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Christianity in South and Central Asia$
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Kenneth R. Ross, Daniel Jeyaraj, and Todd M. Johnson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474439824

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474439824.001.0001

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(p.180) Bhutan
Christianity in South and Central Asia

Tandin Wangyal

Edinburgh University Press

Bhutan is the only surviving monarchy in the Himalayas, having resisted any foreign colonial power. It is a predominantly Buddhist nation; Buddhism permeates all facets of their lives. Bhutan’s first exposure to Christianity came in 1627, with the visit of two Portuguese Jesuits, who were stymied by linguistic barriers. However, in the second half of the twentieth century Bhutan slowly opened up to medical missions that treated leprosy patients. From the 1960s Christians from Darjeeling and Kalimpong in India came to the country to work, and through their influence some Bhutanese came to faith in Christ. Late twentieth century/early twenty-first century conversions via ‘power encounters’ has led to a Pentecostal movement in Bhutan. In 2004 the Bhutan Council of Churches’ Fellowship (BCCF) was formed, in response to a need for local institutionalized unity. Translation work in the Tsanglha language began in 1989 and the New Testament was completed in 2009. A significant challenge lying ahead is the contextualisation of theology in Bhutan in relation to Buddhist culture. Work in this area can help to demonstrate that Christian Bhutanese are loyal citizens, with a valuable contribution to make to national life.

Keywords:   Bhutan, Christianity, Buddhism, India, Pentecostal, Tsanglha

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