It is Saturday in Nepal, and hundreds of people dressed in their best churchgoing clothes crowd together outside a large hall in the capital city of Katmandu.
Saluting each other with folded hands and saying "Jai Masih" (the Nepali expression for "Praise the Lord"), they take off their shoes, making their way inside to squat on a carpeted floor just before 10:30 a.m. Except for a handful of expatriates, the Nepali Isai Mandali (Gyaneshwor) Church is filled with first-generation Nepali Christians who have braved social and religious constraints to follow Jesus Christ. Every inch of space is taken and those who are late reluctantly sit outside. At the first strains of a Nepali song, all 2,000 hands, young and old, lift in praise to God. This amazing sight brings tears to my eyes. Ten years ago an open church meeting of this nature would have been impossible. The days when government agents infiltrated churches as spies, and Christians were persecuted or imprisoned, are also long gone. Three decades ago, two Nepali Christians, Robert Karthak and Laxmi Prasad Neupane, climbed the Himalayan Mountains, crossed rivers, and walked 15 miles a day to visit inaccessible villages across this nation of 23.2 million people. Each time they stumbled across a village, they stopped to sing a few songs, share their testimony, and hand out gospel tracts to those who could read. They journeyed for 45 days, sleeping under the stars and wearing out five pairs of shoes, ever aware that they could be arrested by the police and jailed on charges of breaking the law and proselytizing.
It was not until many years had passed that Karthak and Neupane began to meet new Christians from some of the villages they had visited. "No one remembered us," says ...1
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