I’m CSPC missions partner Amy Barber. My husband Ron and I serve at the International Graduate School of Leadership in the Philippines, where we teach students in order to prepare them for ministry in cross-cultural contexts throughout Asia. I want to share with you the incredible story of one of the great friends we made here, Darjee. His journey from Tibetan monastery to Manila seemed to move from one incredible miracle to another. It began when his parents gave him up to the local monastery in Tibet when he was still a young child. There, a beloved teacher raised Darjee and taught him philosophical Buddhism. Tibet has some measure of autonomy but is ultimately governed by China. When Darjee was 17, Chinese officials arrested, imprisoned and tortured him for having a picture of the Dalai Lama in his room. After his release from prison, Darjee was afraid for his life, so he took off across the Himalayas and headed for India. There he joined the monastery at Dharamshala and became a writer for the Dalai Lama. But a portion of the gospel of Luke, which he’d read while in Tibet, kept coming to mind. So Darjee set out to learn more about Jesus. After getting turned away twice from Christian institutions in India, he finally connected with a missionary who was trying to reach Buddhists in the city. Through that study he came to meet Jesus a little more than a decade ago. It was a journey that would cost him everything. Because he became a Christ-follower, Darjee’s family back in Tibet cast him out. During this estrangement, his father died. When Darjee’s mother got sick, he tried to reconcile with her and the rest of his extended family. But he was firmly rejected. Relatives calling him ‘dirty as a dog.’ They mocked and threatened him, saying, ‘We have unlimited wood to make a cross and huge nails – so come on.’ His mother said he was worse than his brother, who was in jail for killing a man. ‘Changing your religion is the worst of all possible sins,’ she said.
The monastery authorities even got involved by prohibiting direct contact between Darjee and his mother until he denied Christ. They set up three conditions he had to promise to meet if he wanted to talk with his mother: 1. Don’t call yourself a Christian. 2. Don’t teach monks about Christianity. 3. Don’t try to damage the reputation of the monastery through criticism, online or otherwise. I’m not sure how I would respond faced with a situation like that. But God was with our friend and he responded by saying: ‘I won’t call myself a Christian (just a follower of Christ), I won’t teach monks about Christianity (unless they ask), and I won’t damage the monastery reputation (I never have).’ He simply would not give up Jesus. The authorities weren’t completely satisfied with these answers, but after having him pay a fine, they did give him permission to contact his mother. They connected through video conferencing, but his mother was still critical and angry. Then, late last year, Darjee became sick and went home to be with Jesus. He described himself as a follower of Jesus and that is truly what he was. He had an utterly unique ministry to Buddhist monks throughout Asia, and he longed for a Tibetan-speaking church to be established. Oh Lord, who can take his place? Please join us in praying that Darjee’s hopes for a solidly established church in Tibet are realized, and for the life of the gospel to invade his entire family.