South Asia

If They Put You in Jail, Plant a Church

Pastor Joseph Babu heard the heavy iron gates lock behind him. He carefully shuffled around the wooden pallets covered in urine-soaked, scummy, lice-infested blankets. He gagged. The bucket toilet, covered in flies, occupied one corner, so he silently walked to another in the dark, bone-chilling concrete room. Bugs scattered as he crouched down and began reading his book. One man, rolled up in a ball, rocked back and forth and sobbed. Criminals with dark-set eyes stared at him. He heard malicious laughs from the yellow-toothed men that shared his space. Babu ignored them and showed no fear as they murmured among themselves and exchanged questioning glances with one another.

Soon these curious cellmates inched closer to see what he was reading. It was a Bible. Babu shared with the puzzled prisoners about Jesus and his love for all men—good and evil alike.

A murderer in Babu’s cell suffered from a severe leg infection and was in great pain. He asked, “Can your Jesus heal me?” Babu laid hands on the warm, swollen, festering area and prayed. By the following morning, the redness disappeared and the pain was gone.

The news spread rapidly, and other prisoners came to Babu, asked questions, and received healing. A group of believers formed, and the jailer realized there were no more fights in the cell. It was quiet and peaceful. The curious jailer came to a morning prayer meeting, then the evening meeting, then he started attending regularly. After accepting Christ, he even set aside a place within the compound where the growing crowd could assemble and pray.

During Babu’s sentence, 300 prisoners came to Christ and a church was established inside the jail. Babu’s wife supplied 150 Bibles to the prisoners. Released inmates began their own congregations, and those who were sent to other prisons spread the gospel wherever they went.

Persevering through persecution

Pastor Babu was born into a high-caste Hindu family in Nepal. He became a Christian in 1986 after he saw God miraculously heal his mother of a terminal disease. During his ministry, Maoists, Hindu extremists, and other anti-Christians have tried to snuff out his life. His house was robbed and burned. His main church was locked up and his orphanage was closed down. He has served two other jail terms on trumped-up charges of rape, child trafficking, and the possession of drugs and weapons. He, his wife, and three daughters have had to flee in the night numerous times.

Despite the setbacks, he has served 33 years in Nepal and planted 25 churches. One of his daughters recently wrote, “We continuously face obstacles, but God encourages all of us with Matthew 5:11–12: “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets before you.”

ANM partners with six ministries in Nepal representing hundreds of missionaries like Babu. With help from ANM donors they have planted nearly 700 churches, served underprivileged children and women, spread the gospel through radio and television, and trained workers in theology and evangelism. Through this network, ANM also sent immediate relief and ongoing reconstruction aid after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

God is at work in this beautiful country of Mount Everest, the birthplace of Buddha. Persecution is real, but the Lord is building his kingdom, one Babu at a time.


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