Myanmar (Burma) Photo by David Mark
(Voice of the Persecuted) Thursday, 7/9/2020 MYANMAR – Population: 54.3 million, Christians 4.3 million
Buddhist extremism and a dictatorial military
In 1966 all foreign missionaries were expelled by the Burmese government, but the Burmese Protestant church has become a vibrant missionary-sending movement, despite financial limitations and geographic isolation. The growth in conversions to Christianity can also be attributed to changes in generations of minority groups from animism to Christianity, or as a reaction to Buddhist nationalism, generally associated with the Burmese majority. The percentage of Christians in the Chin minority group grew from 35% in 1966 to 90% in 2010 and in the Kachin minority group, it grew from 40% in 1966 to 90~95% in 2010. Generally speaking, most Christians are from the minority ethnic groups such as the Chin, Karen, Lisu, Kachin, and Lahu.
The international community has rightly called out the horrific ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state. But the Buddhist-dominated Burmese military has systematically attacked other religious minorities too, including Christians. After a recent lull in the mayhem, the country’s Christians now fear more violence and persecution. The army also maintains tight control over the government in Myanmar, restricting and minimizing the rights of Christians.
Pressure on Christians has slowly increased and converts face strong pressure from their family and community. Rebel groups are active in Wa State, and many churches have been forcibly closed. Buddhist extremists maintain that to be Burmese—the majority ethnic group in Myanmar—is to be Buddhist, so there is intense pressure on all religious minorities, including Christians.
Communities that aim to remain “Buddhist only” make life for Christian families impossible by not allowing them to use community water resources. Some church groups experience opposition, too, especially in rural areas, or if they are known for proselytizing. Christians often meet in homes or business places; otherwise, they risk losing their land and churches that could be forcibly taken. Children of Christians can also face discrimination from teachers and bullying by other children. The government tries to act against radical Buddhist monks, but sends mixed signals. In the past year, it became even clearer that radical monks enjoy the support of the army.
In predominantly Christian states like Kachin State, Karen State or in Northern Shan, even well-established historical churches are being attacked. Fighting increased in 2018, adding thousands more to the IDP camps that are already ill-equipped to provide for the huge numbers of people. Due to intense fighting in Kachin and Shan State, more than 100,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes and are living in camps where they have been denied access to food and healthcare because they are not Buddhists.
In daily life, converts are persecuted by their Buddhist, Muslim or tribal families and communities. Christians in rural areas additionally suffer from the brutal and almost forgotten long-term war the Burmese army is fighting against insurgency groups, especially in the north.
In March 2019, Human Rights Watch published a report about how predominantly Christian Kachin girls and women are trafficked and sold as brides to China (“Give us a baby, and we’ll let you go”).
In most schools, all pupils—including non-Buddhists—are required to recite Buddhist teaching or prayers before classes begin.
Converts from Buddhism are discriminated against in various ways. In one report, a teacher refused to give a Christian student a list of questions provided to others in preparation for tests. In another case, when a family sold a plot of land, the earnings were distributed to all siblings of the family except the convert.
- Pray for peace in the land; peace between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independent Army. Pray that the war would cease and people could return to their homes.
- Pray that the army will stop systematic persecution of minority groups such as Chin, Karen, Lisu, Kachin, and Lahu. It looks like ethnic cleansing.
- Pray against the trafficking of girls and woman into China
- Christian converts from Islam or Buddhism face strong pressure from their family, friends and neighbors to recant their faith. Recently introduced laws have made conversion very complicated, though it is not forbidden outright. Pray for increased religious freedom.
- Pray that believers would have courage and endurance in the face of persecution.
- Pray for persecuted Christian minorities, that they would lovingly minister to persecuted Rohingya Muslims, especially those choosing to return from exile in Bangladesh. Pray that many hearts would be opened to the truth of Christ.
- Pray for the safety and security of displaced believers. Ask God to use His Church to bring provision and medical care
- Pray for the protection of NGOs which provide “covert” support to Believers
- Pray believers are bold in sharing the gospel, this in spite of the hostile environment
- Pray to the Lord that He will bind the forces of darkness and enable the church to continue to grow and that His hand of protection is over the minority groups.
Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses for the Lord and pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice, pray that they will be set free. And also lift up pastor Wang Yi to be released from Prison and ask for the release for Anita, a Christian convert recently sentenced to 6 years in prison for sharing the Gospel in Iran
You are invited to join us on Thursday, July 9 in a prayer call for the persecuted church.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.
The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.
With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.
Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.
If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.
Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.