Unbelievable church growth in Nepal

We’ve been talking about how the church has expanded in our time, growing sometimes through the most difficult of circumstances. All of this lines up nicely with Jesus’ words of Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

I first paid spiritual attention to the small Asian nation of Nepal when my daughter spent a summer there in ministry with Teen Missions a few decades ago. She returned to tell about a solidly Hindu country. So solid, it was against the law to convert from Hinduism to, well . . . , anything. She told me about the almost constant ringing of temple bells. She and her teammates decided that whenever they heard a bell ring from then on, they would pray for Nepal.

While our attention was turned elsewhere, God was working in Nepal, and I didn’t even hear about it until five years ago.

Perhaps the growth of Christianity in Nepal is best summed in these words of a national pastor, who wrote . . . 

“. . . missionaries who came from foreign countries were located within their compounds doing just social works.  They were not allowed to go out. They were able to send native missionaries trained by them, to go to the villages. 

“Until 1960, there were only four Churches in four different places with no more than 100 believers. It was the Dark Age of the Nepali Church.

“In 1970, the numbers of Christian had increased to 2,000, and in 1980 it was 20,000. In 1990, the number of the Christians was estimated at 100,000. By the end of 2001, there were over 500,000 Christians and 500 Churches in the country. Now [2010] we have 1,250,000 Christians in more than 1500 Churches around the country.”

Just five years ago, a Nepali Hindu leader wrote, “After the country was declared a Secular Republic [2006], some 1,000,000 plus Hindus have already been converted to Christianity.  In fifty years’ time, Nepal will have completely lost its Hindu identity.”

His prophecy seems to have come true. In 2015, the government structure changed, ensuring a true secular republic, with religious equality and freedom of choice.

That move was so dramatic that many in the international community feel neighboring India is now putting pressure on Nepal to return to its roots. Apparently the present pro-Hindu government of India is afraid this same pattern of Christian church growth could move into their own country!

Even with Christians now making up about 25% of its population, Nepal is still a relatively unreached country.  Its population of about 30 million is divided into 339 people groups, of which 317 are classified as least reached.  Recent history has shown that the relatively small church has done amazing things in reaching out, especially during national crises like the recent earthquake.  They need continued help from the outside to provide training and tools to maintain their forward momentum.  Judging by what has taken place over the past 60 years, it is not inconceivable that Christianity could become the majority religion in Nepal within our lifetimes.

“I will build my church,” said the Lord.