Top of the world: 29,035-foot/8,848-meter Mount Everest, left, and 25,850-foot/7,879-meter Nuptse. (Photo by Jim Nowlin, Mission: Nepal 2008)
Nepal is a nation that has faced a long road to stability. In recent years however, progress has been made. Nepal was once the world’s only Hindu Kingdom. In 1951 a cabinet form of government was adopted into the monarchy. Further reforms in 1990 established a multi-party democratic system of government also within the monarchy. An insurgency led by Maoist extremists broke out in 1996 giving way to a 10-year civil war between the Maoist insurgents and government militaries. This resulted in the dissolution of the cabinet and parliament and the absolute power once again being held by the king in 2006. Several weeks of mass protests were followed by months of peace talks between the Maoists and government officials. Finally, in November of 2006, a temporary constitution was legislated. Following an election in April 2008, Nepal declared itself a federal democratic republic.
With these positive changes, there is much hope for Nepalese Christians. In spite of the fact that it is still illegal for non-Hindu’s to proselytize, the church in Nepal is growing. Although Nepal's government has seen development, it's economy has struggled for years and continues to do so.
Geographical isolation, difficult terrain and poor infrastructure, are among the chief contributing factors to Nepal’s status as an impoverished nation. Approximately one-third of the people of Nepal live below the poverty level surviving on less than the equivalence of a U.S. dollar a day.
Young people make up two-thirds of this nation's population. Illiteracy is very widespread due to most children being deprived of schooling opportunities. This makes them very vulnerable to a host of evil including sex trafficking, drug abuse, and even joining radical political or religious groups.
Many different groups comprise the Nepalese people. According to Operation World, there are 100 different ethnic groups, consisting of 300 peoples, sub-groups and castes. Typically, ones caste is considered equally important as ones ethnicity in this Hindu culture.
This caste system adds one more challenge to those seeking to convert to Christianity. If a person put their faith in Jesus as opposed to the traditional Hindu beliefs, they would become an outcast and face difficulty in finding employment, housing, etc., and often times even be cut off from family.
Location: South Asia. Leader: President Ram Baran Yadav has been president since July 2008. Population: 29,391,883. Primary Religions: Hindu at 75 percent. Buddhism is a distant second at sixteen percent. Currently, Christians only make up about 2 percent of Nepal’s population.
Where in the world?
Nepal (shaded, above) is located in South Asia bordering India and China. (World Factbook)
— Jordan Rowley, Climbing For Christ spiritual coordinator
Posted April 5, 2011