In a new report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom says anti-conversion laws are on the rise in South Asia. The USCIRF is calling on the U.S. government to work with South Asian allies and “[apply] pressure on governments to rescind laws that deny individuals the right to share and choose their religion freely.”
The USCIRF report highlights anti-conversion legislation in five South Asian nations: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. As outlined here, concerns for Nepal center on stricter regulations for International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and a recently-implemented anti-conversion law:
“The true impact of the law will emerge as the law begins to be implemented. Many Christian groups, though, are concerned about the potential impact on non-Hindu religious groups.”
According to John Puidate of Bibles For The World, some believers are already facing intense pressure. In certain districts, “Christians are being persecuted more than ever before,” he reports.
“There’s people who are taking this anti-conversion law and using it as a means to really put pressure on Christians and churches.”
At the same time, God’s Spirit is on the move and hearts are changing.
“Nepal has just now reached a population of 3 million followers of Christ,” Puidate says.
The challenge: Nepal’s anti-conversion law
Nepal’s anti-conversion law went into effect in August after a lot of pressure from India. This southern neighbor holds tremendous economic power over landlocked Nepal.
“Everything from gasoline and diesel to food; you name it, it comes from India, and so they really have to pay attention when India’s leaders say, you know, ‘we want you to pass this law’,” Puidate explains.
As explained here, Nepal’s currency is tied to that of India, mainly because the latter has a stronger economic presence on the global stage. This factor – along with a weak national infrastructure and heavy reliance on India for tangible goods – leaves Nepal in no position to refuse India’s instructions.
Regardless, the Church is growing.
The triumph: “tremendous” Church growth
During a recent visit to Nepal, Puidate spoke with several partners of Bibles For The World. “We’ve just seen a tremendous explosion of growth,” he shares.
“We’ve seen Nepal go from totally unreached levels (2-3%) all the way up to 3 million followers of Christ. That’s 10% of the population.”
Bibles For The World strives to be a catalyst for individual and cultural transformation through God’s Word. With a strong focus on South Asia, the ministry equips and empowers local believers to reach their neighbors for Christ.
“Forces of darkness and evil [are] at work there, so we just need to keep lifting [believers] up in prayer.”