Nepal is a beautiful Himalayan kingdom known as the country of Mount Everest, the birth place of Gautam Buddha who is the lord of Buddhists and the only Hindu nation in the world. The country is sandwiched between India and China. It could be very interesting to know how the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ was spread in such a tiny mountainous kingdom. So, it is profitable to know the Christian historical information and the present activities of the Churches in Nepal.
The main aim of this article is to present how the Gospel came into this country and how God provided His grace to continue His work of expanding His Kingdom to His people through suffering, hardship, and persecutions.We always keep in our mind that the history impacts us in present time. The Church history of Nepal has great value as an explanation of the present. We can understand the present much better if we have at least some knowledge of its roots in the past. Since the kingdom of Nepal was under the monarchic rule for about two hundred years, it is known as Dark Age of Christianity in Nepal. Christianity was banned until 1990 and it was unthinkable to evangelize by preaching the Gospel openly into this nation. But the work of God was rapidly growing in the country by the means of underground Churches. These underground Churches used to have worship services secretly at night in those days.
This country is sandwiched between two large countries India and China. I have already noted in the introduction that this country is known as the country of Mount Everest, birth place of Buddha and has never been colonized by any foreign country. This country is also known as the country of Gurkhas.Nepal is located within 26'12 N - 30'27 N latitude and 80'04 E - 88'12 E longitude. It is a landlocked country. The nearest seaport is Calcutta in India which is 500 km. from the country. The altitude range of the country is from the 70 m. (230 ft) above sea level in the Terai (south Nepal) to 8848 m. (29,028 ft) at Sagarmatha (Mt.Everest). The Katmandu valley, which is the capital of Nepal, is located in 1330 m. altitude. The shape of this country is roughly rectangular covering 147,181 sq. km. with an east-west length of 885 km. and a south-north average width of 193 km. Geographically, this country is divided into three broad physiographic areas; The Mountain Region, which is the north, The Hill Region, which is the middle and The Terai Region is the south. There are 3914 VDC (village development committee), and 58 Municipalities. There will be 9 to 13 wards in each VDC, and 15 to 35 wards in each Municipality.
Nepal has never been under a colonial political situation. Though it has been practicing its own political systems, the country has gone through many different types of political stages in the past and in the present, also.The monarchy system has been developed and practiced from the birth of the nation. Politically, the country has been divided into five regions; 1) East Region, 2) Center Region, 3) Western Region, 4) Mid/ West Region, and 5) Far Western Region. There are 14 Zones and 75 Districts. This country has been passing through the Panchayat System which is direct rule of the king then Multi Parties Democratic System where there was constitutional monarchy.In the end of 2004, the king took the political power back to himself. But right now the people's movement is growing and it is in the process of developing towards the republican form of government.
3. Religious & Social
Nepal is a multi-cultural nation where we can see multi-tribal people live harmoniously. The north part of Nepal is influenced by Tibetan Culture and the south part of the country is influenced by Indian Culture. Though there are many different religious people in this country, the majority are Hindus which covers almost 80.6% of total population while 10.7% are Buddhist, 4.3%are Islam, 2% are Christianity and, 2.4% are other tribal religions.According to the government of Nepal, the official status shows the percentage of Christian population is 0.5 of the total population. The 2001 census identified 87% of the population as Hindu while Buddhism was practiced by about 11% of the population (although many people labeled Hindu or Buddhist practice a synergetic blend of Hinduism, Buddhism and or animist tradition). About 4.2%of the population is Muslim, 3.6% Kirat and 0.5% Christian." The population of the country is 27.1 million but the Hindu has 330 million gods. There are forbidden to eat any kind of beef in Hinduism. The reason for this is, the cow is regarded as the symbol of motherhood and fruitfulness, and also it is their belief that the cow is the Laxmi which means the god of wealth. There are Islam and Buddhist and some other local and tribal religions in Nepal.
