News and Urgent Prayer Requests from International Nepal Fellowship (INF)
Every five years, INF renews its project agreement with the Government of Nepal. We are thankful that the project agreements are progressing and have not met with any significant opposition or change, but there have been significant delays. These delays are having a huge impact on expatriate mission workers.
Ordinarily we would anticipate extensions to existing visas being given while negotiations progressed. This has not been the case this time. As a result, all expats have had to transfer onto tourist visas. The Department of Immigration have made it very clear that expats should not work on tourist visas, so all INF expats have been asked to step back from work.
There is an additional uncertainty for expats on non-medical visas as the Social Welfare Council is now stipulating that expats should hold a Master’s degree relevant to their visa post. This will have an impact on a number of people.
Over the next few weeks, all INF/UK mission personnel will be returning to the UK until the agreements have been signed. In spite of this we anticipate that almost all INF project work will continue, thanks to local capacity.
- For all expat mission personnel; for safety in travel, and for God’s peace and security while they live with uncertainty and the additional pressures that brings
- That the final stages of the agreement negotiations can proceed smoothly and quickly
- For the INF team remaining in Nepal and their ongoing work
- That God uses these unusual times to bring blessings in many ways.
A critical issue before Nepal’s Government is planned changes to laws governing religious expression, and in particular conversion from one faith to another. If passed in the current form, the restrictions will be heavier than prior to the 1990 revolution.
Article 156 of the proposed criminal code, makes it a punishable crime even to express one’s religious beliefs. A person held responsible for converting another person, propagating one’s beliefs or encouraging someone to do so, is an offender according to the proposed law and may be punished with five years of imprisonment. It is not yet clear how the law would be enforced.
Nepali Christian leaders are lobbying the government against these proposed changes and are hopeful that amendments can be made. Please pray for Christians in Nepal at this time that their lobbying will be successful.
Building Homes and Lives
Over 500,000 homes were totally destroyed in the earthquakes. Thousands of people are still living in temporary shelter which makes then very vulnerable, especially during the monsoon season (June-September), when rains make life very difficult and risks of landslides increase.
Across Nepal the construction of new earthquake resistant homes, schools or other buildings are in limbo until the Government publishes new building regulations. Please pray for clear guidance to come quickly so that rebuilding can start soon, and for God’s protection on communities who are waiting for new homes.
Every year, thousands of Nepalis migrate to other countries for work, as they can earn higher wages elsewhere. There is a concern that this is causing a shortage of skilled workers, such as stonemasons, for the reconstructions work in Nepal. Please pray that once construction work begins, enough skilled workers will be available locally to meet all needs.
For more information about INF contact 240 509
Margaret Scott Brown