*Representative photo used to protect identity.
On Saturday, April 25, Nepal was hit by a powerful earthquake that killed thousands of people within a few minutes. The magnitude was reecorded as 7.8 on the Richter scale. The death toll has reportedly reached over 7,000 and the number injured over 14,000. Destruction was enormous. Both communication and travel in Nepal has become a challenge. Telephone lines and cell-phone towers have been destroyed and many roads are blocked.
In Nepal, Saturday is observed as the day to attend church services, rather than Sunday. So when the earthquake hit the country, most Christians were inside churches. Nepal is very close to northern India and there are many evangelists and pastors from Nepal serving in India. Many are closely linked with the churches in northeastern India. As a result, the Open Doors (OD) team in India was able to connect to a few affected churches and secure information.
Kumar Singh Bisht, a reporter from Good News FM (a radio channel in Nepal which spreads the gospel), reported on the loss incurred by Canaan Church in Sukedhara, Kathmandu. The earthquake hit as the church members were praying. The church building was destroyed and 23 people died on the spot when the building fell. Thirty-seven church members were seriously injured and were taken to the nearby hospital. The pastor of the church, Nima Sherpa, was also injured while his wife, Sushma Sherpa, was killed when the church building collapsed. Pastor Lalbahadur Limbu, who had come as a guest speaker to the church, was also injured and is in critical condition.
The death of 17 people was reported by another church, Mukt Mandali in Sitapaila, Kathmandu. As the people were conducting the Saturday church service, the earthquake hit and destroyed the church building. Several church members were injured.
There were other churches that suffered substantial damage. The walls of Kupondole Navjivan Church in Kathmandu collapsed. Believer’s Church in Kathmandu reported the critical injuries of six to seven believers.
The total number of Christian deaths has yet to be confirmed; however, according to many local pastors, the number is roughly over 100. Numerous churches, particularly in the Kathmandu Valley, have been severely affected by the earthquake.
Open Doors is still waiting for the situation to stabilize so OD workers can obtain more information.
“The number of Christians who died and those who have been affected is certainly greater,” mentions local Christian Janak Raj Sharma. “We are not connected with many churches because the telephone lines and cell-phone towers are not working.”
Pastor Ramesh Bisht from Kathmandu, who works as a missionary for Vineyard Church in Nepal, reported that the houses belonging to many of his church members have been destroyed and the believers are spending nights out in the open.
The Indian government is providing help through para-military forces. There are numerous NGOs and other organizations that are rushing in to provide help to the people in the city. Churches in India are also seen to be helping; however, Pastor Bisht reported that many Christians are being neglected in the relief efforts.
“It is shocking that, even after so many days, none of us have received even 2 pounds of rice or anything else from the government or any NGOs,” he said. “Our church members are sharing their remaining food. Shops are closed. There is a terrible crisis here.”
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.