Although Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom of the world, it has always been known for its cultural diversity. 2 % of the total population (over 550,000) follows Christianity, according to NCFN (National Churches Fellowship of Nepal). Why is there so much different data about Christian in Nepal? The government of Nepal does not want to show the numbers of Christianity, I do not know what is the reason, but there could be two main reasons; one is the government officers do not want to show the growth of Christians because the percentage of Christian is growing vary fast and the number of Hindu is loosing which the government does not want to show publicly. While taking census they did not write accurately. The second reason could be the Christian themselves did not want to tell that they are Christian because of fear of the community and government. The Hindu sees the Christianity as a foreign, cow-eating religion and also for the past years Nepal's mass media has launched an extensive campaign against Christian, accusing them of destroying the Nepalese culture. The country of Nepal comes under the category of poor in the world, the country has to depend on agriculture because 85% people are involved in agriculture, 3% people are in industry, 11% people are in services and 1% of people are in other works.
HOW THE CHRISTIANITY CAME INTO NEPAL:
Before democracy (1990), Nepal generally remained a closed land for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During this time, however, God had been working to raise faithful people to bring the Gospel to Nepal. Many Christian around the world prayed for Nepal. The work of the ground preparation was continued and the time came when nothing could stop the driving force of the Gospel. As Isaiah 43:13 says, "Yes, and from ancient days I am He. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?" and also, the apostle Paul says in Romans , "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of every one who believes."
1. Arrival of First Missionary in Nepal:
Before the 16th century, there is neither any recorded or any Christian heard of in Nepal. History tells us that before 16th century the Tibet did not belong to China but it was independent. At that time, if any European missionary or business man wanted to go to Tibet they had to go through the way of Nepal. The Jesuits, a band of Christian teachers with a missionary calling, were well established in India and looking towards Tibet in 1579, when they were first invited to north India by Grand Mogul Akbar. With the way thus opened into north India, in the 1600s they began to use the mountain kingdom of Nepal as passageway for their Tibetan Mission.In those days there were many ways to enter into the Tibet but the history does not tell us which way they went to Tibet. However, 1628 marks the first recorded date of any Christian, or of any non-Asian, entering Katmanduvalley of Nepal. Father Joan Cabral, Jesuit priest of the south Tibet Mission, passed through on his return from Shigates, Tibet to Bengal, India. His letters tell only that he was well received by the king of Nepal who was probably curious to learn more about these strange foreigners. We see some of the evidences that there were Catholic priests in Nepal with the contact of the kings but we do not have any evidences of conversion or mission work during that time.
Two Catholic priests were on the journey from Peking to Rome and trekked into Katmandu on Christmas Eve of 1661. While there, an unusual encounter with the ruler of Katmandu, Pratap Malla, birthed a vision for Nepal in their hearts. To their utter surprise, the Raja (King) met with them and promised that if one of the Christian teachers would return to his kingdom he would provide a house and give full leave to preach the Christian faith.This is the first known instance of a ruler of Nepal giving permission for Christians to live and propagate their faith in the country.
2. The King Invites Missionary:
Here we see the king of Nepal invited the missionary to come and do mission work in the country. As a result of the visit of missionary with king, the door was opened for work of evangelism. What was the reason for the king to open the door for the missionaries? The king there (Cadmendu (sic) was a powerful monarch. the king welcomed the fathers very warmly, perhaps because of a telescope which was up to that time unknown in Necba (sic), and other mathematical instruments.In fact, the king of Nepal did not want to open the door for missionaries but he opened it just for purpose of receiving the telescope and other mathematical instruments.
Father Ful Sentius Vennin writes that a team of Capuchin Fathers; Father Francis Mary and another five from the Roman Catholic Church were sent under the ?Congregation of Propaganda' mission agency to start Tibet mission. Two of these fathers came and remained in Kathmandu on 21st February 1707.But because of sickness they could not live there for long time so after their
short visit up to the Tibet they went back to India again. The historical records tell us some more about the entrance of non-Asian Christian.In 1715 the first mission in the Valley of Nepal (Kathmandu) was established with two Capuchins in residence. Although still considered a support to the Lhasa work, the Nepali station began to develop into a mission in its own right. Christian, albeit, foreigners, were resident in Nepal for the first time.As these missionaries began their main goal of preaching the Gospel in Kathmandu, some of the Brahmins were offended and they put missionaries into prison. Father Francis Horace was immediately cast into prison for 4-5 months. He reported to Rome that this was instigated by the Brahmins. The Christian's property was confiscated, but they endured it firmly, together with the violence they were put to, the threats and also flatteries used to make them renounce the faith.By this time there were a few Nepali converts, when the fathers faced difficulty in Kathmandu they moved to Bhaktapur which is another small kingdom ruled by another Malla king. They all, including local Nepali Christians, went toBhaktapur in 1722.
