Glimpsing Dawn in Bhutan Print
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 10:29

A friend just sent me a link to a fascinating article about the emergence of the Christian community in reclusive Bhutan. Numbering maybe 10,000 in an overall population of 700,000 (about 1.4% of the population), Christians are slowly becoming visible although they are still careful to maintain a low profile. Christianity is technically legal in Bhutan but Christians continue to pay lesser penalties for publically acknowledging their faith. (For instance, a student who lists his or her faith as "Christian" may not be allowed access to higher studies.)

(The French Internet site “Aide à l’Eglise en détresse” puts the figure of Christians in Bhutan at 12,255, with only 1,000 Roman Catholics, i.e. 0.5% of the population as against 74% Buddhists, 20.5% Hindus, 3.8% Animists and 1.2% uncategorized. Catholicism was the first form of Christianity to reach Bhutan via Jesuit missionaries in 1627.

UCA's article begins with the journey of an Indian Archbishop and three members of the Jesus Youth movement across Bhutan. In places like Nepal and Bhutan, it was lay Indian evangelists who were the catalyst of the much wider emergence of Christianity in the 20th century.

I wasn't suprised to discover that Jesus Youth is an international charismatic movement that arose in Kerala in the 1970's and has organically spread across India and now to 24 other countries. The lion's share of serious Catholic evangelization around the world, and especially in the global south, over the past 40 years has arisen from within various groups affected by the charismatic renewal.