

Civil unrest in 1990 led to liberalization of government controls, including freedom to profess and practice any religion, but not to proselytize. Despite this official policy, local persecution of Christian is common, particularly to those who share their faith with Hindus.