The king, Ranjit Malla, welcomed the Fathers and Nepali Christians in to his kingdom and according to Devi Prasad Sharma, this following letter were written by King Ranjit, "The Capuchin Fathers are commanded to preach and teach their religion and train our people in Christian religion. Our people can accept that religion with out fear. We will not give any trouble to the fathers, and will not give any hindrance to preach the Christianity."Though there were much support from this king the missionaries had to face many difficulties from the society. Because of difficult circumstances and lack of replacements, all the Fathers left Nepal in 1734. The few Nepali Christians who were converted by the Capuchin Fathers also felt like orphans and they requested the Capuchin Fathers not to leave them but due to the difficulty they left.
Within three years, however, the Capuchins recognized and a team was looking for an opportunity to get into the Kathmandu. When the kings from Kathmandu and Bhaktapur knew it, they sent a letter with delegates requesting them to return to Kathmandu. They arrived in Nepal again and received a large house in Bhaktapur and were granted a written decree of liberty of conscience on 18th November 1737. The king of Kathmandu also released same decree for the missionaries. Therefore the Capuchins were back in the Valley with unprecedented freedom to live and preach their Christian faith. At this time, the Gospel was well received by the people and many heard the Gospel. During the next few years ten adults were converted to Christianity through the Church in Kathmandu, and in Bhadgaon 30 people accepted Christ and came to the Church. Father Joseph of Rovato called them, "the best Christians in the whole mission. poor, honest, God-fearing and hard working."The growth of Christianity was bright in Nepal at that time, fathers were busy preaching the Gospel, baptizeing the people and also they did some medical work among the sick people. The missionaries had also leant the Newari language.The priests were given full authority to preach Christianity and even build a church, somewhere in Lalitpur District. According to Dr. Simon Pandey in his book Christianity in Nepal, the first Church in Nepal was dedicated in 1760 and another church, called Annunciation of Our Lady, was also built at Bhaktapur.
3. The King Cast Out Missionary:
In the middle of 17th century, Prithivi Narayan Shaha became the king of Gorkha, a small mountain kingdom west of the KathmanduValley. He was a man of unusual leadership and organizing ability. When the king of Gorkha looked upon the Nepal (Kathmandu) valley, he decided to fight against those city-states and unite them all into one strong Kingdom, which would benefit the Nepalese. The British government was becoming stronger in India and the fear of Prithivi Narayan Shah was one day British could come and capture Nepal. Therefore, he fought with all three city-states which were within Kathmandu valley and captured them in AD 1769. The consolidation of Nepal through king Prithivi Narayan Shah was successful. And then, "the Nepali language became the lingua franca, uniting the diverse peoples, although those in the valley largely retained their native Newari. The nation also became the reflection of the clear Hindu character of its founders, becoming the only Hindu kingdom in the modern world."
But the new king was not ready to lead his nation into the wider world, perhaps perceiving that it would be all too easily swallowed up by larger neighbors.He closely watched the growing of British colonialism in India and he determined to preserve Nepal's sovereignty. So, when he conquered Nepal he then expelled the priests and the group of Christians, accusing them of being agents of European colonial power. "In 4th February 1769 all the priests including 60 Nepali Christians got official permission to leave the country and they left under the leadership of the Father Joseph of Ravato. And they went down to North India and settled in the town of Bettia."The policy of King Prithivi Narayan shah regarding foreigners and Christians was strictly enforced. No foreigners were allowed to enter the country. It was forbidden for any Christians, whether foreigners or nationals, to live in the country. Nepal thus became a ?ClosedLand' for the Gospel of Jesus Christ for almost 221 years (AD 1769-1990). These 221 years was called ?the Dark Age of Christianity in Nepal'.
