Maoist Rebels Call Off Blockade, Christians Remain Concerned

Although Nepal’s Maoist rebels have temporarily called off a blockade of the capital, effective on Wednesday, the Christian community is still tense following the murder of a former missionary of Gospel for Asia, and the disappearance of another.

According to sources, Maoist rebels in Nepal had claimed responsibility for the murder of Radio Nepal journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa last week, announcing he had been convicted and executed for "spying.”

The news came as a shock to staff at the headquarters of Gospel For Asia, where Thapa was a missionary from 1998 until 2000, when he felt a calling to journalism.

Prior to the news, GFA reported that security issues were already at the forefront of their minds because just days earlier, Nepali missionary Besh was abducted by the Maoists. As of now, no word has been heard on Besh or his whereabouts.

The threat mounted high enough to where authorities have ordered two other missionaries, Pastor Basu and native missionary Imansingh, to vacate their area of ministry within a week.

Gospel For Asia's KP Yohannan told Mission Network News, "We never expected these kinds of things to double up immediately. But now, this new turn [of events] has taken place; attack, kidnapping and killing by Maoists toward the Christian workers."

Yohannan said they're looking at how these events may change the way ministry is done in light of the changing tide. "The Maoists never really attacked our people. They said, 'Your people are helping our poor Nepalese; you started schools for them' and all that, but all of the sudden, everything turned around and became kind of dark. So, there is some apprehension [about] how it is all going to be."

Yohannan says the church in Nepal is maintaining a prayer vigil even as they continue their work. Meanwhile, Yohannan and GFA have asked for the Christian community to pray for Besh’s protection and safe return, and for Thapa's family as they cope with the loss. Thapa is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.