The House With No Flags
There are a few countries in the world where God’s message has not gone, and Tibet is one of them.
Deep in the mountains of central Asia, a small village clings to a rocky slope, dwarfed by an 18,000-foot mountain peak. At first glance, there’s nothing remarkable about this town with its humble wood and stone dwellings that have Buddhist prayer flags fluttering from the roofs.
But then Pastor Kumar Adhikari and I spot something unusual: a house with no prayer flags. Finally, after bumping along winding roads for eight hours, we know we’ve reached our destination.
“Welcome! Welcome!” exclaims Yonten* as he ushers us into his cheerful home. “We have been waiting for you!”
Yonten is a gospel worker and the speaker for the Tibetan programs on Adventist World Radio (AWR). Since his baptism in 2006, he’s bravely survived as a Christian in this border town, striving to share the message of God’s love in Nepal and Tibet.
We’ve come to visit Yonten, not only to encourage him in his challenging work but to fulfill one of his deepest desires: the baptism of his wife, Jamyang*.
Together we carefully make our way over the boulders beside a deep river, and Jamyang and Pastor Kumar slip into the rushing current. The water is freezing, but the day is incredibly joyful for these isolated young believers.
After the baptismal service, about a dozen visitors crowd into Yonten and Jamyang’s home for Sabbath worship. Several of them are former Sunday-keeping Christians, who have walked more than four hours to fellowship with their friends.
When Yonten first accepted Christ, he had to flee his home. Although Buddha forbade killing, the villagers wanted to murder him in order to protect their religion.
Today, he has secured the friendship of the villagers, and the community accepts him and allows him to live as a Christian.
Public evangelism is still forbidden in Tibet. So when Yonten visits his family and friends there, he shares Jesus with them privately. He’s hopeful that the Christian presence he has brought to his village and his corner of Tibet can become more visible, and he is full of ideas.
Yonten has recently become a youth leader in his community, and in this role, it would be appropriate to share Adventist health programs with the villagers. The community hall accommodates more than a hundred people and would be an ideal location for health lectures. “Adventists could come as health messengers,” Yonten says, “and through their example they could share the gospel message without making people feel threatened.”
Education is another significant need, particularly for the Tibetan children living on the Nepalese side of the border. They need better schooling, as well as care and love. Even the children of some of Yonten’s relatives and friends would benefit from a proper education program.
Despite its apparent remoteness, Yonten’s town is slowly growing. Because it lies on a commercial and mountain-trekking route, visitors are becoming more frequent. Yonten envisions someday building a church there.
There are a few countries in the world where God’s message has not gone, and Tibet is one of them. “Tibet has always been on the top of our priority list of countries we want to reach with the gospel message,” says AWR president Dowell Chow. “Even though it is a small step, the nucleus of believers now meeting in Yonten’s home is a flickering light that will grow as more people are exposed to God’s love for them. Adventist World Radio is uniquely poised to reach into the homes and the hearts of the Tibetan people through our daily radio programs prepared and voiced by one of their very own.”
With the baptism of his wife, Jamyang, Yonten’s work is doubly blessed as they continue to share the love of Jesus with their neighbors and friends. Please keep this couple, AWR, and the Tibetan people in your prayers.
* Name has been changed.
Bhaju Ram Shrestha is a retired librarian living in Nepal.
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