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A Tiny Village Turns to Christ

From Gospel for Asia

ANS (12/15/06) — What’s a missionary to do when God says “go,” but the government says “no?” Gospel for Asia missionary Benita listened to God, and thanks to her faithfulness there are nine new Christian households in Bhutan.

Benita and fellow missionary, Rana, were working with believers in a fellowship group Benita had planted in a southern Bhutan village. Both of these women sensed a strong burden to share the love of Christ with the people in a tiny neighboring village. There are only nine families in this next-door village, but reaching out to them would not be simple. Benita and Rana’s activities had already drawn the attention of local government officials, who had the two women arrested.

The Gospel is perceived as a threat to the country’s majority Buddhist religion, and even to its indigenous identity. Freedom of religion is written into the country’s laws, but Buddhism is the official, recognized state religion, and it is illegal for a Buddhist to become a Christian. It is illegal to build a Christian church, and Christians are only allowed to practice their faith at home. Christian missionaries are barred from entering Bhutan.

Benita and Rana were released from police custody with strict orders to stay out of the neighboring village where they so desperately wanted to share the Gospel. Government officials continued to harass the women, who reluctantly made the decision that it was time to discontinue their joint ministry. Benita continued to serve the small fellowship in Dagana. Rana headed west, back to her home state of Samtse in southeastern Bhutan. In spite of the trials, God blessed each woman’s individual ministry.

Benita and Rana continued to be burdened for that one small village where they were now forbidden to travel. The two women continued to lift the village up in prayer, seeking a way to share the Gospel with these nine households.

In October, Benita decided that she had waited long enough. She boldly sneaked into the village, where she was met by shocked but excited faces. These villagers were ready to hear about Jesus! For two days Benita shared the Gospel with these nine households. Every single person in the village received Jesus as their Savior during those two days! More than 25 are following up with public professions of their new faith.

That may sound like a small thing, but in a country that has only an estimated 3,000 Christians, it can be considered a major victory for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

GFA’s Bhutan leaders ask for prayer for the spiritual nourishment of these new believers who do not have a pastor to shepherd them. They also ask for prayer that God will continue to use Benita and Rana in their individual ministries.