Religions in Asia
India, a land of diverse religion and culture is also well known for overwhelming number of population and poverty, as she stands as the second largest populated country in the world next to China. India is also the only country with the largest number of languages (398) spoken by the citizens, which creates a major challenge and struggle for the servant of God in proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Along with Language problem, Hinduism is another hindrance to Godâ€™s mission, since it is practiced by 81% of the total population. Poverty is another issue which also hinders many people in accepting the Love of God due to suffering that they undergo. Secondly, Nepal a neighbouring country of India shares many common features with India in the area of population, poverty and religion. Nepal too is a populous country and like India, the majority with 81.3% of the total population practices Hinduism, a religion with innumerable god and goddess. They have expressed their worship by forming almost 200 Hindu temples in 12 districts. Sadly they are still dead in their spirits.
Lastly, Bhutan is a nation where Christianity is practiced by only 20,000 out of 750,000 people, but Buddhism is practiced at large and is also labelled by the citizen as the 'spiritual heritage' of the country. Despite of Bhutan Constitution that provides religious freedom yet Christians do not have the religious liberty practically. The local officials often oppress Christians for having illegal gatherings for worship on Sundays. However, Christians have always had to undergo persecution and suffering for the sake of gospel beginning from the time of early church. Thus, all these make India, Nepal and Bhutan the lands with the largest scarcity of gospel. Many missionaries have landed in these lands along with the number of indigenous servants of God yet these lands still lack the Love of God and are in desperate need of it. There are also many tribal groups in the remotest parts of these countries where they still have not heard about Jesus throughout their life. There are many challenges yet the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus motivates us in moving towards the goal that Jesus himself has set for us.
Approximately 70 % of the population follow either the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school or the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. The remaining 30 percent practice Hinduism or follow other schools of Buddhism or BÃ¶n. Bhutan has a monarchy system where the king is the supreme authority.
The Ngalop people, descendants of Tibetan immigrants, comprise the majority of the population in the western and central areas and mostly follow the Dtukpa Lineage of the Kagyu Vajrayana.
The Sharcops, descendants of the country's probable original inhabitants, live in the east. Reportedly, some Sharchops practice Buddhism combined with elements of BÃ¶n whereas others practice animism and Hinduism. Several Sharchops hold high positions in the government, the National Assembly, and the court system.
The government supports both Kagyu and Nyingma Buddhist Monasteries. The royal family practices a combination of Nyingma and Kagyu Buddhism, and many citizens believe in the concept of "Kanyin-Zungdrel," meaning "Kagyupa and Ningmapa as one."
Hindus, mainly in the South, practice Hinduism. The very first Hindu temple was constructed in Thimphu (the capital of Bhutan) in 2012 by His Holiness The Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot of Bhutan, and Hindus practice their religion in small to medium-sized groups. Hinduism is more common among the Nepalese ethnic group, although most ethnic Nepalese follow Buddhism as well.
BÃ¶n, the country's animist and shamanistic belief system, revolves around the worship of nature and predates Buddhism. Although BÃ¶n priests often officiate and include BÃ¶n rituals in Buddhist festivals, very few citizens adhere exclusively to this religious group.
Christians are present in small numbers, especially in the Nepalese ethnic group. According to a 2007 report, there were no Christian missionaries in the country, although international Christian relief organizations and Roman Catholic Jesuit priests engaged in education and humanitarian activities. Christianity was first brought to Bhutan in the late 17th century by Portuguese Jesuits, but the teachings failed to gain much attraction among the devout Buddhists of the Bhutanese people. More recently (2014) Christian ministers are being arrested for spreading the Gospel.
Less than 1% of the population of Bhutan is Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook. In 2009, the Pew Research Center estimated that 1% of the population, or 7,000 people, were Muslims. However, according to one website, adherents.com, Muslims constitute over 5% of the population.
In the midst of such opposition, many house churches are rising up in Bhutan. There are a few churches with hundreds of believers in the capital city Thimphu. With Godâ€™s grace, the mission and its workers have been able to plant two churches in Bhutan also. Now the mission is planning and praying to train and equip the believers of Bhutan in Indo-Bhutan border side to raise more and more laborers for Bhutan.