An estimated 80,000 Nepalis live in the UK, and their (relatively) high rate of immigration makes them one of the fastest-growing ethnic minority groups in the nation.
A recent study shows that Nepalis in the UK follow a variety of religions and, as in Nepal, many people practise a mix of religions. In the study, 42% follow Hinduism, then Buddhists make up 29%, and only 2.2% of those surveyed are Christians. Even in the UK, Nepalis risk ostracism from family and community if they decide to follow Jesus.
Karuna* is one of those Nepali followers of Jesus. About five years ago, with other ex-Gurkha families, Karuna left the hills above Pokhara, Nepal, and settled in Farnborough, Hampshire. She became a Christian not long after, and is now a leading light in the local Nepali fellowship. She lives with her extended family, who are mostly Buddhist, and often requests prayer for her family to come to know the Lord: “Please especially pray for my daughter-in-law; she persecutes me terribly for following Jesus! It causes division in our family and I feel so alone.”
TEE is proving to be a very useful tool for encouraging Nepali believers and teaching them how to share their faith. Sarita* was part of a TEE group studying the course Abundant Life, during which she was taught about how to share her faith. She then agreed to be interviewed at an outreach event, in front of a large group of Buddhist ex-Gurkhas, about what Jesus had done in her life. Normally very quiet and reserved, Sarita instead felt confident enough to share her testimony about how she’d come to the Lord, and how she’d had to make a stand with her Buddhist family and receive their disapproval. But, she said, in praying for them and particularly for her mother, who was very sick at that time, she saw God’s power healing her mother; her family were really impressed by her faith and it changed their attitude to her.
“I’ve never shared that part of my story in public before,” Sarita admitted afterwards. “But doing TEE has really helped me have confidence.”
Prakash* is an ex-Gurkha who works as a lorry driver. Last year he had to go back to Nepal to see his family, and was really worried about it because they were Hindus. However, he too had learned how to share his faith with others through the TEE course he was studying. After the visit he came back radiant and excited, because, he said, “I’ve been able to put in practice all I learned in that [TEE] session; it told me exactly how to share my faith with them.”
Back in Farnborough, a local church holds a weekly mums’ English conversation club called ‘Coffee Break’. Tara* is a bright young mum keen to integrate into British society to improve her English. Most mums at Coffee Break – including Tara – are Buddhists, but they now attend the church and get to hear more about Jesus. Tara says, “But I already know a little bit about Christianity: my mother-in-law is a Christian.” Yes, you guessed it, Tara is the daughter-in-law Karuna had requested prayer for.
*Names have been changed