A late spring surge of a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 in India and Nepal claimed thousands of lives, affecting the Christian community in both countries, according to sources.
Many church leaders have died, which is putting some Christian ministries in both countries at risk of closing, said the relief group Barnabas Fund.
Making the situation even worse is an epidemic of black fungus, which is infecting some recovering COVID-19 patients in India and Nepal. Black fungus can maim or kill those infected, Barnabas Fund stated.
Thousands of church leaders dead
A Barnabas Fund project partner in India reports that more than 2,000 pastors and church leaders have succumbed to COVID-19. At least 40 ministries are in danger of closing because their leaders have died and there is no one qualified to assume leadership.
A May 17 report of Vatican News states that 160 Catholic church leaders died during the period from April 10 to May 17.
The situation in Nepal is serious as well.
“We are losing many pastors and leaders – even this morning, we lost two pastors,” a Christian leader in Nepal told Barnabas Fund on May 26. “Situation is very, very bad right now. More than 150 pastors and leaders are in (the) hospital, isolating and COVID-19 positive. Many poor Christians have no food to eat. We have already experienced starvation.”
Open Doors, a group raising awareness of the persecution of Christians, stated that believers often are not receiving relief and assistance that their fellow villagers do.
Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, Christians whose neighbors or village had denied them access to food supplies or the water source could go to other towns to get what they needed. The lockdowns have squelched that.
In addition, the entities responsible for distributing government and non-government aid and food rations frequently overlook or exclude Christians, said Open Doors.
About 4% of India’s population and about 5% of Nepal’s population are Christians, said Barnabas Fund.
India ranks No. 10 and Nepal No. 34 on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.
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