The population of Bhutan is 788,000, most of whom are Buddhist. Christians are a tiny minority, numbering around 18,800 in total, which is just two per cent of the total population.
All Bhutanese citizens are expected to follow Buddhism, which means anyone who converts to Christianity is exposed to hostility from their family and community.
Women are at the greatest risk of persecution. Those married to non-Christians can face divorce or, alternatively, social pressure to stay with their husbands despite domestic abuse, whilst those who are single can be at risk of forced marriage. Men can be disowned by their families and lose their inheritance. Believers also encounter accusations of taking bribes to convert.
Bhutanese culture is very communal and the protection of family is crucial, so ostracism by loved ones can have an enormous impact on a convert’s life and livelihood.
No churches have official state recognition, meaning that any gatherings for worship are technically illegal. Local authorities often refuse to issue Christians with a 'non-objection certificate', which is essential for things such as jobs and registering property.
“I found life and hope in Jesus. All the time I have in this world I want to use it for His kingdom.” Meena, a young Christian who faces pressure from her local community because of her faith in Jesus.
“As a Bhutanese Christian I do face general discrimination in my country,” says Meena (name changed). “My relatives and friends misunderstand me, they think I am given money to stick to the Christian faith. However, this is not so, Jesus is true to me and He has always answered me in the times I have been in distress. This is the reason I cling to Him.
“The Bible helps us make good decisions in life,” continues Meena, who is receiving pastoral care from Open Doors local partners. “I understand now that I need to study the Bible more, I am very curious to learn. I want churches to be places where they provide spiritual, physical as well as mental support to people, especially to young people."
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Bhutan. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen persecuted Christians in Bhutan through prayer support and other practical emergency help.
Dear God, pour fresh encouragement into the hearts of believers in Bhutan who are feeling discouraged because of the risks that come with following You. Give them discernment, wisdom and boldness as they seek to express and share their faith in environments that can be hostile to them. Provide opportunities for believers to gather, and meet the needs all those who have suffered loss because of their faith, be that jobs, friends or other things. Establish connections between Christians and those in authority, so that their influence not only leads to greater religious freedom but opens avenues for more people to hear about You. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.