Source: INcontext International, August 16, 2023
Since May 2022, 12,000 Bhutanese have emigrated to Australia, approximately 1.5% of the population [of Bhutan]. In 2022, there were 30,000 Bhutanese living in Australia, and the rate at which people are leaving is increasing exponentially.
Bhutan has a mostly closed economy, largely dependent on tourism and hydroelectric power. When the borders were reopened post COVID-19 in September 2022, new tourism taxes on top of a nightly fee caused a slower-than-expected recovery in the country’s tourism sector [and contributed to] a 24% unemployment rate, especially among students, who now find themselves fleeing to Australia.
There are several perspectives to consider concerning this mass migration.
Firstly, more Bhutanese will have the opportunity to be exposed to Christianity in Australia. The global Body of Christ can pray that the Australian Church will take up this opportunity to minister to those coming from a nation with such a large “unreached” population, and that the Bhutanese who encounter Christ in Australia will have a desire to return to their country and share the gospel with those within their sphere of influence.
Secondly, Bhutan might be pressured to be more open in order to encourage more people to stay in the country.
In all instances of migration, we can see the fingerprints of God.
Speaking of what God’s doing through migration, read an article making a case that immigrant churches may be key to church growth in America (Ministry Watch) and a related article about a network of diaspora churches We Must Praise Him in the African Way (The Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others). Inspiring.