The Kingdom of Bhutan, a tiny landlocked nation nestled within the folds of the Himalayas between India and China, has been protected from outside influences for many years. To guard their culture, the nation did not allow tourists to visit Bhutan until 1974, and neither television nor internet was allowed until 1999.
The fourth king of Bhutan made many changes during his reign, and in 2006, aged 50, he handed the throne to his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, an Oxford-educated young man who has ushered in an era of greater democracy to the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Many years ago their king declared, “Gross national happiness is more important than gross national product.” Today, Bhutan is ranked eighth happiest nation in the world.
Buddhism is not just a religion in Bhutan, it is a “way of life” and at least 75% of the population are Buddhists. The official religion is Drukpa Kaygu, closely related to Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhists believe there is no God and no soul. They teach that the only way to attain peace is by emptying oneself of all human desires, which they believe cause all suffering. They believe the consequences for deeds of the present life, good or bad, will be carried over into the next life in a constant cycle of reincarnation. Many make offerings and pray to Buddha and other saints, hoping that their good works will earn enough merit to better their lives in their next reincarnation. Most Bhutanese believe they must live many more lives to escape the cycle of reincarnation, which fosters a sense of hopelessness and resignation – in spite of the national reputation.*
Pastor I told us about his work in Bhutan: N was born and brought up as a Buddhist. When he was 22 years old he began to go against the rule of the Government of Bhutan. He got into fights and was involved in alcohol addiction and gang crime. Every day he was quarrelling and fighting and none of the community people wanted to see him. All the people were beating him and he was about to die. So lastly he came to me and I told him about the Lord Jesus Christ. He repented and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. He became so happy that he had received new life that he would go preaching door to door every day. However there’s a rule in Bhutan that we are not allowed to preach the Gospel. Someone reported him and suddenly the police came and arrested him on the spot and he has spent ten years in prison. His wife M and two sons have faced many challenges and we are helping them with money for food but it’s not sufficient for them. They are so needy.
There are lots of challenges and financial needs in our ministry. We have 12 house churches in different places in Bhutan but we cannot build a church building. We cannot openly preach the gospel or distribute tracts. Please pray for the opening of the door for the Gospel.
*Source: Bhutan 30-Day Prayer Guide, International Missions Board