More People Turning to Christ in Nepal, Which Now Hosts Over 1 Million Believers and 8,000 Churches

Nepalese Christians pray during their National Convention in Kathmandu.Reuters

More and more people in Nepal are turning to Christianity ever since the predominantly Hindu nation in South Asia went secular in 2008.

Nepal has over one million Christian converts at present, with the number still rising, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, adding that the country also hosts more than 8,000 Christian churches.

In particular, Christianity has found a growing appeal among Nepal's hill tribe minority groups, such as the Kirats and the Dalits, or those belonging to the lowest "untouchables" caste.

Data from the Federation of National Christians in Nepal (FNCN) estimate that 60 percent of all Nepali Christians are Dalits, the caste that makes up the country's population of 30 million.

Dil Maya, a 70-year-old woman from the Dalit, for instance, converted to Christianity following her husband's miraculous healing after she prayed in a church.

"My husband Dhan Bahadur fell very sick once and no doctor could cure him. Someone told me to go to a church and pray, and that was how I first came here," Maya told Nikkei Asian Review.

"It healed my husband, and I felt healed, too because for the first time in my life, I felt accepted by a community. No one accepted me before. I feel accepted here," she said.

Not everyone who is converting to Christianity in Nepal, however, belongs to the lower caste. For instance, M.J. Shah, who came from a royal family, also converted to Christianity after living a life of sin.

"Before, I was a gambler, a fighter, a drinker and a drug user. I used to beat people up. I was terrible," admitted Shah, who found Christ in 2005.

He also shared how he appreciates the sense of belongingness that come with Christianity. "One thing I like about Christians is they believe all Christians belong to one family," he said.

Chandra Man Nepali, FNCN's vice general secretary, meanwhile, said the earthquake that hit Nepal in April last year helped Christianity grow in the country.

"Where the government was not able to reach, there were the Christians. We went to the hard-to-reach districts with food, water and medical supplies. We had funding from the churches outside. In this way, Christians were more helpful to society," Nepali said.