The leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nepal has called for prayers amid a State clampdown on evangelistic outreach, including the distribution of religious literature and even having a Bible in a Christian orphanage.
All evangelistic activity is prohibited under the new Nepalese Constitution that came into force in September 2015. Article 31(3) of the Constitution says that “any act to convert another person from one religion to another, or any act or behaviour to undermine or jeopardise the religion of another, [is] punishable by law.”
“It is time to reconsider our approach toward reaching other communities with the Gospel,” said Umesh Pokharel, president of the Adventist Church’s Nepal Section.
Whilst the Constitution does not actually define what constitutes “any act to convert,” authorities have started to interpret the law. According to Pokharei, the Social Welfare Council, the government agency responsible for approving foreign aid used to conduct local programmes, has stopped approving Christian activities.
Distributing Christian literature invites punishment, and the authorities have warned the leaders of Christian boarding schools and orphanages that they face large fines, the confiscation of property, and closure if a single piece of literature is found on their premises. The government also has banned adults from praying with children and doing Bible studies with them.
Pokharel said the Church is concerned that the clampdown could expand even further.
“Holding church services accessible to all, or organising events to help underprivileged and disadvantaged people could be interpreted as evangelistic and considered a violation of the law,” he told the Adventist Review.
Pokharel said Adventist believers have experienced challenges for decades in the predominantly Hindu nation, which has never officially recognised Christianity as a religion.
“In this difficult time for Christian community in Nepal, we kindly solicit your sincere and continuous prayer for all our brethren, evangelists, pastors, and co-workers serving in parts of this country,” he said.
- Pray for the Church in Nepal as it faces growing pressure against it. Pray for wisdom as they grapple with the new laws and their implications on the freedom to share their faith and reach their communities with the Gospel.
- Pray for the government of Nepal to recognise Christianity as an official religion in their country, and to protect the right of all people to freedom of belief and worship.
- Pray for Christian schools and orphanages also affected by this legislation, for wisdom and discernment as they balance obeying the law with freedom to disciple the children in their care.
- Pray for Nepal, as it stands at a crossroads in terms of allowing freedom of belief. Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit in this nation, for the Church to remain strong and to grow, and for many Hindus across Nepal to come to know Christ and the Truth of His Gospel.
Romans 12 vs 12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. “
Source: http://www.interamerica.org, http://www.persecution.org