Reaching Bhutan with Patience, Persistence and Prayer
first published: Dec. 6, 2006 – Gospel for Asia
Salil Joshi was the first person in his village to become a Christian. It would be eight years before there was another. Today Salil is patiently, persistently and prayerfully preaching the Gospel to the people in his home country of Bhutan.
Salil, who is now a Gospel for Asia missionary, was raised in a staunch Buddhist family in this country that borders China, India and Nepal. His journey to faith began in 1980, when a group of young people visited his village distributing tracts and praying for people. Salil’s brother was battling tuberculosis, and these young evangelists gathered around the sick boy and prayed earnestly that God would heal him. God answered their prayers and Salil’s brother was soon completely freed from the dreadful illness.
Salil wanted to know more about the man named Jesus described in the tracts, so he began corresponding with one of the evangelists. This young Buddhist repented of his sin and received Jesus as his Savior in 1988. Shortly afterward, God filled Salil with an all-consuming desire to share the Gospel. God was faithful to keep Salil’s call fresh, even as this young believer met fierce opposition and incurred ongoing discouragement.
Salil’s problems began as soon as he shared his new faith with his own family. Even though Salil’s brother has been healed through the prayers of Christians, his parents staunchly opposed his new life as a Christian. Yet, Salil stood strong, growing in his faith, even when he was the only believer in his village.
In 1994 Salil enrolled in a Gospel for Asia Bible college to study God’s Word. He went back home and started a children’s ministry conducting Sunday school and offering after-school homework help classes for children. Because of his faithfulness, 14 Buddhists received Jesus as their Savior in 1996. Within a year, Salil and this small band of new believers laid a foundation for a new church building. The local Hindu and Buddhist extremists did all they could to halt the construction, but the Lord blessed Salil and all the new believers, allowing the church to be completed a few months later. Today, about 85 people worship there.
Yet, Salil is still not safe in his own village. He is often targeted by the many anti-Christian groups in Bhutan. One man even tried to stone him to death. In spite of the attacks and threats, Salil can be seen pedaling his bicycle miles and miles each day handing out Gospel tracts, praying for the sick and telling people about Jesus.
Even though his days were full ministering to adults, Salil refused to abandon his children’s ministry. Instead, he used it as a springboard to open a Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope center in his village. Now about 180 children from a variety of different backgrounds receive food, clothing, education and a chance to learn about Jesus.
The leaders in Bhutan seek prayer for Salil as God uses him and his family to extend the kingdom. They ask for prayer for the man who stoned Salil, and for the members of his family who are still Buddhists and are not open to hearing about the Gospel. They also ask for prayer that God would burden the hearts of every believer for the work in Bhutan, where millions are followers of Hinduism and Buddhism.