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Tigers Nest Monastery, Nepal

After praying for a mentally ill woman, four Nepali Christians were sentenced in December 2016 to five years in prison for alleged "violence and witchcraft." Thankfully, their sentences were recently overturned and they have all been released. Lali Pun, Bimkali Budha, Ruplal Pariyar and his wife Ganga, were initially found guilty at the District Court in Salyan -- a district in western Nepal -- even though the woman had testified in court that their prayer had ultimately resulted in her healing. A fifth Christian, Rupa Thapa, was found not guilty.

The five had been imprisoned since July 2016 for "witchcraft, forceful imprisonment and violence," despite the presentation of an additional testimony from the healed woman's husband confirming their innocence. Along with being interrogated for these charges, the believers were further questioned at each court hearing to determine if they had made any attempts to convert their alleged victim -- an issue that was not listed on the charge sheet.

The mentally ill woman, Seti, had been sent by her father-in-law, a former Christian, to a local church for prayer with concerns that she was "possessed by demons." Witnesses reported that Seti left the church before the conclusion of the prayer service, and was later found shouting and inflicting harm to herself in a nearby forest.

More than a month later, a local businessman gave an account of the incident to the local media. On the basis of that media report, a complaint was filed against the five Christians, who were then arrested and subsequently sentenced under Nepal's new constitution which outlaws proselytism. Local church leaders announced at the time that they believed the five had been targeted because they were minority Christians.

While we can thank the Lord for the recent release of these imprisoned believers, please join us in praying that they will be strengthened as they recover from the ordeal. Although Christianity is considered a minority religion in their country, we can be assured from God's Word that these believers will be further unified and strengthened through the power of prayer. Despite any threats they may receive from those who oppose their faith, pray that they will continue to be courageous in their ministry service, and that their 'labour of love' will be mightily used to extend God's Kingdom in Nepal.