Bhutan (MNN) — Elections this
week in Bhutan paved the way for the nation to become the world's newest
democracy. The Bhutan United Party won by a landslide.
Gospel For Asia considers Bhutan
a "closed country." Missions are allowed
to operate humanitarian projects on the condition that they do not evangelize. It is illegal for a Buddhist to become a
Christian, and Christian church buildings are forbidden.
GFA President KP Yohannan wonders
what will change now. The transition to
democracy has been orchestrated deliberately and carefully. As the Land of the Thunder Dragon reluctantly
turns from a total monarchy, there are hopes that may be realized under a new
Yohannan says GFA has been active
for years, and the elections results have brought encouragement and hope. "We
recruited Bhutanese brothers and sisters and brought them to the border. We trained them for three years in Bible and sent them back for church planting
in Bhutan. We are thrilled over this change, but if someday we would have the
freedom to publicly build church buildings and establish a Bible college, that
would be a huge blessing."
However, less than one percent of Bhutan's population is Christian. There has been a strong undercurrent of
anti-Christian sentiment. For new
believers, if they are discovered, they risk being expelled from the country, stripped
of their citizenship or harassed in other ways.
Yohannan says it's still early in
the transition, so pray "that the Lord would give wisdom for our
leaders to be sensitive to make the right decisions. I'm hoping that none of
them will go out and start sending out e-mails and newsletters and talk about
all kinds of dreams to have for Bhutan, which can quickly shut the door for us
to have greater freedom."
In spite of the
intimidation, pray that God will reveal to people their need for a Savior.