Bhutanese Pastors Awaiting Court’s Verdict
Tandin Wangyal and Mon Thapa have been charged with the crime of conducting an unauthorized gathering for religious purposes without prior approval.
Wangyla and Thapa, were in the area upon invitation to hold a three-day seminar for 30 local Christians. But, while transporting a sick child to a clinic in Khabdaney village, the couple was arrested. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in capital city Thimphu charged the two with the crimes of conducting a gathering for religious purpose without prior approval, showing a film without certificate of approval from the concerned media authorities, and collecting ‘illegal funds.’
On April 22, the couple was released on bail. The pastors submitted their written rebuttal to the court during the first hearing of the case on May 5. At the second hearing on May 12, the OAG submitted a second charge sheet. This time, it accused Tandin Wangyal of soliciting funds from the public for personal gain.
Tandin submitted a second written rebuttal during the third trial held on May 22, during which he was supposed to show a sample of the session from a similar seminar, but, due to technical problems, he was unable to show the program content. The charges were then dropped according to a May 31 article by a local paper, Business Bhutan.
The prosecutors, however, found financial data in an external hard drive which compelled them to question him if he received funds from the public without official permission, which was a violation of the Civil Society Organization Act of Bhutan. Tandin denied the new charges against him.
“The recent weeks have been a constant test of my faith,” 37-year-old Tandin told Open Doors. “Last February, my father passed away in my arms, while he uttered Psalm 23. Then, soon after that, I was detained for 49 days; it was a long time for me to be separated from my wife and children. Now, I don’t know what awaits me.”
“We’ve been waiting for the court to summon us,” said Tandin. “It’s mentally draining. It’s like there’s this axe just hanging above my neck, ready to swing anytime,” He added. “My family and I are very grateful for your prayer support. We continue to rely on you and your prayers during this time.”
Consider writing a letter of encouragement to Tandin and his family, including his wife, Nengboi (35), and their three sons, Kuenrab (9), Phuensum (5) and Jetsan (2). Click here for further instructions on what to write and where to send your letters.
Father, we pray today for Tandin and Mon, knowing that this time of uncertainty must be difficult for them and their families; shower them with Your mercy and grace. Father, we ask for Your favor in the court’s decision of releasing them from their charges. Restore them both back into Your work as You protect them from watchful eyes. Father God, may many in Bhutan come to see the light of Christ because of these faithful servants. Amen.