The Church is rapidly growing in the former Hindu kingdom of Nepal, which since 2008 has been officially a secular nation. In the early 1950s there were virtually no Christians in the Himalayan country, but today it is estimated there could be as many as 1.5 million believers, or about 5% of the population, 85% of which is Hindu. A growing religious nationalism has taken root in the country, with demands for Nepal to return to a Hindu state.

A law that came into force in 2018 made it a criminal offence to attempt to convert a follower of a religion “being practised since ancient times”. This is interpreted as a religion passed down through at least three generations, thus protecting Hindus and Buddhists but excluding most Nepali Christians, who are either first- or second-generation believers. The 2018 law also bans “hurting religious sentiment”, a wording so vague that it makes almost any public Christian activity potentially “illegal”. In effect, Christians can no longer evangelise Hindus or Buddhists, or even state publicly what they believe, without risk.

A number of Christians were arrested for breaking the 2018 law in 2018-19 but at the time of writing there are no known convictions. Followers of other religions do not seem to have been arrested.

Christians are generally marginalised and treated as second-class citizens. However, there are cases of local government and MPs giving funds
to construct churches or for
Christmas celebrations.

An estimated 50,000 Nepali labourers, who had been working in Covid-infected India, hastily crossed back into Nepal in March 2020 just before India closed the border. In some places, Nepali local governments gave relief supplies to churches for distribution among the believers affected by the Covid crisis.

Christian families in remote mountain villages were given emergency food aid by Barnabas in the Covid crisis
Christian families in remote mountain villages were given emergency food aid by Barnabas in the Covid crisis

Lift up the Nepali Church that is growing in spite of opposition. Pray that pastors and other Christians will have wisdom and boldness in sharing God’s Word. Ask that Christians will stand firm in their faith, knowing that the Lord is an ever-present help in times of trouble.