USA (MNN) — Decades ago, Nepalese farmers were invited to come and put their agricultural skills to use in Bhutan. Around twenty years ago, those Nepalese were invited to leave.
Some tried to return to Nepal, but mostly to no avail. They attempted to take refuge in India, but little ground was gained there either. Around that time, the United Nations stepped in and provided refugee camps around the globe for these refugees.
According to the Bhutanese Refugee Support Group, 1/6 of Bhutan's people have sought asylum in other nations since 1991. 105,000 Bhutanese have spent more than 15 years living in refugee camps.
Only in the last few years have they begun to start new lives outside of refugee camps in nations including the United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway.
Exact numbers are unclear, but it's certain that the number of Bhutanese refugees resettling in the U.S. is on the rise. Tom Dudenhofer with Audio Scripture Ministries says there are now Bhutanese refugees "in Spokane, in Boston, in Dallas, Lansing-Michigan, Grand Rapids-Michigan, Chicago, Seattle, the Bronx (New York)," and more.
Anyone familiar with ASM would usually associate their work of recording the Scriptures into audio formats and distributing digital audio players with nations such as India or Mozambique, not the U.S. But in recent months, ASM has not only taken note of the swell in number of Bhutanese in the States, but the ministry has made this group an intentional part of their outreach.
Many of these refugees can't read. Providentially, ASM provides audio Scriptures mainly for this demographic.
"We're encouraging people to think about the possibility of triggering a little missions outreach right in their own town. Look for some of these people who usually are not in plain sight; then discretely and gently with love see if any of these folks that would appreciate the opportunity to listen to God's Word in their own language," says Dudenhofer.
As ASM has distributed audio players with the Scriptures loaded on them in the Nepali language, they have found people to be open to what the Gospels say.
"[The refugees] have had a rough life for the last 20 years, living in these refugee camps. Now, upon finding a country that actually is friendly to them and wants them, they're just very, very open," explains Dudenhofer.
If you know Bhutanese refugees in your own area, or even refugees from other nations, start to build relationships with them. Contact ASM, and when the timing is right, consider giving audio players to the refugees, with Scriptures in their own language. Pray, and see what God does when you do missions right in your own backyard.
If you have questions about obtaining audio Scriptures, contact ASM here.