Bhutan is a small South Asian country located in the Himalayan mountain range. Traditionally, Bhutan was a Buddhist kingdom dominated by Buddhism. In recent years, Bhutan has opened up to the Gospel and a small community of Bhutanese believers has been established. Unfortunately, Christianity is seen as a foreign religion contrary to the religious tradition of Bhutan. Bhutanese Christians are often ostracized from society and are forced to worship in secret to avoid persecution and discrimination. In this Open Doors interview, one pastor from Bhutan describes his experiences.
12/17/2013 Bhutan (Open Doors) - Peter leads three house fellowships in three different districts in Bhutan, but he’s not an ordained pastor. He travels to villages to meet believers, pray for them, and encourage them in their faith. In a conversation with Open Doors, the 45-year-old shares his story, as well as the challenges of ministering to minority believers in this predominantly Buddhist country.
Open Doors: How many believers are there in a typical house fellowship?
Peter: Most of the time, a house fellowship has 15-20 believers. A few have 30.
OD: How many members are in your house fellowship?
OD: You come from a strong Hindu background. When you met Christ, did you experience problems because of your faith?
P: My Buddhist boss called me one time, and asked me why I converted. He said that my religion (Christianity) was a “foreigner’s religion.” He forced me to stand for a long time in his office, thinking that I would get tired and deny Jesus. But when he saw that I was not giving in, he let me go and warned me not to hold fellowships in the workplace. “Don’t create problems!” he told me.
OD: What does ‘don’t create problems’ mean?
P: Don’t convert people. I have people working under me. My boss is afraid that I might convert those people. But I don’t force people to come to Christ. If they are interested, they can come to the house fellowship, and hear the good news.
OD: How do you manage your time, juggling between a full-time job and a ministry of three house fellowships?
P: Very tough… in some places, it is very risky to visit the believers, because the Buddhists there are hostile. They don’t like us teaching there. So I do my visits in the evening, and say I am there to visit friends.
OD: So what’s the next step for the church in Bhutan?
P: The next step should be to equip the believers biblically. What we are trying to do is to unite the leaders.