CWN.org -- As political change sweeps through the Himalayan nation of Nepal, the country's Christians are hopeful that a pastor imprisoned for nine years soon will be released.
A long guerrilla war forced the country's monarchy out of power and saw elections held for the first time in modern history. Nepal's newly-elected leadership has just declared the country a republic.
One evangelist is hoping the new leadership will grant him a reprieve. Since 1999, Gospel For Asia pastor and evangelist Manja Tamang has been serving a 20-year prison sentence for a murder he didn't commit. Tamang was falsely convicted of killing an Englishman.
Now, GFA founder and president K.P. Yohannan says Tamang may be released early. "His name is on the list. Finally we know this. It was like this two or three times, but now I'm hearing that, Lord willing, this month he will be released."
The list refers to 315 inmates who are being considered for early release. If Nepal's new Constituent Assembly approves this proposal, Manja could be released at any time. Yohannan cautioned that while he is hopeful for Manja's soon release, it could take several more months.
Manja was arrested after stumbling across the body of a murdered man. When Manja reported the incident to authorities, anti-Christian extremists accused him of being the murderer. Yohannan believes it was because of his success at preaching the gospel in the once Hindu kingdom.
"He had over 100 people come to know the Lord and baptized and a growing church in a very strong Hindu community in Nepal, and that's when they did everything to stop him," Yohannan said.
Manja has endured beatings and torture, but he has won the respect of prison officials. Yohannan says, "Everywhere he was, he led a lot of people to Christ and leading Bible studies. When prisoners are released, they're going out and joining a local church and being a witness for the Lord."
Despite the hardship, Manja says God has used the situation for good. "I don't understand all this, but whatever happens to me, it helped with the furtherance of the Gospel," he told Yohannan.
The recent elections and changes in government are thought to have delayed the release. GFA is praying that this newly-elected group will intervene in Manja's case soon.
Yohannan is asking Christians to pray. "Please pray that the government will not change their mind and they will show kindness to such an incredibly godly brother and a model prisoner. And pray for his wife and children. For years she has been waiting!"