Tibet has long been a country that has held a fascination for the world, primarily due to its past isolationist policies and its situation on the ‘roof of the world'. If the saying to be Thai is to be Buddhist holds true, then how much more emphatically can it be said that to be Tibetan is to be a Tibetan Buddhist.
The Tibetan people have been extremely resistant to past attempts to evangelise them. In fact it was Hudson Taylor who said of the Tibetans, "To make converts in Tibet is similar to going into a cave and trying to rob a lioness of her cubs." Yet the Tibetans are a warm and friendly people who stand in desperate need of the Saviour.
The appeal of Tibetan Buddhism to westerners has been in part due to mysticism and also the notion that its adherents are not only ‘at one' with themselves but also with the rest of the world. This notion is further emphasised by the fact that the spiritual ruler of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama, was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Thus the western observer sees the smiling face of Buddhism, but not the cycle of fear and bondage that these dear people are caught in.
They are constantly trying to earn merit for a better reincarnation, but to no avail, either now or after death. To be born a beggar is to remain a beggar, no matter how much merit one accrues. Even from the very lips of Padmasambhava, the Indian Tantric master who brought Buddhism to Tibet (where it was united with the Bön religion and other pre-Buddhist folk religions to form Tibetan Buddhism as we know it today) we have the following quotation: "Our condition in this life is entirely dependent upon the actions of our previous life and nothing can be done to alter the scheme of things." This is the very antithesis of the gospel message and the promise we have in 2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
In the summer of 1886, William E. Blackstone challenged his audience, saying, "God seems to be holding back that little place [Tibet] to be the last field entered just before His coming." Many in the past have laid down their lives to see these dear people come to Christ but there has been precious little fruit for their labour. However, this should not be a cause for despair but rather a motivation for pressing into God and finding the keys that He has which will open wide the eyes of the Tibetans and allow the glorious light of the gospel to shine in. Our call is to be persistent in prayer and build upon the foundation that these saints of the past have laid, for one plants, another waters, but only God can give the increase. We must be aware that the battle that is to be fought for the lives of these precious ones takes place in the heavenly realm.
"For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Therefore we must be conversant with the tactics of the evil one and know the arsenal that is available to us and the strategy that the Lord has to reach the Tibetan people.
"For the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
‘Hit and run' evangelism has little place in this society where everything is built upon relationships. Trust is not established in a day or two but can take many years to consolidate. For Tibetans to come to Christ it is not a matter of the words that come out of our mouths but ‘love in action', it is being there through the good times and the bad, it is ‘preaching the gospel and if necessary using words'.
This is not to minimise the effectiveness of short-term intercession trips, for indeed these are invaluable. Praying on site and interceding for the Tibetans has consistently brought about change. We have seen teams repeatedly go into areas that have initially been very spiritually dark. However, as they have returned again and again, we have seen tangible changes in the spiritual atmosphere and greater acceptance by the locals.
Undoubtedly, the effect on those who come on these teams is life-changing. Those who allow their hearts to be broken with the Father's heart of compassion for the Tibetan people and see them through His eyes will never be the same again. They will take the burden for the salvation of ‘a people lost in darkness' and share this whenever they have the opportunity.
Although we are now seeing some small groups of Tibetan believers, the majority are isolated believers. The numbers are still very small but what a privilege to know these dear ones. For them to come to Christ they face persecution, ostracism and many other trials that those in the western world can't imagine. Please pray that the Lord will strengthen and protect these dear ones and add to their number. Pray too that they will be able to meet with other believers and be nurtured and receive encouragement. Pray for dreams and visions, as these have played an important role in many of them coming to Christ. Are you willing to come and bring "the light of Christ" to those lost in darkness?
Isaiah 6:8 - "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' And I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'"
WHAT PAST INTERCESSION TEAM MEMBERS HAVE TO SAY:
"Being there in person really made me realise how important it is that we prepare the ground with prayer - the stronghold of their beliefs is so powerful; it is all they are taught from when they are born. We saw several young boys who were monks - they live at the monastery from age seven or eight and have all of their schooling there; it is all they will know of the world and of life. We saw many old people - faces lined by a lifetime of hard work in the sun, and for the women, backs bent low from a lifetime of carrying heavy loads. They mumbled mantras as they walked, and carried either prayer beads or wheels in their hands. What struck me so powerfully was the difference between their gods and our Father. When we pray, we are receiving life from the very Creator of life; when they pray, they are receiving death from the forces opposed to the truth."
"What this trip showed me in a deeper way is how wonderful our God is. In stark contrast to the darkness, fear and bondage of these people, I gained a new sense of how truly blessed we are to worship the true living God Who gives us life in abundance. It was an incredible honour to go up to the high places and speak words of life over these people, and to start to get the Lord's love and burden for these people. Prayer is not in vain! The Lord has created these people for fellowship with Himself and, because of His finished work on the cross, the Tibetans do have a path to freedom laid out for them. It is through us going, praying and building relationships that the Tibetans will be able to find the path. I wish more people would have a burden to come and pray in these places."
"My 13th intercession trip was fantastic as always! We interceded in cities, towns, along rivers and streams, in homes and on mountains. We felt darkness turning to light, beauty replacing ashes, joy taking precedence over mourning, and praise overcoming heaviness! His presence was awesome! And it is growing in the dark and demonic places. How I love these people!"
"From the start God spoke, through different team members, of His sovereignty over man-made idols. The predominant theme in the team meetings was Jesus as King, and as we prayer-walked or prayed over the city, I had a real sense that Jesus was poised with His army, waiting to set the captives free from the demonic strongholds that held them in such fear."
"It was just so sad watching endless Tibetans come to walk round, spinning the prayer wheels, prostrating themselves on the ground, in a futile attempt to earn favour for themselves and their families. One lady seemed so desperate, so without hope, it was heartbreaking to watch, and I caught a glimpse of how God feels when He sees it. It made a lot of us feel discouraged as we saw the bondage that these people live under. The darkness is huge! We had to keep reminding ourselves that we are not just ordinary soldiers, we're His soldiers and have great might and authority because of Who it is we fight for. I was aware the entire trip of how privileged we were to be able to stand in the gap and seek God's mercy for His people. The need was so tangible; it gave a greater sense of urgency to our prayers."