Nepal: three urgent prayer requests
Fuel and food shortages and a potential threat to religious freedom. Six months on from the earthquakes, Nepal is facing a whole set of new challenges that need your prayers
For Nepal, 2015 has been a momentous year which will have an impact on people living there for many years to come. The media attention may have subsided, but Nepal still needs your prayers as it attempts to move forward. There are three areas we would like you to pray for:
1. Religious freedom
It has taken seven years for it to be agreed, but on 20 September 2015, a new constitution for Nepal was approved by the country’s Constitution Assembly. This is largely a welcome development, but there are concerns about the religious freedom implications of the constitution. While it states Nepal is a secular country, one clause (Article 31) says that ‘to convert another person from one religion to another or any act or behaviour to undermine or jeopardise the religion of each other is not allowed and such act shall be punishable by law.’
Our partners are already forbidden by law to proselytise in their work but this clause could have implications for the Church in Nepal which has been growing significantly in recent years. It all depends on how the law is interpreted and implemented.
Pray for the Church in Nepal as it contemplates how to respond to the new constitution in the way it shares the gospel with others.
2. Tension with India
The constitution has not been popular with everyone. Since it was passed, the border with India has been closed. India says protesters who are not happy with the constitution are responsible for the blockade but most Nepalis are blaming India whose government isreportedly unhappy that Nepal has decided to remain a secular country and not return to being a Hindu kingdom.
The effect of the blockade has been quite severe. BMS World Mission workers Becky and Dan Parnell reported in their blog that prices for everyday essentials such as fruit and vegetables have risen rapidly. The government has introduced a quota system for the distribution of petrol and diesel, forcing people to line up for hours for three litres of petrol to last a week. Restaurants have closed and even some schools have too as they don’t have fuel for the buses to get the pupils there. Kathmandu Airport has stopped refuelling international flights and hospitals are starting to run low on medicine. The earthquake has blocked the trade route to China, so apart from air there are no other ways to get supplies in.
Pray that the blockade will end and that relations will improve between Nepal and India.
3. Earthquake recovery
When the earthquakes hit in April and May your generous giving allowed us to respond to the massive relief effort that was needed. Our partners in Nepal are now in the stage of helping the long-term recovery of communities. Plans underway supported by BMS and the BReaD network of Baptist relief agencies include:
• Rebuilding homes and recovering livelihoods for over 7,200 households in Dhading district
• Over 2,000 people living with disabilities and their families in Gorkha district will receive support so they have full access to their communities and local services they currently don’t have
• 790 households in Lalitpur District will be supported through a variety of activities including psycho-social work, reconstruction of water and sanitation systems and livelihoods support
These projects will take a minimum of two years to complete and the task is enormous. “One of the particular challenges is just the sheer scale of the response required to restore homes, lives and communities back to even what they were before the earthquake,” says BReaD Network Facilitator Rachel Conway.
Pray for this important recovery work in Nepal, that it will meet people’s needs and provide them with a more hopeful future.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission