Nepal - (Asia)

Information about Nepal

147181 square kilometres
Hindu 90%, Buddhist 5%, Muslim 3%, Christians 0.58% (Prot 0.56%, RCath 0.02%) other 2%
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

The Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal dates back to the 8th century B.C. when the Gopal and Ahir dynasties arrived from India and, later, the Kirats from Tibet. The country’s history has been shaped by numerous struggles among dozens of local principalities, and by regular strife with its neighbors Tibet and India as well as with the British and the East India Company. In the second half of the 18th century the country was unified under the first king of the present dynasty.
Calling itself “the world’s only Hindu Kingdom” (Hinduism was the state religion until 1990), Nepal remained officially closed to Christian missions until the 1950s when a change of government brought an end to isolation and an openness to foreign aid.
In 1953 the first Prot were called into the country to build a hospital. They received other Prot groups and missions into this project, thus creating in 1954 the United Mission to Nepal (UMN), an interconfessional organization. At that time Prot missions, as well as Nepalis converted to the Christian faith in India, entered the country. Their activities were restricted to aid and development. Churches had no legal entity and could not own property. The pastors would often support themselves, and they usually had no formal training. There were no denominational structures; most churches practiced adult baptism only.
Today UMN includes over 40 agencies and churches with more than 400 staff. They are active all over Nepal in the fields of health, education, and development. They all continue to have their headquarters outside Nepal. Other active organizations include the Nepal Evangelistic Band, the International Nepal Fellowship (deals with lepers), and the Evangelical Alliance Mission (medical care).
Since the revolution in 1990, freedom of religion is granted. Foreign Christians (including many Indian groups) have been active, and Western-style denominations have grown rapidly. Today the vast majority of local churches are, however, independent or loose members of one of the church fellowships (Nepal Church Fellowship, Agape Christian Fellowship, Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Nepal). Though every religion now has a right to maintain its religious places and institutions, it has proved difficult to register with the government. Christians continue to face difficulties since hostility to this “foreign religion” and discrimination in education and employment are still common and persecutions in villages or extended families are regularly reported. Accurate statistical information is not available. A widely quoted figure in 1996 is 240,000 Christians. The vast majority belong to groups such as the Assemblies of God, Foursquare Gospel Church, Bapt Church, and Evangelical Friends Church.


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