THE CONSTANT WORK OF MISSION FOR NEPALESE:
While Nepal was closed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God was still at work preparing the ground through His people across the boarder and across the sea. He had not closed His mission for Nepal. I believed that God raised such men and women who heard His voice and were obedient to carry His gospel forward. "The mission was undertaken some times by individuals, sometimes by Churches, and sometimes by organizations."
The Church in Nepal was closed but Lord Jesus Christ established his Churches among the Nepalese outside the country in Bhutan, India, in Sikkim, in Nagaland, in Burma and so on.The small number of Christians brought out side the country with Capuchin fathers had great opportunity to be trained and be sent as missionaries to the Nepali speaking area around the north east India and into Bhutan and Burma. It was God's plan too bring them outside the country and prepared them for the inland mission work. In 1795 ?the Bootan Mission' was established and mainly the Nepalese were reached with the Gospel.In 1870 churches were established in Darjeeling and in Sikkim among the Nepali and Lepcha. In 1841 the Assam Mission was established to reach out to the Nepalese and Assami. In 1895 to 1912 there were many Churches established in Meghalaya, in Nagaland among the Nepali people. In 1940 many Churches were established in Mizoram and the first Nepali Fellowship called Nepali Christian Fellowship was formed under the leadership of Padam Lal Adhikari.In 1862, the missionaries worked among the Nepali in Burma. Though the door for the Gospel was closed in Nepal, His work among the Nepali was not closed as hundreds churches were established among the Nepalese around the boarder and other parts of India.
Before the door of Nepal opened for foreigners to enter, missionary work was started in the Indian boarders near by Nepal. "The work was started as early as 1921 and the Nepalese going to India and coming back to Nepal were preaching and evangelizing right on the boarder. Through the work of these boarder-based missionaries, within a short period of time few people became Christian." However, some of the Nepalese and mission agencies also had played a significant role for bringing the Gospel in Nepal as first generation.In the 17th and early 18th century, God brought the Catholic missionaries into Nepal and did some mission work and sowed the seed of the Gospel in the land. Now, 20th century, God was preparing the Protestant missionaries to go into the Nepal.
1. Church of Scotland: God was raising his missionaries to bring the Gospel to the nations. To carry the Gospel forward to this nation God had used missionaries, "The beginning of the NepaliChurch in Darjeeling came through the pioneering efforts of Rev. William Macfarlane, a missionary of the Church of Scotland in 1868." Those days the Church of Scotland started their ministry with the education (Schooling) in Darjeeling which is on the boarder to Nepal. This education center opened the door for many Nepalese to come in and do studies. In this school, which was from nursery to college level, provided a place for every Nepalese who wanted to study. As we know, education is a vital part of the mission because every person will be able to read and study the Bible. And the most important thing in this school was that they had Bible study in every class. Through this mission work many people from Nepal became Christian.
2. Gorkha Mission: The Nepali Christian in Darjeeling was inspired to form the Gorkha Mission in 1892. And the main objectives of this mission were to preach the Gospel inside Nepal. Every day and night Nepali evangelists used to preach the Gospel in Nepali to those who were coming and going to the nation. Through this missionary work many people came to know the Lord.
3. Ganga Prasad Pradhan: Ganga Prasad Pradhan played a very significance role in the church history of Nepal. He was born on 4th July 1851 in Kathmandu to a Newari family. He was active and intelligent person. He got admitted to the mission school, and learned English and at the same time learned the Bible. After reading the Bible he accepted Christ, then many times he went to Nepal to preach the Gospel and also he tried to stay in Nepal but he was not allowed by the prime-minister at that time, Mr. Chandra Shamser Rana, and he was compelled to return to India. It was God's plan for him to go back to India because after some years, "he became a scholar and recognized writer. He published many books in Nepali that were used in schools. His special assignments with the Bible Society lasted 25 years, producing a Bible translation; he translated the Nepali Bible in 1914."
4. Sadhu Sunder Singh: Not only the Nepali played a significant role in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Nepal, but a man from India, Punjab, who belonged to a Sikh family, found Jesus through a special vision while he was young, and prepared to reach out to the Nepali with the Gospel. Sadhu Sunder Singh came to Nepal in 1914. As he entered Nepal he started preaching in the district of Ilam to all kinds of people whom he met. Many people heard the Gospel and believed him and soon this was reported to the authorities and he was arrested and put into prison. Even in the prison he preached the Gospel to the prisoners. So, after some time he was released and asked to go back to India.
