It’s not often in today’s world that people are prosecuted under the charge of witchcraft, but this is what happened recently in Nepal.
According to a report from World Watch Monitor, five Christians in Nepal were recently charged with witchcraft and violence, and four of them were convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
According to the article, the charge was based on an event that took place months ago, when a woman with a mental illness visited the church looking for help. She was prayed for and left the church, and both she and her husband testified in court on behalf of the Christians, saying the five men did not act forcefully or inhumanely towards her and that she was now better.
Local church leaders report that they think the five were specifically targeted as minority Christian.
Last year, Nepal introduced a new Constitution which makes illegal anything perceived to be proselytism or ‘evangelising’, and these sentences come just after another court case involving eight Christians was dropped. They were also charged under Nepal’s new anti-proselytising law.
Dyann Romeijn of Vision Beyond Borders says much of the tension has to do with a growing Hindu-nationalist sentiment, influenced by India. Even though it is legal to be a Christian in Nepal and it is legal even to leave another religion to become a Christian, it is heavily frowned upon.
Romeijn says, “I think that what they’re trying to do is silence that Christian voice. [If] people can’t hear, then they have no opportunity to know the truth.
“I think overall, it comes down to the same thing we see around the world, is that it’s a spiritual persecution … a lot of times they’re not as worried about cultural differences when they come in different ways, but when it comes in with the truth of the Gospel, I just think we see everything rise up against that.”
But, she points out, there have been moments in history where Christianity was more welcomed in Nepal. After the earthquake in April 2015, Christian organisations were able to reach out and meet the many physical needs that arose, and it is in these types of situations that people also better recognise their spiritual needs. The impact of that time is still going on today, but it is very difficult to assess just how big the Christian population is in Nepal.
- Pray for the four Christians who have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to surround them and their families, and that the charges against them will be dropped.
- Pray for Christians across Nepal as they grapple with the anti-proselytising legislation. Pray for wisdom, and courage to continue to share their faith and the truth of the Gospel.
- Pray for those still suffering from the 2015 earthquake. Pray that they will have the aid they need to rebuild their homes and livelihoods, and will come to know Jesus through the witness of the Christian organisations working amongst them.
- Pray for Nepal, for a move of the Holy Spirit in this nation to strengthen the Church, and to draw many to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 4 vs 3: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.”
Source: https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org, https://www.mnnonline.org/news