Postcard from Nepal December 08Changing Times
A few days ago we were chatting to a friend, Vijay, who is a church leader here in Nepal. He began to reflect on how things have changed for Christians in Nepal since he first became a believer. At that time, around 1988/9, the church was persecuted and believers were often put in jail. It was against the law to be a Christian and yet the church was growing. Vijay remembered an old man who always carried a toothbrush and toothpaste to church in his bible. He eventually plucked up the courage to ask the man why he did this.
“If I get arrested while I’m at church at least I’ll be able to clean my teeth in jail,” was the reply. Although not a Christian at the time, Vijay was shocked and yet impressed at the man’s faith and acceptance of the cost of being a disciple of Jesus in the then Hindu Kingdom.
Whenever you go into a house in Nepal it is customary to take your shoes off at the door and proceed inside barefoot; the same is true when entering church. Vijay also recalled that then people were asked to take their shoes off at the door, put them in a plastic bag and carry them inside. Everyone then sat with their bible to one side and their shoes to the other. Why? Because a pile of shoes outside the door of a house or other building would indicate that there was a gathering inside and that could draw the attention of the police, which could then lead to the meeting being disrupted and people, especially the leaders, being arrested.
This Christmas, twenty years later, as a mark of the complete turnaround in this state of affairs the 25th December has been declared a public holiday! Christianity has been officially recognised by the state and Christians will be able to celebrate the birth of Jesus in complete freedom. Please pray for ‘Gloria Deo’ a Christian musical event celebrating Christmas to be staged in the capital Kathmandu. It is being held on a show ground right in the centre of the city that has previously only ever been used for state and military events. Now Nepali Christians have the opportunity to proclaim the birth of Jesus freely and openly right in the heart of the city.
As you celebrate Christmas this year please also remember the Christians in Nepal and give thanks with them for the freedom to celebrate with others around the world.
We wish you a great Christmas full of the joy of knowing Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
Alan and Megan