5. Sadhuni Chanra Leela: God not only raised men but even He had raised women like Sadhuni Chandra Leela, to play a vital role in the preaching the Gospel to the Nation. She was born in Kathamndu in 1840 as a daughter of a royal priest, married at the age of seven and became widow at the age of 9. At the age of 9, she started the journey of a pilgrim in many famous ancient temples of India to get peace, but she never found it. She felt hopeless, but one day she was in a home in India where a little girl was reading the Bible, she also had an interest to read it. Chandra Leela read it and God's truth was revealed to her. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and Lord and was full of joy. She went back to Kathmandu and shared the Good news. She became a channel of blessings for many people to know Christ. The Rana rules did not allow her to live in Nepal so she had to go back to India.
We see here for almost 54 years the first Christian missionaries in Nepal, the Capuchin Fathers had their ministry in KathmanduValley, where the three Malla Kingdoms allowed them under the royal decrees of liberty of conscience. But they lived very hard lives. They preached the Gospel in many places and about sixty people became Christians. Though Capuchin Fathers and Nepali Christians were sent out from the country, God established many Nepali Churches around north east India andraised many more Nepalese and foreigners to proclaim His word to the nation. This was the period of preparation for the Gospel into Nepal. God raised many servants to be prepared and trained for the ministry of His Gospel to take into the land of Nepal.
OPEN DOOR FOR MISSIONS:
As the Rana regime came to an end and the new democratic government came to power, the door was opened to foreign missionaries to help develop schools, hospitals, industries, training centers and hydro-electricity. It was an answer of prayer because Nepalese from India and other foreigners were praying for many years for Nepal. Then a few missionaries came in to the country and began to work for God. There are few who did very significant work in Nepal for the propagation of the Gospel.
1. Nepal Evangelistic Band (NEB, now INF): This mission was working on the Indian boarder at Nautanwa for some years, and looking for an opportunity to go into Nepal. Dr. Lily and Miss Ililda Steel, missionaries from Britain and Ireland, had founded this in 1940. They went to Nepal and talked with British Ambassador in Kathmandu and requested the new government to give permission to open a hospital in Pokhara. In 1952 they got permission to open the hospital under the condition that the mission would not be involved in proselytizing and political activities. Later NEB changed its name to the International Nepal Fellowship (INF) and it was mainly involved in medical work in Pokhara. The GreenPastureLeprosyHospital (the initial name was ShiningHospital) is one of its outstanding projects. My (Kiran's) father worked in this hospital and he accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior through the missionary from this hospital. But he had no way to be baptized in Nepal so he went to India and took water baptism in Roxsol.
2. The FirstProtestantChurch: Though missionaries were not given permission to preach the Gospel, God gave them many other ways to reach out to the people with His message. And many people accepted Christ and became Christians. "The first Protestant Church of Nepal is the Ramghat Church of Pokhara, established in 1952." It all started with a small mission group calledNepal Evangelistic Band, later INF. The tiny group of Nepali Christians of India along with the missionaries trekked into Nepal and became the pioneers of the church. The church at the time, a small fellowship of believers, used to hold their services in the Mission compound below the hospital. The first Pastor of the Church was David Mukhiya, from Darjeeling, who was also a member of the Nepal Evangelistic Band. The church continues to exist and has grown tremendously. The mission is now known asInternational Nepal Fellowship (INF). My (Kiran's) father was youth leader at this Church from 1975 to 1979. This shows that the mission and Church must go together to fulfill the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Other Missions: United Mission to Nepal (UMN) was started in 1954; it is the largest mission organization in Nepal. This mission has been working in many different areas in Hospital, School Training centers etc. The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) was established in 1955 with the permission from the government to provide health care.
Though there were Churches being established during these years, all of them were under ground Churches. The Church service was only for the missionaries in the mission camp, not for the Nepali. There was much persecution and difficulties to open the Church for the Nepalese people or in the village.
