Officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan, Bhutan is a tiny and remote country nestled in the Himalayas between India and China. Bhutan is a country with strong and fiercely guarded ancient Buddhist traditions and has been almost completely cut off from the outside world for centuries. The Bhutanese name for Bhutan, Druk Yul, means "Land of the Thunder Dragon" because of the extremely powerful storms which constantly come in from the Himalayas. The country has only begun to open up to outsiders since the 1970s. Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world, which means that it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it produces.
Bhutan is one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world. Because of its unique position in the Himalayan landscape, natural disasters such as floods and landslides can wreak havoc on communities and wipe out crops forcing those already living in poverty to rebuild their lives.
Young students in Bhutan’s rural regions may have to walk two to three hours each way to access the nearest primary school. Because access to education is difficult and limited, the adult literacy rate and opportunities to gain productive skills in the rural areas of Bhutan are low. Less than half of Bhutan’s rural population is literate.
We were never intended to live in poverty, divided against one another, with little hope for peace. In the Kingdom of God, poverty, violence, division, and hopelessness will not exist. We believe the Church is God’s primary transforming agent in the world, and that the local church exists to make its community more like the Kingdom of God.
We partner with local indigenous leaders as they minister to the communities and cultures that they themselves are from. We start projects and programs in the hardest places and set up a plan for them to be self-sustaining in order for them to know independence and the value of reinvesting in their own communities.
Read on to learn how communities are being transformed in Bhutan.
Mission ONE has been partnering with local leads in Bhutan since 2009. Raised in a high-caste Hindu family, our partner is uniquely equipped to understand the cultural and religious dynamics of the people in the region. Our partners are disciplining those who are leaving the religious restraints of their past and developing local pastors through church plants. Their holistic approach to ministry brings the hope of Jesus to people while their lives are transformed— all through the local church.
Mission ONE is engaged with leadership in Bhutan by providing training that helps them to follow Jesus with their whole lives. Economics, cultural contextualization, and leadership are a few topics covered by Mission ONE Training.
Jesus' life, death, and resurrection carry more collective and cosmic tones in South Asia than we often perceive it does in the United States. Cultures largely influenced by Buddhism have stronger family and communal ties, meaning a decision to follow Jesus is often made as a group. It is easier for people from South Asia to see the way the gospel addresses the conflict between different groups of people. Because of these dynamics, the Church is uniquely equipped to care for the needs of refugees and the poor.
Working with local leaders in Bhutan, Mission ONE addresses the important topics of honor, shame, and what the gospel says about these cultural influences.
To learn more about how honor and shame interact with the Bible and how this affects our Western theology, check out The Global Gospel, written by Mission ONE Vice President, Werner Mischke.