We’ve been back about a week from Nepal and I have been reflecting on the trip. One of the first things that struck me was Christmas Day.
You see, until just a few years ago, Nepal was a Hindu Kingdom; there was no celebration of Christmas. But for 2008, the new interim government declared Christmas an official holiday. I thought it was pretty cool. Everywhere we went, all the people were wishing us a Merry Christmas (only many spelled it “marry” but oh well). However, the deeper you looked, you realized that they had no idea what was going on. While my Nepali wasn’t great, I heard on the radio the DJ’s explaining what Christmas is. And with the huge tourism industry in Nepal, they and the local newspapers would give details of what goes on in the different countries of the world. When it came to the USA, the emphasis was more on Santa Claus than Christ. All around the city you would see trees decorated and pictures of Santa Claus (or Saint Nick if you wish).
On Christmas day, I and the team were heading from our hotel to spend the afternoon with some of the missionaries their in town. We had a great day of eating a big meal, talking, laughing, and sharing Christmas stories. As we were leaving, our taxi driver told me that around our hotel, they were getting ready to have a big Christmas program. (Now, “program” is the English translation and can mean anything from an official ceremony to a party.) I thought it was interesting that the Christmas was getting its own program. In my Western, Judeo-Christian mindset, I envisioned one thing. When we returned that evening, we found something completely different. . . The Christmas program was actually a massive street dance party thrown by a local beer company. I am not great at estimating, but I would bet there were about 3-5,000 people dancing and grinding and celebrating Christmas (many drunk beyond belief) in the middle of the street. Our taxi let us out right by the stage and we then had to push our way through the masses to get to the street our hotel is on. Luckily, being 6’5″ helps in this situation, but the sadness till weighs on my heart. This country that has been locked in Hinduism for its entire existance is finally “free” to celebrate Christmas and here are 5,000 of the next generation in a giant street rave.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town earlier in the day, one local church publicized that they were having a Christmas fellowship. They were expecting about 200 people to show up and their last count had over 400 people! So here in Nepal, the same name was given to 2 Christmas celebrations, yet they could not have been more different. I remember laying in bed that night just burdened for this younger generation who could care less about Christianity or Hinduism or Buddhism. They seem to only be concerned about their own image, wants, and desires. One of the pastors that we met even called this age group agnostics. The Devil doesn’t let go of them easily; he just moves them from one lost cause to another, from worship of false gods to worship of themself as god, from tradition to rebellion. Lord, may You draw these people to Yourself.
May the numbers continue to increase in the church outreach and decrease in the street raves.