In June 2012 The Tide® began broadcasting a weekly radio program into Bhutan in the Dzongkha language, the official language of Bhutan. Bhutan is a Buddhist stronghold where the state religion is a form of Buddhism heavily influenced by animistic spirit worship, and is one of the world’s least evangelized nations.
Although Christianity is tolerated to some degree, Bhutan is essentially closed to outside influence and any attempt to convert people from the state religion is illegal. The Bhutanese constitution officially allows for religious freedom, but people who embrace Christianity and publicly practice their faith risk losing their citizenship and often face discrimination. Entry visas are very difficult to obtain and currently the only means The Tide has of connecting with listeners in Bhutan is through border ministries. Unemployment is very high in Bhutan and almost a quarter of the population lives in poverty making it attractive for Bhutanese to seek employment in neighboring India.
This was the case with the pastor (name withheld for security reasons) who was recruited as the speaker on The Tide Dzongkha language radio program. A Bhutanese Christian with 17 years of ministry experience, he was living in India where he worked as a teacher. This minister felt a deep call and desire to work among his own people to encourage and support those who have exercised their freedom to follow Jesus.
The Tide has developed a project to establish a ministry center in Bhutan as a base from which The Tide Bhutanese radio Pastor is able to reach out to connect with radio listeners. The radio Pastor has resigned from his teaching position in India and moved into Bhutan where a rental property had been secured that will act both as his residence and an outreach center. A small discreet dedication service was conducted for the ministry center with a handful of Christians present. As a native of Bhutan, he has been able to freely take up residency in this country where it is difficult for foreigners to gain access. Having someone who can freely move about in Bhutan to encourage people who listen to The Tide Dzongkha language radio program and to meet with listeners is vital in this country where Christians face discrimination and persecution, and where listeners are hesitant to enter into written correspondence because they fear that their mail will be screened by government workers looking for indications of religious or spiritual influence.