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EDITORIAL
Prayer for Burma's Forgotten Christians
By Glenn Penner
Glenn Penner of VOM - Canada
28-Sep-2005
"At Christian Monitor we are blessed to present editorials and commentaries by Glenn Penner of VOM - Canada. Glenn is an inspiration to all who are burdened for the persecuted Christians around the world."

Last week I spoke with a Burmese church leader concerned about recent government actions against Christians in his country. Controlled by a brutal military government, Burma (or Myanmar) has become a pariah state in the eyes of much of the civilized world with its abysmal human right record. The situation facing Christians, especially in rural areas controlled by rebels opposed to the ruling regime, is grim and worsening. The government tends to distrust all Christians, assuming that they must be sympathetic to the rebels since the insurgents are often from regions of the country with minority ethnic groups who are predominantly Christian in belief, such as the Karen and Kachin. The government's links with the country's Buddhist clergy also causes them to oppose any evangelistic efforts by the Church.

Recent government crackdowns on house churches and the closure of a church in Rangoon earlier this month (see http://www.persecution.net/news/myanmar4.html) is evidence that the persecution of Christians in Burma is not restricted to rebel areas, however. Most concerning was last month's order to close all house church meetings. Believers were told that they may only worship in recognized church buildings. While many groups have complied with the order, others have not and continue to meet secretly in believer's homes, despite the threat of imprisonment if caught.

Why do they take this risk? Because evangelistically minded Christians have found that this is one of the most effective means of bringing Buddhist neighbours and friends to Christ. Many Buddhists have reportedly welcomed the opportunity to hear the claims of Christ in the warmth and hospitality of their neighbour's home and subsequently opened their hearts to the Lord as a result. Restricting outreach to the walls of a church building would mean the death of such evangelistic opportunities.

This is precisely the intent of the order.

I asked my brother how we can pray for the Christians of Burma, especially in the light of the fact that his homeland is one of the featured countries in this year's International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church here in Canada (see http://www.idop.ca). He asked that we would prayer for the following:

  • Pray for a change in the religious policy in Burma and a lifting of the restrictions on house church meetings.
  • Pray for those who are trying to establish strong gospel foundations in the Church there. The spread of liberal theology in the mid-20th century has had a devastating effect on the church in Burma and many theological schools and church leaders need to come to an understanding of basic Christian truths.
  • Pray that the Bible schools will begin to emphasize basic Christian discipleship and teaching.
  • Pray that church leaders will preach the gospel of salvation.
  • Pray for unity amoung the Christians in the watching eyes of their society.
  • Pray that the many nominal Christians will come to faith in Christ.
  • Pray for Christian children who attend Buddhist schools and who are pressured to abandon their faith and who, upon graduation, are often coerced to either join the military or become Buddhist monks.
  • May I ask that you join me in remembering the believers of Burma in your prayers this week? This is a country which we rarely hear anything from. Believers there, however, believe that Burma could become a central hub from which the nations of the region could be won for Christ. Pray that the Spirit of God would work in the hearts of minds of the Church and government there to that end.

    (Glenn Penner is the Communications Director for The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada)
    Jim Dykstra