4. The Bible Translation: Whenever any Christian Nepalese talk about the first translation of Nepali Bible, the name of William Carey comes first who is known as the Father of the Modern Mission. "William Carey, who was the British missionary, spent a life time in India, was the first to recognize the need for a Nepali Bible. He started translating the New Testament in 1812 in Serampore, India, completing the New Testament in 1821." But for the complete work of Nepali Bible translation, the Pastor (Padari) Ganga Prasad Pradhan is the one who played a significant role for the Christian history."The British and Foreign Bible Society, as their official Nepali Bible translator from 1894, engaged him, and the translation of the whole Bible into Nepali language was completed and published in 1914."
REASONS FOR THE PERSECUTION:
In 14th Feb. 1769, King Prithivi Narayan Shah forced all Christians and Missionaries out of the country.This was the first time Christians were going through the persecution. Every one left the country and went to India. These Christians were led by God's will, because if they had stayed back in the country they would have been burnt down, but when they went to India they had great opportunity to grow in faith and to prepare themselves for the ministry of the Gospel for their own country. From 1769 to 1950 we do not see any Christian work in the country. This persecution happened on 14th of February in 1769 because of political situation. But from 1951 to 1990 (which is the mission age because the government of Nepal allowed the missionaries to do social works through their mission) the seed of the ProtestantChurch was planted and it was growing with much difficulties under serious persecutions. There were many different reasons:
1.The King: The King is considered an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods, Vishnu, in Nepal. This was the law of the nation that every person should worship the King. Though Christian respected the King highly but they could not worship him as god. This made the King to be unhappy with Christianity. Hinduism was/is the major religion. Christian conversion was mainly from Hinduism, which made the King to loose his support. This was another reason that Christians were persecuted in Nepal.
2. Hinduism: Hinduism is the major religion in Nepal. This country is known as only Hindu kingdom in the world. So, Hindu wants to keep their pride of being Hindu in the world with much large number in the country.The higher Hindu has much more privileges in the society and they lose it if people convert into the Christianity or any other religion. So, they persecuted the Christians and burned down the Churches.
3. Caste System:Caste system is major issue of its philosophy. The Brahmin always has most privilege in the society, because they are also considered as gods. And every other caste has to be under them. All people are identified with their caste in the society as well as in the government. When a person becomes Christian he or she lost identity, become with out caste, a caste without community. Then the Christians do not have any social participation, even in government.
4. Political System:During the Panchayat system King was the main Political leader and god, which is most difficult to follow him by accepting him as a god and worshipping him. For 10 years, the Church in Nepal is going through the persecution of Maoist (one of the fundamental communism). Christians were asked to support financially, materially and physically to them but the Church would not do it.Because of this many Christian leaders were taken into their labor-camp, some of them never came back. The Church buildings were taken to use as their offices, some of the Churches were then burned down when Christians opposed them.
5. Underprivileged:Becoming a Christian is following foreign religion; if you are not Hindu then you are not Nepali. If you do not have caste you are unidentified as Nepali. Then the privilege that a citizen could get will not be given to you. The Church of God is persecuted in every way in Nepal.
THE CHURCH GROWS UNDER THE PERSECUTION:
Christianity in Nepal during 1951 to 1989 had been slow growing at the same time there was much persecution to the Christians in the country. The government of Nepal opened the door for the mission to come in and to help only in the areas of health, education, rural development, technical training, and hydropower development and so on. But there were not any changes in constitution regarding the religious, as preaching and conversion were constitutionally prohibited. God used those missionaries to preach the Gospel to every person who came to the hospital for their health. God opened their hearts and they believed in Jesus Christ. In the beginning there were churches only in the mission camps but when sick people went to their respective places after treatment from hospital they had no Church for them. Many of them, because of the hard life in the community and because of much persecution, went back to their religion but in heart they were worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ. And many of others reminded around the camp area and continue to worship in the mission Church. By the end of 1960 there were churches in Pokhara, Tansen, Kathmandu and Nepalgunj where there were mission projects.During these years many believers and local house church leaders were put into prison, many house churches were burned down. The Church in Nepal was going through the Dark Age until 1989.
