Church Planting in Bhutan

One of the key concerns of The Tide as a ministry is to make sure that we provide people with adequate opportunity to embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior and to live in fellowship with God throughout their daily lives.  The Tide heart language radio broadcasts are an extremely effective way to introduce people to Jesus.  Two additional components that are very important in making disciples are the capability to follow up with listeners in a way that helps them become committed Christ followers, and the ability to connect converts with other believers for ongoing fellowship and joint worship.  Through literature distribution, correspondence courses, and seekers conferences The Tide has several avenues to follow up with listeners and guide them into a lasting relationship with Jesus.  In most cases these follow up ministries are coordinated in cooperation with existing ministry partners on the ground in countries where The Tide radio programs are being aired.  The Tide then works with these ministry partners to either integrate radio converts into existing congregations or form new fellowship groups that can grow into established churches.

In June 2012 The Tide began broadcasting a weekly gospel radio program into Bhutan in the Dzongkha language which is the official language of Bhutan.  Bhutan is a Buddhist stronghold where the state religion is a form of Buddhism heavily influenced by animistic spirit worship, and is one of the world’s least evangelized nations.  Although Christianity is tolerated to some degree, Bhutan is essentially closed to outside influence and any attempt to convert people from the state religion is illegal.   Bhutanese people who do embrace Christianity risk losing their citizenship and often face discrimination.  Entry visas are very difficult to obtain and currently the only means The Tide has of connecting with listeners in Bhutan is through border ministries.  Unemployment is very high in Bhutan and almost a quarter of the population lives in poverty making it attractive for Bhutanese to seek employment in neighboring India.
Bhutan is a country neighboring India

This is the case of Nado R (name disguised for safety purposes), who was recruited as the speaker on The Tide Dzongkha language radio program. Nado, a Bhutanese Christian with 17 years of ministry experience currently lives in India where he works as a teacher, but recently completed his Masters of Ministry degree and has a desire to work among his own people in full time ministry.  This fits well with the goal of The Tide to disciple radio listeners into committed believers, and so The Tide is developing a project to establish a ministry center in Bhutan as a base from which Nado will be able to work in full time ministry to connect with and disciple radio listeners. As a native of Bhutan Nado can freely take up residency in this country where it is difficult for foreigners to gain access, and where The Tide currently has no on site ministry partner.  Having someone who can freely move about in Bhutan to encourage people to listen to The Tide Dzongkha language radio program and to meet with listeners is vital in this country where Christians face discrimination and persecution, and where listeners are hesitant to enter into written correspondence because they fear that their mail will be screened by government workers looking for indications of religious or spiritual influence.

The immediate goal is to provide a means of connecting with radio listeners on a personal level and creating an avenue for them to be discipled into a lasting and committed relationship with God.  As Nado disciples listeners he will also be facilitating the formation of small fellowship groups with a longer term goal of growing these fellowships into established self-sustaining congregations that will be able to expand God’s kingdom throughout their communities.  We praise God for opening this door and for connecting The Tide with Nado who is willing to serve as a full time indigenous missionary in Bhutan.  Pray that we will be able to successfully arrange a suitable rental property in Bhutan that will serve both as a residence for Nado and his family and a church planting base for The Tide in Bhutan.

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