Morning Star News | April 3, 2020
Police arrested two pastors in Nepal on Saturday (March 28), falsely charging them with holding worship services amid the Himalayan country’s lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, sources said.
Police jumped over a locked gate and intruded into the Nissi Church building in Surkhet District, Karnali Province as 69-year-old pastor Mohan Gurung and other Christians who live on the church premises were chatting, Pastor Gurung said.
“Why are you gathered here? Will your Jesus save if you contract coronavirus?” the officers said as they badgered him, Pastor Gurung said.
The pastor, also known as Solomon Gurung, told Morning Star News that he was not holding a worship service but was spending time with his family and assistant pastors and their families, who also live on the church premises.
“But the police had jumped off the gate, barged inside the premises and accused me of holding a worship service,” Pastor Gurung said. “My attempts to explain to them that I was not holding a worship service failed, as they had already determined to arrest me.”
After the government’s March 24 order of a full lockdown, he had announced that worship services were suspended, the pastor told Morning Star News.
“I also had stuck handbills on the walls of the church about coronavirus and safety measures to be followed and had kept the gate locked since government announced a lockdown on March 24,” he said.
On March 28 his family and the assistant pastors’ families who live on the church premises sat down together and were casually chatting about coronavirus and recent developments in the world, he said.
“I was having family time chatting and studying the Bible,” he told Morning Star News. “My wife and I consider the young pastors helping us in the ministry as our own family, and they also live in the same compound. We have meals together, sit and pray as a family.”
Normally at least 800 people attend worship services on Saturdays, and members had folded and put away carpets and cleared the furniture from the worship area on March 21, Pastor Gurung said.