The Church in Nepal suffered a lot under the Panchayat system, but God's grace was sufficient to sustain them to live in faith that Jesus has given to them through the cross. As the persecutions increased, the church of Jesus Christ also grew much more. At the end of 1980s at least 300 pastors and more Christians were jailed. Government demolished the Churches and scattered the believers but wherever the believers were thrown into, in every place the Church was established. The persecutions of the government had become the strength to establish the Church of Jesus Christ in Nepal.
Til Bahadur Pariyar:
Til Bahadur Pariyar is a man of faith, a servant of the Gospel. He is the father of this writer, who was sentenced for the sake of Jesus Christ by the government of Nepal to prison three times from 1979 to 1985 but God preserved his life for work of the Gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. He was called by God to go to Mid-western Region of Nepal in 1977. He had only primary education, before he reached this place no people knew about the Christ Jesus. He began to preach the Gospel and teach the Bible. First, he was rejected by people because it was new religion but after some time people began to see the miraculous work of the Lord Jesus Christ when a sick person was healed. Then many people came to Christ. Though he went through many difficulties and persecutions, God used him to preach His Gospel to the people. In 1977 there was a small house Church of one family but now in this particular district 70 Churches have been established. It is God who works among the people. Even in persecution His church grows. He was well influenced among the Christians, as a result of that he developed many Christian leaders and the servant for the Gospel. He committed his whole family unto the Lord to serve Him, now his three sons; Hem Bahadur Pariyar is serving as Pastor in Grace Church in Nepalgunj, Kiran Das (writer) is serving as Missionary Pastor, and Bible Teacher across the country, and Bijaya Pariyar is serving as Evangelist. It is Til Bahadur who brought his family to Christ, grows his family as Christ center family. Now it is God, who is blessing this family and using this family to bless whole nation.
People of Nepal were not satisfied with the government system under the Panchayat which is direct rule of King. They wanted total democracy no monarchy rule, and in 1990 there was people's revolution against the Panchayat. Many people died and many Christian also were involved in demonstration and were killed by police. But finally the King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev declared the multiparty-democracy in Nepal. This ultimately brought a multiparty parliamentary constitutional monarchy. This system brought certain human rights including religious freedom. From 1990, a new era begins in Nepal; the Churches begin to flourish spiritually and physically. We really give glory and honor to God for raising men and women to carry out His mission through the difficult situations in Nepal. Also we do not forget to appreciate the great work of our fathers to establish the Church of Jesus Christ and his mission in the country.
The new constitution reiterated an earlier ban on conversions, vigorously enforced by royal official until 1990. Pastor Simon Gurung from Kathamndu noted that the police and other officials were not keen on enforcing this ban after the introduction of democracy with the 1990 constitution despite Nepal retaining its identity as a Hindu kingdom. I don't think there were 50,000 Christians before 1990, said Gurung who had twice been arrested for preaching the gospel and put behind bars for months until the multi-party system was ushered in.Now we have more than 700,000 Christians scattered in 1,500 independent church congregations among its population of 27.1 million people. From 1995, the Church in Nepal began to grow much faster and establishes much indigenous evangelical movement through the Church. We could all gather under one roof before, now we can not. I know personally, because I heard many times leaders have said these things. It could be two reasons mainly; one could be the growth of Churches in numbers and another could be the reason of the multiplication of exclusive denominations which hinder fellowship among the Christians.
1. Rapid Growth of the Church: Most of the Nepali Christians are Protestant. The Protestant missionaries who came from foreign were located within camp doing just social works and they were not allowed to go out. But they were able to send the native missionaries who were trained by them, to go to the village and established the Churches. The Churches have been established as like mushrooms under the rain. Until 1960, there were only four Churches in four different places with 100 believers. It was during the Dark Age of Nepali Church. In 1970, the numbers of Christian increased to 2,000, and in 1980 it was 20,000. In 1990, when democracy was restored, the number of the Christian was estimated at 100,000. By the end of 2001, there were over 500,000 Christians and 500 Churches in the country. Now we hope we have 700,000 Christians and 1500 Churches around the country. By this time, not only the Churches are growing but the Para-churches also are growing more and more. When Church grows the ministry also grows and the denominations also come in.
