Near the town of Pindaya, in the heart of Myanmar, Burmese pilgrims and tour buses filled with foreigners flock to a massive limestone cave, where there are more than 8,000 golden statues of Buddha collected over more than 240 years.
Just a few miles away, lives a missionary pastor. During the week, he earns a meagre living making and selling liquid soap. On Sundays, his home becomes a church for 12 former Buddhists who are now disciples of Jesus.
One couple that attends regularly is Aung* and his wife Phyu.* Aung is a small, wiry man, who has made his living as a carpenter. “I was very faithful to Buddha,” he says through an interpreter. “I would collect money for the monks and did construction for monasteries and pagodas without any charge.”
It was Aung’s older sister who changed the course of his life. She had become a follower of Jesus and sent her brother a Bible and a movie about Jesus. Aung was sceptical, but his sister invited him and his wife to an evangelistic meeting. There they heard about the miracles of Jesus, including how he cast out demons with only a word – He didn’t need incense, candles or special chants. When Phyu surrendered her life to Jesus, Aung immediately followed.
Trouble started as soon as the couple returned home. Their village consists of about 200 households, all Buddhist. Aung was “invited” to the monastery to explain where he and his wife had been, and they were given three days to decide to return to Buddhism.
Four days later, Aung removed the traditional Buddhist shrine from his home and carried it to the local pagoda. The next day, the village chief demanded that every household send a representative to a meeting to confront Aung. At the gathering, Aung was asked to bow before the idol and recite a passage from Buddhist sacred texts, but he refused.
Next the leader demanded that Aung publicly declare himself a Christian. Softly he responded: “I and my family are Christian.”
“Did you hear that?” yelled the leader. “Did you hear him say they are Christian?” As one the crowd shouted “Yes!”
Believers in Myanmar often face this uncertain fate, being forced to leave their villages, but with nowhere to go that will be a safe haven for them and their families.
- Pray for believers in Myanmar, like Aung and Phyu, who face ostracism from their communities and families because of their faith.
- Pray for protection for Myanmar believers, and also for a better understanding of their faith from within the Buddhist community.
- Pray for the new government in Myanmar, to uphold freedom of religion for minority groups, including Christians.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit across this nation, for barriers of fear and suspicion to be broken down, and for many to come to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus.
Matthew 19 vs 29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.”