When Zigsa* walked the stairs to approach the Dalai Lama, several Buddhist books and idols inexplicably fell from their bases. Was it a sign from the gods that he was cursed? Despite this horrifying and shameful incident, Zigsa went on to successfully fulfill his lifelong dream to become a renowned Buddhist monk-until the day God got a hold of him.
His own journey to faith followed a remarkable path. “Because I wanted to become a monk, I decided to go see the Dalai Lama in India, says Zigsa. “As those Buddhist materials and idols fell from their bases, I felt so ashamed and the Dalai Lama was also embarrassed. He must have thought I was a terrible sinner, but he didn’t show it.”
For the next several years Zigsa lived at a temple and gained a reputation as a gifted monk. One day, some foreigners came to live at the temple as well. “They shaved their heads and changed their clothes. They almost looked like us. The difference was that these people were not praying to Buddha, but to Jesus. One of them talked to me and that night my body was shaking uncontrollably. Other monks tried to calm me down, but it took a long time before I was back to normal. Something changed after that night. I could not concentrate anymore and I seemed to have lost the gift of teaching. My students couldn’t understand me anymore.”
He left the temple in India and moved to a new place where he met another Christian. “He explained how there was only one, true God in this world. He also talked about Jesus, how he died on the cross and how he rose from the grave. I said, ‘Impossible! Not even Buddha could do that!’ He gave me a Nepalese Bible. I did not want to accept the Bible, but I had no choice. The man was so kind. He even paid for the meal! I was culturally obliged to accept his present.”
Something about him captivated Zigsa’s attention and he decided to travel around with this Christian, making notes of everything the Christian said and did. However, after a month, he was compelled to return to his home village by the news that his mother had just died. Soon after arriving the villagers found out he was no longer a monk, and his family and the entire community shunned him. “When I also lost my money I wanted to kill myself. It was 2 a.m. when I walked to the river with the intention of jumping into it. But suddenly I became afraid. Then I heard a voice in English, saying ‘Where are you going?’ Startled, I looked around me. There was nobody there. I looked up and I had a vision of Jesus sitting on the moon. He did not say anything else, but I was reminded that Jesus is the light of our life. I became convinced He was the living God and I immediately bowed my head and asked Him to forgive my sins. I told Him I wanted to be His follower.”
Zigsa’s ministry is definitely not easy in an area dominated almost entirely by Tibetan Buddhism. “There is persecution from the Tibetan community and from the government. That’s why we teach our new believers to be careful. First stabilize yourself; ground yourself in God’s Word.”
Meeting in small groups, the number of Christians in Tibet is now somewhere between 200 and 500. Zigsa shepherds a few dozen of them, all of whom have come to faith through his ministry.
*Name changed to protect his idenity.
Father, thank You that You are a God of all cultures … of all peoples. Thank You for drawing us to Yourself in ways we understand and respond to. Thank You that Zigsa is a follower of Christ now, and that You have equipped him to train others in Your Word, and in ways to introduce others to You. We stand amazed at the way You are growing Your church in the hard soil of Tibet. We pray for Your Holy Spirit to prepare many lives to receive the truth of Your gospel, and the person of Christ as their Savior and Lord. We pray also that You will protect this fledgling church as she grows. Strengthen these new Christians in Your Word. Show them Your faithfulness. Grant them opportunities to share the gospel with their families and neighbors. Bring about fruit to their work as they seek to serve Your kingdom. Draw a mighty army of worshipers to bear the name of Christ and give praise to You alone. In the name of Jesus, who is gathering His church in Tibet. Amen.