KATHMANDU Saturday is the one day off in Nepal's working week and therefore has become the holy day for Nepal's growing Christian community. At the Nepal Isai Mandali-Gyaneshwor Church in Kathmandu, about 300 Christians gather every Saturday to pray, sing hymns, listen to bible sermons and praise the Lord, many of them reverently raising their hands to the ceiling and shouting out "Hallelujah," "Trust in Jesus" and "Amen." The Nepali congregation provides a glimpse of what early Christian communities might have been like -- simple, friendly and egalitarian -- before Rome took over.
"One thing I like about Christians is they believe all Christians belong to one family," said M.J. Shah, whose own family are descendants of the Shah monarchs who ruled Nepal for more than two centuries. When the country's absolute monarchy ended in 2008, so did the reign of its last king, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, and the former Hindu kingdom was set on the path to a secular democracy.