BACKGROUND: Located in the Himalayas north of India, Nepal is extremely poor. Foreign relief money poured into the country after the devastating 2015 earthquake, but corruption is rampant and the aid hasn’t led to significant improvements. The 2015 constitution guarantees religious freedom, but it is clear that it will not be enforced. Parliament recently passed a bill that criminalizes conversion to Christianity. Christian communities are small but outspoken.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Nepalis are divided between Hinduism, Buddhism and animism.
PERSECUTOR: Families, communities, Marxist groups and Hindu groups pressure Christian converts, and Christians also experience some government interference.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN NEPAL: In October 2017, Nepal’s president signed a bill into law that criminalized religious conversion. There is a small, visible Christian community in Nepal, but they are now being pressured by a movement to create a pure Hindu nation. Marxist groups, another significant force within Nepal, also persecute Christians. Christians face harassment and beatings from local Hindus. Eight Nepali Christians were arrested and charged with proselytizing after they distributed pamphlets, but the charges were later dropped. Four Christians were arrested and convicted of witchcraft after praying for a mentally ill woman in 2016. However, their conviction and five-year prison sentence was later overturned and they were released.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles are legal, though many people cannot afford them. Geographic isolation has limited Christian work in rural, mountainous areas.
VOM WORK: VOM distributes Bibles, trains pastors, and provides Christian literature and tools for evangelism.