According to the World Watch List*, there are twenty-five countries where Christians are currently experiencing extreme or severe persecution. On that list you will find Nigeria (number twelve), Kenya (number sixteen), India (number seventeen), and Myanmar (number twenty-three). You might recognize these countries as places where the CLC is actively involved in mission work through fellowship with foreign church bodies, and with either a full time missionary or regular visits by part time missionaries.
Though not on the World Watch List, persecution has also been on the rise in Nepal. Over the past few months, the Nepalese government has been enforcing a law in its constitution which prohibits forced conversions. One who is convicted can be sentenced to serve a term of three to six years in prison and to pay up to a 50,000 Rupee fine. The government has been using this law to target Christians and to treat Christian organizations as illegitimate bodies.
In June several Christians were arrested for “committing an act of religious conversion” because they distributed a handkerchief and Bible handbook to school children. They were not charged, and were released ten days later, but they must report to the police daily.
In August the offices of a WELS-affiliated church body was raided. Documents, laptop computers, and other office equipment were seized.
Raju Bhitrakoti is one of the leaders of the CLC-affiliated church in Nepal (HCLCN). Concerning the recent persecution, Raju writes, “Who knows [if] the government doesn’t do the same to others or us. It is a difficult situation for us. They are confining our work.” He also writes, “The government is creating a problems for Christians, churches to operate. They just want to stop the work for the Kingdom which is unstoppable.”
Raju said that the Lord has so far spared the HCLCN from any persecution, and for that we give thanks. In spite of the government action, Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in Nepal, especially in remote areas. It reminds one of Luke’s account of the growth of the early Christian church under persecution in the book of Acts, where we are told that “the Word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24).
Please remember our brethren in Nepal, and these other countries, in your prayers. Pray that the Lord would protect them, that He would give them strength and faithfulness to proclaim the truth in the face of persecution, and that His Word would grow and
Nathanael Mayhew is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye, MN and Faith Lutheran Church in New Ulm, MN, and a member of the Board of Missions of the CLC.