Voice of the Martyrs, 24th August 2023 (excerpts)
Pema Ongmo, 27, was raised in an animist family and had never heard about Christ until a friend shared the gospel and invited her to church. Her father, a village leader, found out and forbade her to read the Bible the pastor had given her. But she started reading the Bible secretly and began to follow Christ. Her mother became ill, and her father spent all the family’s resources looking for a cure.
Pema told her father that the Jesus she read about in the Bible healed many people. Her father agreed to let his wife go to the church, where she was healed. The whole family eventually placed their trust in Christ. “Thank you for the wonderful Bibles you freely gave us,” Pema said. “I thank you and ask the Lord to bless you richly!”
Until the 1980s, Bhutan was isolated from the rest of the world by its Himalayan geography, poor infrastructure and poor international relations. In 2008, the country adopted a multiparty constitutional democracy and implemented a new constitution that affords a greater level of religious freedom. Most Christians in Bhutan are of Nepali heritage, and believers are focused on reaching the ethnic Bhutanese with the message of Christ.
88 percent of the Bhutanese people are Buddhists. Approximately 1 percent are Christians. The king identifies himself as the defender of the Buddhist faith, and the government works covertly to discourage the spread of Christianity. Christians are viewed as followers of a foreign, Western religion. There is no opportunity for the legal registration of churches in Bhutan. Christians often lose their jobs and are unable to find work because of their faith. Many Christians must worship in secret.