Dear Ministry Partner,
I am writing this email to introduce you to another one of our strategic national partners. For over 4 decades, we have had the joy of connecting our American partners with our international partners. These partnerships have become strategic and synergistic for the advance of the Kingdom of God in some of the most unique places on earth. One of those countries and cultures is Bhutan. This small mountainous kingdom is sandwiched between two national giants – China and India. Because of the great storms that blow in from China, it is known as the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" – which is represented on their national flag. Here are a few important statistics to help orient you:
As a Buddhist theocracy, Bhutan has been totally closed to all other "foreign religions" for centuries – especially Christianity. Thus, no foreign missionaries are granted visas to visit or live in the country. Tourism is highly regulated by the Government with only a few thousand visas granted annually.
However, for several decades, there has been a quiet "underground church" movement growing in the country. This has been almost exclusively led by nationals Christian evangelists and missionaries from the neighboring countries of India and Nepal. We have been in partnership with some of those key national missionaries for a couple of decades. One of our training centers and launching pads for ministry inside of Bhutan has been the city of Jaigaon. It is a border town between India and Bhutan through the famous Phuentsholing Gate. We have build churches, agape homes for pastors, a training center and the Bethany Children's Home there. We have also held a number of conferences in the Jaigaon region for pastors, refugees and women.
One of our key young leaders there is Markus Mukhia. He is a relatively new partner of 5 or so years, Markus was born into a Hindu home in Bhutan. Struggling between his Hindu home life and the teachings in his Buddhist school, he was miserable. He developed a form of epilepsy at age 15 that neither the Buddhist monks nor Hindu priests could cure. His plans to commit suicide were eternally interrupted by a Christian pastor who told him about Jesus. His parents expelled him from his home when Markus accepted Christ as his Savior. A Christian Nepali woman, Sister Sarita Pradhan(Spiritual Mother), discipled him in his new walk of faith. Later he receive some Biblical training in India. God has now enabled him to plant several house churches inside Bhutan. Besides his vision for this evangelistic ministry among his own people in Bhutan, Markus also assists Sister Sarita with her work at the Bethany Children’s home in Jaigon. He is the CFO of that ministry. He provides administrative oversight to the 20 Bhutanese and Indian children living there who are either orphans or destitute.
Enjoy these few pictures of the mystical country of Bhutan and Markus' ministry there among the underground Christians. In the last several years, the King of Bhutan has granted a measure of religious freedom for Christians. However, when they meet for worship, they must not dress in Western clothing but in the traditional Bhutanese dress. We are thankful for this new measure of freedom for the Christians there.
We are also praying for one of our partners to support him for $100 a month for his travels and treks into Bhutan. Please pray with us about being one of those "Bhutan partners."
In His Love for the People of Bhutan,
JL & Patt
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