Caroline Anderson & Susie Rain

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In Bhutan, church flexes limited freedom in Buddhist kingdom

SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- Notes of a sacred hymn fade as Dorji Sangay* reads a passage from his Bible. The small congregation follows along in their New Testaments and then discusses the verses. From where Sangay sits cross-legged on the floor, he can look out the window and see the jagged Himalayan Mountains of his home country, Bhutan. His heart aches to go home. He was forced to leave after being tortured and released from prison in the late 1990s. The crime he committed was sharing Christ. [QUOTE@left@160=For additional story, click here.] Sangay's attention is drawn from the window and his "promised land" back to the Bible study when a woman starts talking to God. The prayer makes him smile. Just a few years ago, his people had no idea how to pray or sing worship songs in their language nor did they have any Bible passages. In fact, there were very few believers back then. Now, he teaches them how to do the same thing that got him arrested -- proclaiming the Gospel. So much has changed for Bhutanese Christians during the last decade that it's nothing short of a miracle -- one that Southern Baptists helped pray into place. In 2001, Southern Baptists committed their National Day of Prayer and Fasting for World Evangelization to the only country recognized as a Tibetan Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan. Baptists prayed for everything from Bible translations to discipleship training to greater religious freedoms. Sangay and other Christian workers say the prayers continue to be answered.