Date: November 22, 2013
(Image courtesy ben via Flickr)
Nepal (MNN) ― It's been a monumental week in Nepal as the country selects leaders who will shape its future.
In a record turnout, over 70% of the country's 12 million eligible voters cast their ballots during Tuesday's election. Officials started counting votes the next day, and early indications show a close race between Nepal's three majority parties: the Unified Marxist-Lennist, Nepali Congress, and the Maoist party.
"Winners have been named in some of the locations. There are at least three groups that are very competitive; that alone causes unrest," says Tom Dudenhofer with Audio Scripture Ministries.
Ballots are still coming in from Nepal's mountainous districts, and final results aren't expected for several days.
"It's one of those times in the history of a nation where things are just uncomfortable, unsettled; and it's a really good time to pray," Dudenhofer adds.
Over a hundred parties are vying for the power to help write Nepal's new constitution. Dudenhofer says their national partner, World Cassette Outreach of India (WCOI), has been sending updates through e-mail from the beginning.
"They were quite concerned about a protest that was taking place…their comments were that 'many vehicles have been burned, people have been killed,'" he says. "And then the second sentence: 'But we're still able to do our recordings.'"
When all of the votes have been tallied, some 601 new members will become part of the Constituent Assembly, a group designated to write a new constitution for the nation. Nepal has lacked this foundation document since 2008 when it became a secular nation instead of a Hindu kingdom.
Nationalist parties like Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal and Nepal Shivsena campaigned on a platform calling for Nepal's return to its roots. That has some Nepali believers nervous, as Nepal Shivsena vowed in its founding to "assertively oppose" conversion.
"The Hindus, in particular, have come right out and stated that they want to make the country the equivalent of a Hindu state," says Dudenhofer.
"Their basic premise is that Nepal has no identity unless it's completely Hindu."
The air of religious freedom seems to be growing thin around WCOI's fledgling audio ministry in Nepal, but according to Dudenhofer, it's not a big surprise.
"The response is something that we've sensed in Nepal anyway; there's sort of a 'benign' anti-attitude toward Christianity," he explains.
"Many people have been coming to Jesus Christ--not through any of the common channels, but most of it through a tremendous outreach through national pastors in the country. This has triggered jealousy…especially among some of the main religions in that country."
The request of ASM's partners is simple: "They want us to keep praying," Dudenhofer says.
"The final results won't be tabulated for several days yet. We can be grateful that none of this is out of control, that God is still in control, and we can trust Him to use whatever the results for His glory and for His honor down the road."
While you pray, WCOI will keep working toward the launch of a Nepali office.
"They're gonna just keep on doing [the recordings]…they're in the middle of a recording of a New Testament right now," explains Dudenhofer.
Pray that the project goes smoothly. Learn more about the ministry and outreach of ASM and WCOI here.