A court in Nepal has found four Christians guilty of ‘witchcraft’ and ‘violence’ and sentenced them to five years imprisonment.
According to World Watch Monitor, the crime the Christians committed was ministering to Seti Pariyar who had been sent to a prayer meeting in June last year by her father-in-law who thought Seti might be possessed by demons.
Seti, who struggled with some type of mental illness, attended the prayer meeting, but left early fleeing into a nearby forest.
After the prayer meeting ended, members of the church found Seti screaming in the forest and self harming. After praying for her, the group took the woman to her home.
A few weeks later, a local businessman shared the incident with the local media who wrote a story on what took place at the church.
When news of this came to light, a local resident filed a complaint with the police on the incident, who arrested five Christians and accused them of trying to convert Seti to Christianity.
They also accused them of practicing ‘witchcraft’ and ‘kidnapping.’ The five remained in jail until their court date.
At their trial in District Court of Salyan in Western Nepal near the India border, Seti and her husband testified that she had not been kidnapped or treated violently by the group. Seti also told the court that the prayers of the Christians had healed her of mental illness.
Yet despite her testimony, the court found the four of the group guilty and sentenced them to prison. A fifth person was found not guilty.
The witchcraft accusation is eerily similar to what happened to Jesus. In Matthew 12, some people brought a demon-possessed man to Jesus who immediately healed him.
Stunned, the people began to wonder who Jesus was?
To counter Christ’s growing popularity, the pharisees tried to discredit the Lord by making the bizarre accusation that He was able to do these deliverances because He was in league with the devil:
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (Matthew 12:24 NASV)
When Peter and John healed a lame man who for years had begged for alms in front of the temple, the authorities actually threw the two disciples into jail (Acts 4:3).
The reason for this reaction was many were believing in Christ because of the healing.
They then dragged the disciples before their court and demanded an explanation. In the end they decided to let the two go, but Luke reports what they said:
“Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” (Acts 4:16-17 NIV).
Similarly in the Nepal case, the woman’s deliverance had made the news and obviously some were feeling threatened by what had happened.
Gospel Herald reports that Nepal has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. According to the World Data Base, though there are only 300,000 Christians in the country, the number has tripled over the past ten years.
This phenomenal growth may in fact be underestimated. Many suspect the number of Christians in Nepal is significantly higher than what’s officially reported, because believers living in countries experiencing persecution tend to keep their conversions private.
Nepal, population 27 million, is bordered by China to the North and surrounded on its western, southern and eastern borders by India. Though it declared itself a secular nation in 2007, 83% of the population is Hindu and many believe Hindus from India are actively influencing both the political and religious life of Nepal.
Last year, in what some believe was little more than a veiled threat, Hindu extremists in Nepal demanded all Christian missionaries leave the country.