2. Denominational Growth: In 1959, The National Churches Fellowship of Nepal (NCFN) (initially Nepal Christian Fellowship) was established. This was the only an organization that could bring all Churches together under one roof. There was no doctrinal barrier to divide them. It was like one denomination among many but in 1995 the efforts of NCFN and other denominations under one umbrella have failed. Then many denominational Churches broke through out the country. Now, we could see Pentecostal, Assembly of God, El Shaddai, Presbyterians, Conservative Baptist, Evangelical, and IndependentChurch. But still the large numbers of Churches are Independent ChurchNepal.
3. B. L. M. Nepal: Bible Living MinistriesNepal has been started and continue its ministry since 2005. This ministry is affiliated to BLMUSA. It is challenging to this ministry to work in Far and Mid Western Region of Nepal. I believe that the ministry of the Gospel through BLM Nepal will reach throughout the country in near future. Mid and Far western Nepal is unreached region even by the government but God has opened the door for the Gospel to reach this unreached. At present BLM Nepal is conducting mobile training for the leaders and Pastors in the special areas of House Church Planting and discipleship, and looking for an opportunity to work among the Children, Youth, and for outreach ministry.It is true that God is using this ministry for his glory.
CHALLENGES & PROBLEMS:
Christianity in Nepal was considered as foreign and cow eating religion. This country is highly dominated by cast system of Hinduism, becoming a Christian is becoming an out-cast. So that, even though the country become democracy, it has great influence of Hindu. The Christians do not have privilege to work in government office unless they hide their religion. There are many challenges and problems in the Church.
1) The Church in Nepal is established by her own missionaries because the foreign missionaries were tied inside the mission camp. And Nepal has never endured a colonial past. So that most of the local Churches have lay pastors and function independently. They have to develop the self- support ministry in Nepal.
2)The Church in Nepal has to develop the concept of a Tent-Making ministry as the apostle Paul had ministry of the Gospel with the support of his tent business.
3)The Church in Nepal is growing very fast but we do not have trained pastors and leaders. We are facing hardship in area of theological field, so the Church have to develop the training centers and train many pastors and as well as Christian leaders.
4) There are many tribal groups yet not reached with the Gospel and the Bible is not translated in their language. The Church in Nepal have to train people as evangelists and send them to reach the unreached people groups and also the Bible should be translated into their language.
5)The Church in Nepal do not involve much in national welfare, rather, just having agenda of converting the people into Christianity, which makes the Church to loose their rights from the Nation, simply it means we should not separate the Church from the nation.
6)The Church in Nepal has to demonstrate faith through the witness of Gospel to the family, community and to the other religions, as the first generation Christian stands firm in the hardship and persecutions.
Surrounded by two large nations India and China, a Himalayan country Nepal, where 330 million gods are and which is 12 times larger then its population. In 17th century the first Father came to Nepal and started preaching the Gospel as a guest of King of the country. How wonderful it was because our God used the King as way of bringing the Gospel in Nepal. When the King of Gorkha conquered (Kathmandu) Nepal then all missionaries Catholic Fathers and local Christians were compelled to leave the country. We see how God brought them to India and established His Churches among the Nepalese around India to Burma during the exilic time of Nepali Christian. They never discouraged themselves but always encouraged to pray for Nepal to be opened for the Gospel. After a long period of 200 years of Dark Age of Christianity in Nepal, God opened the door for mission in Nepal in 1950 and He has been working in Nepal to establish His Church. Now, the Church in Nepal is growing faster.But we also have many problems and challenges to go through; I believe that the King of kings and the Lord of lords is still at work. He is raising men and women to serve for Him in this nation. We should thank God for His work in the past and we also should submit ourselves unto him so that he may use us in many ways to glorify His name through this nation.
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Locke, John K. -Nepal, The Encyclopedia of Christianity- vol.3, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. UK,2003.
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Pandey, Simon,-Nepal Christian Fellowship, A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, pp.594-95, editor Scott Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. UK,2001.
Perry, Cendy L. -NEPAL ARROUND THE WORLD, Ekta Books, R.C.Tomothy, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1997.
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Sin, Jack. -Front lines in the Gospel Mission Fields, Singapore: Maranatha BP Church, 2003.