Clint and I recently returned from a ministry trip to a country in the Himalayas that is officially closed to the gospel. The government there does not recognize Christianity, and believers are actively persecuted. There are Christians in jail, and leaders of the Buddhist monasteries are known to beat those they suspect of being Christians.
Despite the opposition, there is a first generation church there. Of the hundred or so believers that we met, few were raised in a Christian home. When a person there comes to faith in Christ, they receive a new name–a biblical name. Thus, people in the church can recognize other believers, simply by their names. It was a precious picture of faith and of the church as a family.
The church there is obviously facing challenges. There are zero seminary trained pastors in the entire country, nor are there any pastors who are paid for their ministry. The entire endeavor is led by lay shepherds, who spend much of their time working their day jobs, followed by visiting other believers in jail. The Bible has been translated into the main language of the country, but is not published. The result is that they use a translation from a neighboring country’s dialect, which is close enough to convey the meaning, but far enough away that a lot of confusion develops.
Nevertheless, this nation’s believers have been protected from much of what has damaged evangelicalism in the West. There are no Catholics in the country (that we know of), and the charismatic movement is only beginning to creep in. All of the believers are baptistic, premillenial, and evangelical—and they arrived at those positions without any real influence other than the Scriptures.
Clint and I were able to attend a meeting of most of the country’s church leaders. We taught on marks of a godly leader, some basics of sanctification, the joy of heaven, and persevering through trials. Clint wrote more about that here.
The goal from our trip was to encourage the church leaders, and gauge the potential for some sort of pastoral training in the future. There are a few tangible ways other can support the ministry there. If you would like information on how you or your church could minister to the people in this country, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.