Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nepali radio programmes about the life of Jesus bring Hindus to Christianity

A series of radio programmes about the life of Jesus is giving hope to hundreds of Hindu children and orphans as well as victims of poverty and domestic violence. 

Some radio stations have begun broadcasting Christian programmes in 2013, written by Catholics and Protestants. 

The best known is Balbatika, children's programme produced by Nepali Catholics. 

In a few months, the show reached considerable success and many listeners, especially children, wrote to the radio with their stories about changes in their life thanks to the radio.

"I ​​come from a Hindu family," wrote Laxmi Gandharva, a 10-year-old girl from Rupandehi District (Lumbini). 

"I was two years old when my father died. My mother is very religious and fasts twice a week. Despite her prayers, our life has not changed. Stories about our family made ​​me very sad. I might be little but I do under understand how serious the situation is."

Laxmi met some Catholic children, she said, and went to Mass, which she calls "Sunday school."

"Unfortunately, my mother punished me when she found out and forbade me from going to church," she explained.

"One day, as I tried to change channels on the radio, I turned the dial to Balbatika, a programme whose songs I recognised because I had heard them during Mass. So, I decided to listen to the whole show," she said. "I learnt this way that Jesus loves children and I realised that I want to love him and obey his teachings." 

"I ​​know that for now I cannot go to church, but I decided that when I'm older I'll go," she noted. "I think that one day my mother will understand. I ask you to pray for me."

"Your programme has helped me know Jesus and pushed me to go regularly to Sunday school [i.e. Mass]," wrote another listener, Bikas Pariyar, in an e-mail to the radio. "These meetings taught me to be obedient towards my elders and love my enemies."

Carried by both state owned Radio Nepal and private Kantipur Radio, Atmik Abhiyan is a programme aimed at adult listeners that includes prayers and passages from the Gospels that provide spiritual support to the listeners. 

Until a few years ago, "despite the fall of the monarchy such a programme would have been unthinkable," said Tara Singh Kathayat, director of the group that hosts the programme. 

"In the past, we tried several times to propose programmes," he explained, "but the authorities turned down our requests because we are Christians." 

However, the establishment of a secular state and religious freedom in the country has given Christians a chance to have their own radio shows. 

"Our efforts have paid off and now our programmes have become very popular throughout the country with listeners of all ages," Singh said.

Because of the success of the programmes on the life of Jesus, over the next few months the Catholic Church plans to set up its own media centre, a radio station, and a website. It will also publish a newsletter.

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