World Watch List: 19
Leader: President Win Myint
Population: 54.3 million
Christian: 4.3 million
Main Religion: Buddhism
Government: Parliamentary Government
Source of Persecution: Religious Nationalism
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Myanmar through:
- Christian literature distribution
- Pastoral and leadership training
- Discipleship programmes
- Livelihood support
- Children and youth training
”I struggled. It was painful to be without a family. But it would have been more painful without Jesus. I decided to go to a Bible school so I could learn more about God and how to serve Him.”
– Elijah (pseudonym), a Christian in Myanmar who was disowned by his father
Source of persecution: Religious nationalism / Dictatorial paranoia
There is an increasing emphasis on Buddhism in Myanmar, to the exclusion of all other minorities. An estimated 60% of Myanmar’s population is of Burmese ethnicity, which is equated with being Buddhist. Communities that aim to remain “Buddhist only” make life for Christian families impossible by not allowing them to use community water resources. Buddhist monks also stir up the local community to act against Christians. In some villages, believers are not allowed to be part of the community.
The continuing war against insurgencies affects, among others, predominantly Christian Kachin, Shan and Karen States. More than 100,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes and are living in camps where they are denied access to food and healthcare. This war goes widely unnoticed, eclipsed by the widely publicized situation of the Rohingya.
Also in northern Shan State, the Communist United Wa State Army continues to act violently against Christians and churches, especially those active in proselytising.
Converts and church leaders targeted
Believers from a Buddhist, Muslim, or ethnic-animist background face the strongest persecution from the local authorities, as well as from their families and communities. Pressure starts from socially boycotting the believers, to threats, and eventually to expulsion from the village. There is a small number of Christian converts among the Rohingya people who had to flee the country. They have become more visible, and experience persecution from their families.
Non-traditional church groups experience opposition, too, especially in rural areas, or if they are known for proselytizing. Churches are monitored and church leaders are targeted. It is very difficult to print or import Christian materials, especially those in minority languages. Children of Christians face discrimination by teachers and bullying by other children.
- For Christian converts who have lost their homes and families after following Jesus. Pray that they can find a new home and family in the church.
- That God will provide for the Christians living in camps who have been denied humanitarian aid.
- That the Buddhist monks who perpetuate much of the persecution against Christians will have an encounter with Jesus Christ and be brought to repentance.