Constant strikes and stepped up harassment and threats to Christians are making life very fearful for Baptists in Nepal, the Baptist World Alliance reported Thursday. As the insurgency continues against the Royal family and government by Maoistswho now control about 60 percent of the countrythere have been reports of daily killings in the landlocked nation.
In Khotang, now controlled by Maoists, Baptists have suffered the closing down of some churches, and warnings have been issued to uncooperative pastors, BWA reported. Twelve Baptist young people who were planning a revival were captured but have since escaped.
One leader informed the BWA that security had almost completely broken down.
According to sources, much of the current escalation in violence began in September when twelve Nepalese were killed in Iraq and Nepalese blamed the government and burned down the central offices of the government in Kathmandu. Muslim temples were also destroyed in other parts of Nepal.
BWA reports that churches in the Khotang area of Nepal have been warned to stop worshipping and close all churches within the month and pastors have been told they will have their hands cut off if they if they do not stop. Some pastors are now blacklisted and are in hiding, the fellowship of Baptists stated. Some churches have closed and are now meeting in homes. Pastors who venture out to travel must give detailed reports either to the Maoists or the Army. Because of this, Baptist leaders are unable to visit the churches or pastors.
The Khotang pastors reportedly plan to meet with the Maoist area commander to request they continue to be permitted to meet.
Also, throughout the country, there are sporadic and unpredictable strikes or "bandhs" that disrupt planning and make it difficult to know where and when one can travel. According to BWA, it was a "bandh" that caused the Nepal Baptist Church Council to cancel the pastors and evangelists three-day retreat in Kathmandu, earlier this year. It was finally held last November. Reports say attendance was excellent and "it was a good time of fellowship and encouragement."
According to BWA, the new wave of persecution comes just as "many people in the countryside are coming to know the Lord.
BWA has asked for the community to pray for peace in Nepal, pray for the pastors and leaders of the churches and their safety, and for the NBCC pastors meeting.