Scaling mountains in Nepal
Until 1940 Christianity was prohibited in Nepal. But in 1950 Nepali Christians living in Darjeeling, north-east India, brought the gospel into the country and won a few people for Christ.
A number of other Christian missions were active from that time, including the International Nepal Fellowship (formerly Nepal Evangelistic Band) and the United Mission to Nepal. These societies established mission hospitals and schools, and did much good.
The first Evangelical church was established in 1952 — at Ramghat in Pokhara. Other churches were planted at Putali Sadak in 1956 and at Gyaneshwar in 1957.
But when a law prohibiting religious conversion was passed in 1962 there was renewed persecution. People ostracised Christians as being low caste — and, indeed, few of the converts were educated or literate.
Leadership of the churches was difficult in this climate, and evangelical conferences and seminars for Nepal had to be held in north India (at Siliguri or Raxaul).
Once political democracy was fully established in Nepal, in 1990, a door was also opened for evangelistic endeavour. Other missions arrived, including Nepal Campus Crusade for Christ and Every Home Concern, and the numbers of professing believers increased rapidly.
In the year 2000 Nepal was said to have the fastest growing church in the world. Today there are about 5,000 churches.
These new churches were begun in the face of continuing opposition from Hindus and Buddhists. Nepal is, uniquely, a Hindu nation, and Christian conversion can bring a prison sentence of up to six years.
Some months ago, many churches were closed in east Nepal. A few were burned down and others vandalised. Christians were threatened with murder.
Recently, in a village in the Gorkha district, local Christians were not allowed to conduct a funeral — Orthodox Hindus compelled them to leave the body unburied for three days. Bibles were burnt and churches smashed.
Believers were expelled from the village as too low caste, and the villagers would not even touch the water that had been touched by Christians.
Doctrinally there is much need among the churches. Ecumenism and liberalism are rife and the Charismatic movement strong. Most Baptists, for example, have joined the liberal Baptist World Alliance.
However, Canaan Baptist Church in Pokhara, begun in 1993, is a church where the doctrines of grace have been taught and separation from false teaching practised. The pastor trained at the Metropolitan Tabernacle seminary in London.
Since 1993, Canaan has planted 34 Reformed Baptist churches in different parts of Nepal, as well as three in Bhutan. More than 200 pastors have received teaching in the Reformed faith. Presently, 71 churches in Nepal subscribe to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689).
Most Christians in Nepal know great poverty. Pastors and evangelists engage in secular work to make a living, and have little time for study. There is a need for believers to learn to support their pastors by regular -giving.
Socially also, Nepal is in great need with widespread violence and robbery. Only the gospel of Christ can change people, and bring peace and good governance to the country. For this, Christians must pray.
Recently there has been an increased circulation of Christian literature translated from other languages, and also of contemporary Christian books in the Nepali language — this is the result of educated Nepalis coming to faith.
However, there is still very little Reformed Christian literature. Canaan Baptist Church has translated and printed a number of books, including, The Charismatic phenomenon and The healing epidemic by Dr Peter Masters, and theBaptist Confession of Faith (1689) and The five points of Calvinism.
As well as pressures from living in a Hindu society, the church in Nepal faces distracting influences from cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians and Jesus Only movement. These have concentrated on luring professing Christians into their ranks.
The true church needs to be established and warned against all such heresies. There is also a need for sound doctrine to be taught so that there will be an increased spiritual hunger for the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