Christianity And Hinduism Oscillate Between Hope And Fear In Nepal
By Phurpa Sherpa, KATHMANDU: The World Christian database claims that Nepal has one of the fastest growing Christian communities in the world. In Nepal, 65 percent of people following Christianity are from the Dalit community. Likewise, there were only three churches in Nepal until 2046 B.S. (1990-91 A.D.). This number grew to around 500-700 by 2063 B.S. (2006-07 A.D.).
The latest figures suggest that there are around 13,000 churches in Nepal. The followers of Christianity were 0.2 percent in 1951 A.D., which rose to 1.5 percent in 2011 A.D. In 2001 A.D., a total of 1,02,000 Nepalese people were converted to Christianity and in 2011 A.D., the total number of Christians was recorded 375,699 in Nepal.
According to Raju Sundas, Founder President of Hosanna Church Ministry, his organization has been working in Nepal for the past 25 years.
“It’s quite simple to run a church,” Sundas says.
“When a person comes to Jesus Christ (church), he becomes a Jesus devotee. When somebody becomes a member of the church, he has to pay 10 percent of his income to the church as per his wish.”
Sundas, who is a priest himself, says that they have three kinds of systems in the church, which are: Tithes, Breakthrough Offerings and the First Fruits.
The meaning of Tithes is that the members should give 10 percent of their income to the church.
Likewise, the meaning of Breakthrough Offerings is that, somebody who used to smoke, consume alcohol or involve in other bad activities, have left those activities, are aware about these bad habits and can save their money from their new improved habits. These people can donate or send funds to the church once a year.
“We generally receive Rs. 500,000 to 1 million from some of our members through the Breakthrough Offerings,” adds Sundas.
Similarly, the meaning of First Fruits is that members have to donate their salary of one month to the church once a year.
There is no any role or investment of any national and international INGOs /NGOs in building churches but there are lots of NGOs/INGOs in Nepal which are run by the leaders/pastors of the church for various social services including education and health.
The leaders of NGOs/INGOs from the church have their own aims of doing activities rather than involving in spreading the religion or increasing the followers of Christianity, according to Sundas.
“While talking about my own church, there are seven churches that I have been running,” Sundas says.
“A church carries out activities related to Christianity, while an NGO carries out activities related only to social services. Here in Nepal, there are Christian INGOs/NGOs which are funded by different countries of the world like the USA, Australia and European countries. But they are not supporting the Nepalese Christians. Nepalese people, as well as foreigners who are living in different countries, are funding the churches all the way from the USA, Singapore and Japan.”
Sundas says the churches in Nepal are even ready to pay taxes to the government, if the government opens registration for the churches.
“If the government gives a permission for the registration of churches, the churches are ready to pay taxes to the government.”
Until now, there is no any church in Nepal, which is officially registered.
Sundas says the provincial governments have donated Rs. 750,000 for Salah Church and Rs. 200,000 for Surkhet Church.
“Provincial governments have not only helped built the churches but also have been organizing good programs and activities for the Christian community. During Christmas, we charged Rs 500 to 1,000 for the members as the entry fees in the churches.”
According to Ram Krishna Upadhyay, President of Hindu Jagaran Nepal, the preaching of Christianity is increasing day by day in Nepal and the number of churches in the country are also increasing.
“We have noticed that some people go to a church, today, and thereby to a Hindu temple, tomorrow. These kinds of practices are appearing in our society,” Upadhyay says.
“From this, we can say that if someone is in a problem, an institute or church understands his problem and tries to solve it, as per their rules and regulations. It is just like we want some kind of loan from a bank and then we need to sign an agreement and follow some procedures of the bank. Christianity also has its own rules that should be followed by its followers.”
Upadhyay adds: “If the government had done something for the uneducated and poor people suffering from starvation and deprivation, then they wouldn’t have converted to Christianity.”
“Leaders of Christianity won’t say directly to people to convert and follow Christianity. They conduct humanitarian works like distributing rice and other food to the needy people and these activities are indirectly helping to increase the followers of Christianity,” Upadhyay says.
“We want our government to take action, like other countries do for the involvement in conversion activities. China and India have been taking action against those who attempt to spread the religion through various mediums and institutions. From our side, we are trying our best to stop the individuals who are involved in preaching the religion in Nepal,” Upadhyay adds.
Published Date: Wednesday, January 1st, 2020 | 06:57 PM