The military regime seeks to destroy Christianity (which it calls “the C-virus”), yet faith keeps spreading. Christians are generally kept out of positions of power and influence. Military campaigns against Christian minorities are well publicized, and over 3,000 Christian villages have been burned out in the last 10 years. Churches are not given permission to register and are thereby considered illegal and subject to harassment. The expulsion of foreign Christian workers in 1966 left a young church to cope on its own with little mature leadership or infrastructure. Adversity, persecution and isolation have helped shape a resilient, enduring faith.
The Church faces many challenges in Myanmar. Pray about these issues:
a) Limitations on the freedom to function as the Church, since many restrictions exist. Authorities generally disallow new church buildings from being constructed. The importation of Christian literature is severely limited. In many cases Christians are pressured or forced to convert to Buddhism.
b) Nominalism and revival are simultaneous dynamics. Several generations after the arrival of Christianity through Adoniram Judson and others, it is to some more a tradition with irrelevant forms than a living faith. In some circles, Western humanism erodes the Bible’s authority. But at the same time, many mainline and traditional denominations find themselves in the midst of revival and renewal, which is happening across previously entrenched denominational lines.
c) Most Christians are from minority groups that are embroiled in military actions against the central government. Pray that this may not cause bitterness, hatred of other peoples, compromise of their faith or blunting of a missions vision. Isolation, poverty and lack of training hamper the ability of these groups to be a witness, but this is changing.
d) Reconciliation and unity among Christians is a crucial issue. There were many causes of division – ethnic, political, passivism or military activism, and doctrinal. Strong centralized control under one authoritarian church/denominational leader along with parochialism kept Christians apart and growth limited. Pray for:
i The forces of spiritual unity. The burgeoning prayer movement, those impacted by renewal and the emerging generation of leaders are joining to stand as one.
ii The organizational bodies fostering fellowship. Pray that the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC), the Myanmar Evangelical Christian Fellowship (MECF) and the Myanmar Biblical Christian Fellowship (MBCF) may effectively promote Christian unity.
iii Cultural leadership patterns combining with imported sectarianism from abroad. The need to start one’s own denomination, the foreign money available for ministry and the sectarian principles imbued upon nationals who studied abroad is a dangerous cocktail. Pray for wisdom for national leaders in learning to deal with these challenges.