U. J. Gurung, M. A. in History (T. U.)
In 16th century Jesuit Missionaries came to South Asia and established their Mission stations in India and Tibet. They were later followed by the Capuchin Missionaries. The Capuchin Missionaries were the ones who first established the Christian Mission in Nepal in 1715. The policy taken by the Malla Kings was the main reason why the Capuchins established their Mission in Kathmandu. The Malla Kings were interested to have relationships with the Europeans for the trade and medical purposes. In 1661, King Pratap Malla of Kathmandu had promised Father Grueber and Father Albert D’Orville, the Jesuit Priests, to provide a house and a large annual subsidy, asking them to establish their Mission in Kathmandu. And he had also promised them that he would permit them to preach the gospel in Kathmandu. King Bhasker Malla had the same policy as King Pratap Malla had. And even Bhupatindra Malla of Bhaktapur had the same policy towards the Christian missionaries. But the Jesuits were unable to establish the mission in Nepal though they were passing through Kathmandu on the way to Tibet several times. Later Fr. Francis Horace of Della Penna came with a team of Capuchin missionaries and established the first Christian Mission in Kathmandu in 1715.
King Prithvi Narayan of Gurkha state conquered Kathmandu Valley in1767 where three Malla kings were ruling. Prithvi Narayan had different policy than the Malla Kings. Malla Kings were more interested to have mutual relationships with the Christian Missionaries and the European traders, wherein King Prithvi Narayan Shah had taken the policy of isolation from the Europeans to save the independency of New Nepal from the growing giant, Great Britain in South Asia. Because of the policy taken by the new king, Capuchins went for exile in 1769. But unlike King Prithvi Narayan Shah, both his brother Bahadur Shah and Crown Prince Pratap Singh Shah had cordial relationship with the Christian Missionaries. Infact, the Capuchin Missionaries did not leave Nepal totally until 1810 A. D., though the church was not existed in Nepal after 1769. It seems that the Rana Prime Ministers had taken the policy of King Prithvi Narayan Shah concerning the religion and foreign Missionaries. They never allowed Christians to stay and preach the gospel during Rana regime.
There was no church existed then in Nepal until 1952. It was a total failure of the Capuchin Missionaries. It is found out that they did not emphasize to distribute the Bibles to the native people as other Biblical Missionaries such as William Carey and others had done in India in 19th century. This was the main cause of failures in the ministry of Capuchin missionaries in Nepal. William Carey, a Baptist Missionary from England arrived in India in 1793 and translated in different languages of India and neighbouring countries. By 1832 Carey and other Missionaries had produced more than 212,000 volumes of bibles in forty different languages. They had published Nepali New Testament in 1821. It was a special beginning of history of Missions in India. The same path was followed by the Missionaries of Church of Scotland in Darjeeling. Nepali Bible was translated and published in 1914 with the special help of Ganga Prasad Pradhan. So it is clearly seen in the history that the Bible was the main means of changing the lives of the people around the World. It was the main reason why the works of the Missionaries were sustained for centuries in the different parts of the World. But the works of the Capuchins were not sustained in Nepal.
Baptists and other Christians were penetrated by the Roman Catholic Church authorities in the dark ages which is 6th century A.D. to 16th century A. D. mainly because of their love for the Bible. But it is clearly seen that the means of penetrations did not help much to stop obeying God according to the revelation of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. Though the door was closed for the evangelism in Nepal after 1769, people of Nepal were being converted in Christianity in the border areas and the different parts of India. Even in Nepal there were secret Christians during the Rana dynasty. Panchayat system had the policy of penetration against the Christianity. The Civil Code of 1963 had declared the descriptions of the punishment against the proselyting. But it is proven that the policy of penetration did not help the government.
In Christianity, doctrines and the practices are important. Only source of all doctrines and the practices is the Bible. It should be established strongly and as unchangeable. But by studying the First Church of Nepal, Ramghat Chuch, Pokhara it is clearly revealed that the doctrines and practices were being changed. Doctrines were not emphasized and defined in written form. As a result, as the Pastors were changed, the doctrines and the practices were also changed in Ramghat Church. In the beginning, this church was a non-pentecostal church but today it is not only a Pentecostal but a Charistimatic Church. Why there are so many sects and denominations in Christianity today? One of the reasons is the different way of interpretations of the Bible. Actually Bible is to be understood and interpreted literally not in allegorically. Literally here, means to understand what the words say. But allegorical interpretation means to spiritualize the words of the Bible. When the words are not understood literally, how a person know what the Bible says? And human experiences and feelings cannot lead the Bible.
Christian Missionaries were being blessings for Nepal, there is no doubt. If genuine Missionaries come to Nepal, they can be a great help for both development and in the area of spiritual life of the people. Churches in the foreign lands need to send them as Missionaries who are real Missionaries to preach the gospel loving the native people giving themselves for the people. Nepal is a country, which honour the Missionaries for their good works and virtues. If they live a life exemplary, they will achieve good will and support from the people.
Nepal is really helped through the lives and services of the Missionaries in the area of hospitals, schools, engineering works and other social sectors. Nepal cannot ignore the contributions of the Christian Missionaries in such areas. Because of their good works, the position of Christians in the Nepalese society is good. Some times in the fifties, Christians were regarded as untouchable people, but today there are no such discriminations against them. Even then there were failures in the lives and the ministries of the Christian Missionaries. Many had walked as their own hearts. People were offended through their lives and behaviours. Sometimes they became stumbling-blocks to the society for the gospel. Even so there were many Missionaries who followed the path of Jesus giving their lives for the benefits of others.
Nepal Government Census of 1971 has shown that there were 2541 Christians in Nepal, which is 0.02 % of the total population. And the Census of 1981 has reported that there were 3891 Christians in Nepal by the year, which is 0.03 % of total population. But the Census of 1991 has shown the greater change in the number of Christians, which are 31,289. This was 0.17 % of the total population. The greater change was shown by the Census of a 2001 in the number of the Christians, which is 101,976. That is 0.45% of the total populations. This was more than 226 % of growth. The Christians are the most increasing religious group in Nepal today. Though the Census had shown such a great growth, the Christians in Nepal still do not believe the number shown by the Census. They argue that there must be more than the given number by the census. So National Church Survey of Nepal in the operation of the Nepal Research and Resource Network had done a survey in 2007. According to their work there are about 2799 churches throughout Nepal and in Kathmandu valley only there are 309 churches. According to Nepal Research and Resource Network total population of Christians in Nepal by 2007 is 3,79,042. It is 1.46 % of total population of Nepal.
Though the number of Christians were growing rapidly in Nepal doctrinal foundation was not laid properly. As a result doctrinal positions of the churches of Nepal were not stable. Nepalese churches were much influenced through the modern charismatic movements. Churches were going through the clouds of confusing doctrines. In 1979 David Cloud, a Baptist missionary from USA came and preached the word of God in Nepal. And through the help of Indian Missionary Maken Sanglir, Swiss Missionary Thomas Kaufmann, Native Leaders Ps. U. J. Gurung (Udi Jung Gurung), Elder Ganesh Bahadur Tamang, Kathmandu Baptist Church was established with doctrinal foundations. It was a strong church doctrinally. Through this church many other churches were established throughout Nepal. Doctrines became important factor for the churches of Nepal by then.
Nepal is being changed through the gospel of God. Many Hindus and Buddhists are being converted by trusting in Jesus Christ as the Saviour and the Lord. Even in the period of Moiost insurgency many became Christians. Still there are many places and people who are not reached with the gospel of God.
Ps. U. J. Gurung
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