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Nepal is a small country of 27.8 million people, sandwiched between the vast nations of India and China. The Nepali language is mother tongue to 16 million, and lingua franca to many more. Besides in Nepal, the language is spoken in parts of India and Bhutan. It is derived from Sanskrit, the foundation shared by several neighbouring languages.
Christianity in Nepal
For much of the religious history of Nepal, Christians suffered persecution and suspicion. Their faith was sometimes banned, whilst at other times they had to live quiet, inconspicuous lives to avoid open persecution. Christianity in name first reached the country when Roman Catholic Capuchin monks were invited there in 1715. In time these monks were suspected of being spies and were thus banished with their followers to India. However, the arrival of better things was not to be deferred for many more years! In 1793 William Carey arrived in Calcutta, India, and helped to set up a printing press which led to the publication of Scriptures in forty different languages. The Nepali New Testament was published in 1821 and quickly began to infiltrate the borders of Nepal. Those who were converted were expelled to Darjeeling, India, where they waited until the late 1800s for re-entry into Nepal. Another period of expulsion followed, but by the 1950s Christian missionaries and other foreigners were again permitted in Nepal. Whilst their religion was now accepted proselytisation was banned. However, Christ had said that He would build His church, and even under such persecution many real converts were made. The Nepali speaking church continues to grow today.
The New Testament was published in 1821, but it would take nearly a century for the whole Bible to appear, produced by the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) in 1914. However, between the publication of the New Testament and the complete Bible the BFBS had moved away from using the Greek Received Text and tended towards less formal translation principles, leaving a less than reliable Bible. In 1979 American missionaries working in Nepal had a burden to produce a better Nepali Bible, returning not only to the sound underlying Greek text but also improving the language itself, which had become outdated. A native Nepali speaker based in Darjeeling and a Swiss missionary in Nepal undertook the task of a new translation using sound principles, and in the 1990s the New Testament was published, followed in 2011 by the whole Bible. The TBS Nepali Bible is principally in the Nepali dialect spoken in India, although efforts were made to ensure that it could be read by Nepali speakers worldwide.
The Lord has blessed the circulation of tens of thousands of TBS Nepali Bibles over recent years, and it has been in high demand among a wide range of conservative congregations and denominations. An audio edition of the New Testament has been produced, and a Braille version is in preparation.