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NEPAL: Christians Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

NEPAL: Christians Continue to Face a Context of Growing Persecution

Persecution in Nepal continues to be an increasing concern for the growing Christian population of the predominantly Hindu country.

Despite the 2015 constitution guaranteeing religious freedom, parliament passed a bill in 2017 criminalising conversion to Christianity. In 2018, the prime minister and other government officials publicly said anyone found changing their religion would be expelled from the country.

The Nepalese Christian community says that they are holding fast to the principle that Christ calls His followers to share their faith, but choosing to follow Him is an individual choice, not something to be forced on anyone. Nevertheless, this community is consistently accused of forcefully converting.

Pastor Hari Tamang has been falsely charged with trafficking children and attempted conversions after he had agreed to shelter children who would have otherwise been put on the street because their former shelter could not help them any longer. Years after the traffic charges were dropped, Tamang continues to fight the charges of attempted conversion of the children.

Similar cases to that of Pastor Tamang have become more common throughout Nepal as the growth of Christianity has skyrocketed. Advocacy organisations estimate that Christians now number between two and three million throughout Nepal, comprising a larger portion of the Nepalese population than ever before. Nepal’s churches number between 10,000 and 12,000 across the country.

The church also conducts a good deal of aid distribution in communities of need throughout Nepal, which raises the suspicions of local authorities and devout Hindus who see it as a ploy for conversions.

Regardless of this, the church continues their mission and remains adamant that no forced conversions are taking place, arguing that they are simply fulfilling the teachings of their faith in aiding and serving the poor. The free exercise of religion for Christians means doing exactly that.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Global Press Journal, The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Praise God for the growth of the church and their faithfulness in spreading the Gospel and bringing salvation and eternal hope to many.
  • Ask the Lord to continue using these believers to spread the Gospel, shielding their hearts against fear of opposition.
  • Ask for justice for Pastor Tamang, that the case will finally be resolved. Pray for the children in his care.

Post your prayers in the comments below.

INDIA: Increasing Pressure from Hindu Nationalists

INDIA: Increasing Pressure from Hindu Nationalists

For many years, the Hindu Nationalist organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been an influential factor in Indian politics, particularly within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). One of the goals of the RSS is to change India from a secular democracy to a nation governed by Hindu polity. This is being achieved by the passing of anti-conversion laws to prevent people from converting from Hinduism.

At least nine states have now passed anti-conversion legislation, including, the Uttar Pradesh state in November. Under this legislation, police have arrested four people – one of them, a Korean national. The four had been distributing aid to people affected by the COVID-19 lockdown and, according to the aid organiser, two of those arrested were not even Christians. No mention was made to the aid recipients of their need to change religion, and no money was given or promised to coerce them. At last report, attempts were being made to secure bail for the detained humanitarian workers.

On 9 January, one of the states that already had anti-conversion legislation, passed newer and tighter restrictions. According to the newly implemented rules of Madhya Pradesh state, anyone wanting to change their faith must obtain official permission 60 days in advance or they could face up to ten years in prison and a fine of $890.

These laws intend to prevent conversion by bribery or coercion but, in practice, they are being used by militants to intimidate and harm religious minorities. For Hindus however, the laws do not seem to apply. There are also numerous reports of coercion being used to convert people to Hinduism in a process called Ghar wapsi which translated means, ‘a homecoming’.

According to a year-end report from Release International, it is expected that Christian persecution in India will increase during 2021 due to the growing influence of Hindu nationalism.

Sources: Release International, Mission Network News, World Watch Monitor

  • Pray for churches and Christian organisations throughout India that are encountering increasing pressures by governing officials and community members.
  • May the Lord give these believers and their leaders wisdom and direction as they seek to share the Gospel, and the courage to follow His leading in the midst of opposition.
  • Pray that those recently arrested will be released and that all charges against them will be dropped.

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INDIA: Virus Restrictions Embolden those Opposed to Christianity

INDIA: Virus Restrictions Embolden those Opposed to Christianity

Christians in the state of Chhattisgarh have faced a tough time since coronavirus restrictions were placed in India.

According to a VOM worker, they face four main challenges: they are not allowed to farm, which is their main source of income; they live in ongoing fear of social ex-communication; they are prohibited from using communal wells; and their Christian activities are closely monitored.

Villages where there are three or fewer Christian families, impose strict guidelines on the Christians; if they perform any Christian activity in their house, they will be ex-communicated, and their land and property will be taken away. For this reason, Christian families sometimes limit church attendance to once a month, walking great distances to attend. Pray for 15 families in particular whom VOM is supporting at this time.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Ask the Lord to provide spiritual encouragement and practical provision to these families who have been targeted and are suffering.
  • Pray the strength and uncompromising faith of these families may be used by the Lord as a witness for the power of the Gospel and the love of Christ.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in those who currently oppose the Gospel to bring transforming and powerful change.

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MYANMAR: Frontline Worker Accused of Denigrating Buddhism

MYANMAR: Frontline Worker Accused of Denigrating Buddhism

A Christian accused of speaking against Buddhism has been told that a verdict will soon be delivered. Aung Tun Oo was accused by two radical Mahbahtah monks of denigrating Buddhism in 2017. Since the case was registered, Aung Tun Oo has been summoned to the court 54 times.

A VOM worker in Myanmar asked for prayers that God would cause the judge in the case to rule justly rather than give in to pressure from the radicals. The Mahbahtah monks are members of the Wirathu sect, which is the most dangerous terrorist group in Myanmar.

As Aung Tun Oo has been going through this gruelling legal process, he has also suffered physical ailments.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Ask the Lord to strengthen Aung Tun Oo physically and spiritually as he continues to endure this trial.
  • Pray for the Lord’s favour on Aung. May the verdict be just and this case fully resolved. Pray too he will receive much support and encouragement from other believers.
  • Pray for those who oppose the Gospel in Myanmar, that they would have a transforming encounter with the one true God.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

LAOS: Christians Detained for Planning Christian Funeral

LAOS: Christians Detained for Planning Christian Funeral

Four Lao Christians have been in jail for more than three months in the country’s Khammouane province for planning a Christian funeral that is contrary to the local customs.

On 3 July, the four Christians travelled to Khammouane’s Phousath village to attend a funeral that was deemed by village authorities to have violated Lao customs and “divided community solidarity.” As a result, they were arrested before they could conduct the Christian ceremonies, said a Phousath village official.

The local villagers wanted to perform ceremonies for the deceased Christian “according to our culture handed down to us by our ancestors,” the official continued, “When someone dies, we help by making donations, sharing food, and asking [Buddhist] monks to come and pray at the home.”

“But [the Christians] wanted to do things that violate our traditional customs. They were preparing things that we felt were strange and wrong and do not understand, and so we acted in order to prevent them from happening,” he said.

While no trial has been held to prosecute these four Christians who are from different villages, the police investigation has been completed and no decision was made as to what happens to them next. Their wives and children are facing hardships due to the loss of income and uncertainty about the four men’s fate.

On 12 October, an official in the religious affairs department of the Lao central government reportedly stated that his department will now work with the Lao Front for National Construction and the Evangelical Church of Laos to win justice for the four imprisoned villagers.

Sources: International Christian Concern, Radio Free Asia

  • Pray for justice for these believers and for their swift release.
  • Pray this difficult time endured by these Christians and their families, may be used by God as a witness to the God-given faithfulness and strength of believers.
  • Pray for Christians in Laos who face opposition. That they will be encouraged and strengthened and will stand firm when tested.

Post your prayer in the comments below.