Friday, November 28, 2008

Nepal’s Christians look forward to first official Christmas

The Christian community in Nepal is looking forward to celebrating its first official Christmas and Christians in the UK are being asked to show their support.

Christmas Day this year is the first ever to be marked as a public holiday in Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation.

Although the Christian community remains small, it has grown considerably from around 30,000 people 15 years ago to some 700,000 believers today.

The growing number of believers has seen a huge increase in demand for Bibles but the Nepal Bible Society, with its limited funds, is struggling to meet the need and most Nepalese cannot afford to buy their own copy unless it is heavily subsidised.

“This is where churches in England and Wales come in,” said Peter Meadows Bible Society’s Director of Giving and Communications. “We are asking churches to make this Christmas different here too.”

Bible Society in England and Wales is seeking donations to help provide more Nepalese Christians with their own copies of the Bible, including a complete translation of the Tibetan Bible for the five million Tibetan speakers and copies of the Bible on solar-powered microchip for those who live without electricity in the mountains.

Bible Society has put together a free Nepal Christmas pack and DVD showing some of the ways that churches can celebrate Christmas Nepalese-style.

Nepalese Christians have traditionally been socially marginalised and there have been reports of authorities harassing churches. Twenty years ago, being a Christian was illegal.

“We couldn’t even go to church holding a Bible in our hand,” said Tej Jirel, General Secretary of the Nepal Bible Society.

Now the Christian community is looking forward to spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ over Christmas.

“This Christmas gives the Nepalese Church and Bible Society huge opportunities. We can invite non-Christians into church to explain the real meaning behind Jesus’ birth,” he added.

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(Source: CT)