Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bhutan’s On My Mind

It’s been many years that as a church we used to pray regularly for our neighboring countries including Bhutan. But we had never imagined that one day we’d have these very Bhutanese people in our church. Since the beginning of this year we’ve been having students and other people from Bhutan visiting our church regularly. On one Sunday there were not less then 11 people – all from Bhutan. The Lord is gradually leading us as a church to reach out to them. A week ago the father of one of the girl who’s studying here in Shillong had arrived from Bhutan to see her. On Sunday he attended our fellowship and after the meeting invited me and another brother, Markus to visit the house where his daughter along with other student girls are living. The occasion was her birthday and the father asked me to come and pray for her. He made it sound as if it wasn’t going to be a gaiety one. But later that evening we found a well prepared room and table waiting us. There were quite a good number of her friends, young men and women who had been invited to the celebration and most of them were Buddhist studying here in Shillong. After some chitchat and songs I was asked to share few things from the Word of God. And that was the occasion for me, besides encouraging the birthday daughter, to actually share the Gospel to the rest. One of the belief of the Buddhists is that one shouldn’t criticize others' religion. So preaching Christ to them directly is actually doing just that – that is, criticizing them indirectly since you’re trying to prove that your God is the true one and theirs isn’t. As such special occasions like a believer’s birthdays, etc. becomes the best opportunity to preach the gospel to them because that way you’re addressing both the Christian and the Buddhist crowd generally. Markus and I were wondering whose birthday to celebrate next.

I’m also having a vision of meeting regularly with these students from Bhutan, especially with those who’re already Christian and through them to build bridges to the others in their community. In this endeavor I cannot but thank God for the brother I mentioned above – Markus who’s working with the Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) here in Shillong. Born in Bhutan, Markus is from the Nepali community and grew up in Darjeeling. It’s been over a year now since he’s been to Shillong serving the CCC by reaching out to college students. He’s been quite instrumental in making the connection with some of these Bhutanese students. He’s also doing a CCC program called Agape Discovery Group (ADG) with some of them. However, I suggested him that we shouldn’t leave them content only as a Bible study group but rather take it further to actually integrate them into church life. That way they’ll grasp better and carry with them the vision of what a church is wherever they go after the completion of their studies. (PS. Yesterday evening we met with them for fellowship and a young Buddhist man sat right from the beginning to the end as I shared the Gospel with him and others. Please pray that more would be added in this gathering).

Besides the various ethnic people, the Nepalese also comprise a large number of populations in Bhutan. And when it comes to Christianity it’s basically the Nepalese who are Christians. However, other ethnic Bhutanese tribes are also gradually coming to the saving knowledge of Christ now. Recently Bhutan went through a major political change. Democracy was introduced although with limited freedom. Churches can meet for worship but only within the perimeter of the four walls of their houses. They aren’t allowed to hold their meetings in public places and halls (ever heard of imposed house church by the state?J).

Please pray for our ministry among these Bhutanese students and that the Lord would also open doors to Bhutan in the near future.

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