In response to allegations of forced conversions among Nepalese citizens by over-zealous Protestants, the government is considering changing the criminal code to make it illegal to convert to any religion other than Hinduism and Buddhism. This wouldn’t just be limited to the act of conversion itself; according to Asia News, under the new code, “anyone who preaches or tries to persuade others to change religion could get up to five years in prison and receive a fine of [around $900].”
Nepalese officials say that the move would not be intended to stigmatize Christians as a whole. “The law is not against Christians who do great work in the service of the country,” Nepali Justice Minister Prabhu Sah said, “but is against the imposition of Christianity.”
He added, rather pointedly, that the allegations of forced conversions did not apply to Catholics. Protestant groups vehemently denied the claims.
Note from Jerry: This was published June 9. The Nepal government is at its most unstable position that I have seen in my 15 years here. Three years ago it appointed a special Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution. Nothing has been accomplished. Parliament was going to decide how to integrate the Maoist soldiers into the fabric of the Nepal Army and/or civil life. Nothing has been accomplished. Over these three years, as deadlines approach, the political parties made many promises, but nothing has been accomplished.
Twelve years ago the country had 5-6 political parties. All they did was fight each other for power. Today there are 29 parties still doing the same thing. On paper and in numbers the Maoists are the strongest party. They are anti-American and anti-God. You hear more talk about bringing back the king, which means bringing back a strong Hindu state. The World Hindu Organization is flexing its muscles more.
The political future of Nepal is a mystery.
In January 2010 the doors opened for The Nepal Center For Biblical Studies. Our six students will graduate in September. We should begin a new “batch” of students in November. Working with these students has been an honor, a pleasure, and to see their progress is an encouragement.
The spiritual future of The Nepal Center For Biblical Studies is not a mystery, at least not in the minds of Gajendra [the best Director you could hope to find] and me. At this moment the students, Gajendra, and Kirish [Nepali teacher] are on a campaign to four villages high in the mountains to work with, encourage, and mature established congregations. This is the first missionary outreach where I have not gone along. Thanks to their progress, they can do a good job, will set a good example, and my presence is not needed.
Please pray for Nepal as a country, the church in Nepal, and the unhindered continuity of the school.
In God’s grace, love, and peace …………. Jerry