Christianity in Tibet is a relatively new religion. In historic date, there have been many efforts made by missionaries in Tibet, but only a few have a success in Tibet. Right now, there is only one village Christian communities in Yanjing with one church with couple hundred converts.
History of Christianity in Tibet
The first Christians to reach Tibet were the Nestorians. Various remain and inscription have been only in recent years. Jesuits and Capuchins arrived in 17th and 18th centuries. Portuguese missionaries Jesuit father Antonio De Andrade and Brother Manuel Marques reach the Guge Kingdom in the year 1624. There were welcomed the king and allow them to build a church. By the year 1627, there was about hundred local convert in the Kingdom. Later on, it was introduced in Rudok. They were also welcome the ruler of Tsang Kingdom. They establish a Jesuit post in Shigatse in 1626.
Later due to the turn of events in Tibet, Christianity didn’t survive in Tibet. Yet in 1865, two French Catholic priest father Felix Biet and Father Auguste Desgodins made the journey to Tibet from Yunan. The two father establish a church in Yangjing in Markham County. Establishing a church in Tibet in the 19th Century was the hard task, there were often clashes with the local monasteries. In the 1940 Father Maurice Tourney, was killed in one such clash. Local lamas took over the church and remain in the Buddhist hand until 1951.
Getting established in Tibet in the middle of the 19th century was hard, and there were often clashes between the church and the local lamaseries. In the late 1940s, after Father Felix’s successor, Father Maurice Tourney, was killed in one such clash, the church was taken over by Lamas and remained in Tibetan Buddhist hands until 1951. In the year 1951, the new local government of Tibet liberated the church from the grip of the Buddhist grip. The church was rebuilt in the year 1980s with the government fund.
Tibetan Christian now
Now the local Buddhist are very tolerant of the Catholic in the Yanjing village. They exchange invitation with local Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Lama during the ceremony such as Christmas and eastern. There are also interfaith marriages where the offspring are free to choose the faith after adulthood. The Only Tibetan church in the world is run by a Tibetan priest with the help of two Tibetan Nun.
Adaptation of Christianity from the local Tibetan Buddhist custom:
Khata Culture: One of the very unique features you will see in Tibetan Church in Yangjin is the offering of Khata (Tibetan White scarf) 0n the statue of Marry. They also use it for the well-wishing and greeting amount them. Khata has the same utility and significant in the Tibetan Christian life as that of the Tibetan Buddhist life.
Altar in Home: When you visit the home of Tibetan Christian family, you will find Altar in the home as it is in all the Buddhism family. But in their alter you will find Jesus and Marry instead Buddhist deity.
Tibetan New year: Tibetan Christian in Yangjin village also celebrate Tibetan Lunar New year along with the local Buddhist. They would gather in their church and read the passage from the Bible instead of Buddhist scripture.
Tibetan Bible: Tibetan Buddhist use Bible in Tibetan language and also Bible in the Chinese language.
Christian Thangka: Thangka is traditionally a means to preach about a religion to the common man as a visual aid. Now many Tibetan Christian are using thangka to preach life story of creation and fall of man, Story of Jesus, and the Story of God and Man before Jesus.