Maoists Opposing Gospel Work among Ethnic Groups in Nepal

Despite facing persecution by Maoists rebels, Nepalese missionaries are continuing their work to reach isolated ethnic groups is remote, Maoist-overrun locations.
( [email protected] ) Aug 11, 2004 08:30 PM EDT

Native missionaries taking the Gospel to rural ethnic people in the mountains of Nepal are facing persecution by Maoist rebels, according to sources. However, in a recent report made by Virginia-based Christian Aid, the missionary agency reported that missionaries are continuing their work despite Maoist efforts to disrupt missionary travel and church planting.

In the land-locked nation of Nepal, the world’s only officially Hindu nation, local persecution of Christians is common, particularly to those who share their faith with Hindus. To drive those who spread the Gospel away from their “territory,” sources say the Maoist rebels have resorted to violence and force. Recently, one fellowship of believers was in the middle of a meeting when Maoists wielding guns surrounded them. But after the believers spoke with the angry mob, they eventually persuaded them not to harm anyone.

Yet this kind of animosity continues, Christian Aid reported. “Missionaries trying to reach a remote area to follow-up on new believers there were almost forced to turn back by Maoists who tried to catch them,” the agency said.

However, even in these difficult conditions, native missionaries are continuing their work, determined to reach isolated ethnic groups with the Gospel in remote locations.

“Most of these rural people live in extreme poverty, without proper health care or education, and are very much in need of Christ’s love,” the agency reported.

Although civil unrest in 1990 led to liberalization of government controls, including freedom to profess and practice any religion, proselytizing remains prohibited in the 86-percent Hindu majority nation. Those convicted of converting others face fines or imprisonment. Foreigners convicted of proselytizing can be banned from the country. Meanwhile, those who convert to religions other than Hinduism face social rejection and the possibility of violence, according to Voice of the Martyrs. Some have been forced to leave their homes.

In November 2003, the U.S. State Department urged Americans in Nepal to practice more caution and maintain a low profile after Maoist rebels made threats against U.S.-linked organizations. However, the rebel leader Prachanda, said Americans are safe in Nepal, as long as they are not part of any military operation.