By MK Henderson
Special to ASSIST News Service
POKHARA, NEPAL (ANS) -- It is Easter 2007, a day when the world is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. They came from near and far throughout Central and Midwestern Nepal, the throng of masses converging and marching through the center of the crown city of Pokhara, at the foot of the Annapurna mountain range. No, this is not another Communist Maoist rally that we see so often these days, but it is a rally of men and women, boys and girls joyfully lifting up the banner of Jesus Christ, their Lord and King! Jesus said, â€œIf I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me!â€ Today Jesus is being lifted up in major cities in Nepal.
A feeling of anticipation and excitement is in the air as crowds are being drawn to the Savior. It is also a feeling of pride among the Christians as they can now openly proclaim Jesus Christ as their redeemer and liberator. For decades Christians were not allowed to preach in public and those who did were quickly thrown in jail and some tortured. Thirty some bright blue banners with huge red crosses and yellow and white letters proclaiming the names of churches, wave as a gentle breeze blows through the soccer field.
Today history is being made as thousands of Christians, non Christians, Hindus and Buddhists crowd onto the soccer field following the marchers into the arena. This is the first mass rally here to be publicized for all religions and promoted by area churches. The spirit of God rests upon the people and one easily points out the Christians, as their faces shine with the glory of God and they greet one other with â€œJaya Masiahâ€ â€“ meaning, â€œMay the blessing of Jesus be with youâ€.
After several decades of political upheaval and severe persecution of Christians â€“ only less than a year ago, Nepal was declared a secular state, no longer a Hindu Kingdom- no longer ruled by a monarchy. One of the leaders of todayâ€™s rally is familiar with large gatherings - a former Communist Maoist leader in the 1970s, Dr. Samuel Rai.
Dr. Raiâ€™s heart has always been tender towards the many oppressed people groups designated so by the caste system. Dr. Rai had joined the party to see liberty and justice come to the oppressed, but after he had a miraculous and dramatic salvation experience he came to know the true liberator- Jesus Christ. In spite of the threat of imprisonment, he soon began sharing about this deliverer with thousands in massive crusades of 50,000 plus throughout the Himalayan mountain regions.
There appears to be great unity today among the Christians in this region of Nepal as many churches are acknowledged for participating and people are welcomed by a praise and worship team singing â€œMajesty, Oh worship His Majesty, Jesus who died, now glorified King of all Kings. So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus, come magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King,â€ in the Nepali language, as the crowd joins in, displaying their adoration to the Lord.
Older people fill several thousand chairs and many young people sit on the ground. Dancers begin to dance, telling the story of Christâ€™s life and how he died for sinners. They wear gold headdresses and jewelry signifying heavenly royalty, with red and green sariâ€™s moving gracefully like that of a gazelle.
Rajesh Rai, a popular Christian singer among teenage audiences, begins to sing of his life in Christ and how he lives for the Savior. He captivates the audienceâ€™s attention as he sings a fast song and invites people to dance, rejoicing in the Lord. Another popular singer, Kapoor Kumar sings about telling the world of Jesus and his love, as ladies expressing their freedom in the Lord run to the front near the stage and begin dancing. Hearts are being prepared as the various musicians and singers enthrone the Savior. Many are in awe sitting on the ground as this is the first time they are hearing of this man who died for them. Chanda Dewan, a famous Christian / secular singer tells about her dependence upon the Lord in the good and bad times and in the rich and poor times. Many women also dance in bright colorful saris and kurtas, as Chanda sings of the joy of the Lord.
Representatives of political parties and ministers from the government were also invited to participate and were given equal time to share their hearts and agendas. Law and Administrative State Minister, Indra Gurung, spoke of his sympathy towards religious people and the discrimination they have faced, particularly the Christians. Being a Buddhist, he could relate to the persecution of other religious groups by Hindus. He stated that because Nepal is now a secular state, that ends the monopoly of Hinduism over other religions here. He declared his support of Christians and proclaimed that he will always stand for them. He said of all the religions he has studied, he found the teachings of Jesus to be the best ones about social and community life.
Subod Pyakurel, another special guest attending is the chairman of a human rights organization. Pyakurel stated that over the years Christians have been oppressed and now with the forming of a new parliament, Christians should have a representative to speak for them in the government.
Honorable Ramjeevan Singh, chairman of an interreligious group and an MP representing the Democratic Party in Parliament, also declared that all religions in Nepal should have freedom without any one group dominating, as in China and Tibet. He wants it stated clearly in the new constitution that freedom of religion is declared for all people in Nepal.
Dr Samuel Rai addresses crowd at mass rally in Pokhara (Pictured to the right)
Last but not least, Dr. Samuel Sangram Rai took the platform with shouts of Glory to God, and Praise Jesus. The crowd joined in shouting praises to the most high God. Raising high a banner with an M-16 rifle displayed he shouted, â€œWe donâ€™t need M-16s, we need John 3:16, because M-16s took many lives and John 3:16 tells us of one who gave his life so we can have eternal life.â€ He said, â€œMany have been killed but we have liberty today. Spiritual liberty must come first, before physical liberty. We can have freedom for our souls as Jesus is the way, truth and the life.â€ He continued, â€œJesus is the only way to liberty. The constitution may change but unless the hearts and minds of the people change only then can the nation change and there be lasting peace.â€
The praise and worship team sang one last song and the people lingered in the presence of God and to fellowship with one another. The day was one to be remembered by the nearly 20,000 people attending and especially those hearing of Jesus for the very first time.
About a dozen journalists covered the event and it was broadcast live on an FM radio station reaching out to 5 million people in the three hour time period. The following week Nepal Television Network broadcast a thirty minute recorded program featuring the rally, reaching 25 million viewers. Twenty thousand New Testaments were also distributed and special guests received bibles as a gift of appreciation for their attendance and participation.
Pray that there will be everlasting peace in Nepal and that the people will be able to vote in a constituent assembly election this year for the leaders of their choice. Pray for the sovereignty of God over the making of a â€œNew Nepalâ€. Pray for the new leaders in Parliament as new laws are being proposed, written and enforcedâ€¦some to cut down and eliminate the trafficking of thousands of women and children from Nepal for child labor and sex trade across the border into India.
MK Henderson is a freelance journalist living in Southeast Asia, also the founder and director of Brand New Images, Inc. a non profit 501c3 organization that advocates against trafficking of women and children in Asia and assists local NGOs involved in prevention programs to keep children at risk from being trafficked, and for the healing and restoration of those who have been recovered.