Burma (MNN) — Around the world, July is a historic month.
On July 4, 1776, thirteen colonies that would eventually become the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain. Nelson Mandela, figurehead for equality in South Africa and eventual president of that nation, was born to a Tembu tribal chieftain in 1918.
Boris Yeltsin, the first popularly elected president in Russia’s thousand-year history, took the oath of office on July 10, 1991.
It’s no different in Burma.
Earlier this month, the primarily-Christian Chin people had their first-ever meeting with the European Union. Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, says Burma first heard the Gospel 200 years ago in July.
At the EU hearing, officials took a look at key challenges facing the ethnic Chin, including significant human rights abuses.
According to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), one of the groups who testified in the EU hearing, approximately 100,000 Chin refugees in India face substantial challenges. Over the past two years, more than 100 violent sexual assaults have taken place in Delhi alone.
“In a sense, what is happening in Chin State is a barometer for the rest of the country,” CHRO Program Director Salai Za Uk Ling testified at the hearing. “Serious human rights abuses by the Burma Army continue with impunity, including sexual violence.
“We want to shine a light on the root causes, such as ethnic and religious discrimination, and the urgent need to deepen the reforms.”
According to Christian Aid, indigenous missionaries are shining the Light of Christ in Burma’s spiritual darkness.
“I was born and brought up in a Christian family. My grandfather became a Christian many years ago amid much hostility,” said Sya*, a modern-day Chin church planter supported by Christian Aid. “By 1988, I made a commitment to serve the Lord in whatever capacity He prepared for me.”
While traveling extensively throughout the country, Sya saw young people respond eagerly to the Gospel with a desire to teach others. He established Myanmar Rural Mission to equip young missionaries with practical knowledge and field experience.
Today, the group supports 22 native missionaries who bring the Good News to remote villages. Myanmar Rural Mission focuses on people groups including the Koki, Lahu, Akha, Tedim, Shan and Meitei.
Despite nationwide reforms over the past three years, Burma is still lacking religious freedom. Buddhism remains firmly entrenched and fervently protected by political and military leaders. As a result, missionaries who lead Buddhists to Christ may face imprisonment or even death.
Pray true religious freedom will come to Burma, so believers can share Christ without fear.
Internal conflict between Burma’s government and minority ethnic parties began soon after the country gained independence in 1948. Multiple ceasefire agreements have been signed and just as quickly broken, creating a seemingly never-ending environment of civil war.
Pray the Burmese government and separatist groups work out peace agreements and end the bloodshed.
The Chin people are one of Burma’s largest ethnic groups, and the majority of them follow Christ. To help indigenous missionaries encourage their fellow believers and bring God’s Word to those who have never heard it, click here.