Myanmar remains mired in a violent conflict that is having a devastating impact on the country’s Christian minority.
Since the military coup in February 2021, Christians have encountered greater violence and tighter restrictions. Believers have been killed and churches have been indiscriminately attacked, even well-established ones in predominantly Christian states like Chin and Kayah. More Christians than ever have been driven out of their homes and have found refuge in churches or IDP camps. Some are even forced to flee to the jungle where they are often deprived of access to food and health care.
Christians are part of the generally peaceful resistance movement, but fighting has increased across the country, and although not all ethnic minority armed groups are involved, some Christian ones are. Government forces have continued to disproportionally attack Christian villages and churches and also killed Christian aid workers and pastors, often in aerial attacks.
Beyond the conflict, converts to Christianity find themselves persecuted by their Buddhist, Muslim or tribal families and communities because they have left their former faith. Communities who aim to stay "Buddhist only" make life for Christian families impossible.
Non-traditional church groups experience opposition, too, especially those located in rural areas and those who are known for their evangelistic activities.
In the past year, Myanmar’s civil war has become entrenched in areas with a significant Christian presence, such as Chin state. But the widespread nature of conflict, and the threat facing converts in places where the Christian influence is smaller, means that persecution is a very real risk for our sisters and brothers in different parts of the country.
“God taught me through His Word that all things happen for good. Since I have experienced persecution, I can now better understand the pain experienced by Christians suffering for their faith."Ko Aung, forced to flee Myanmar after intrusive surveillance by the authorities
The military's increasing use of sophisticated technology, much of which comes from China and Russia, is presenting another challenge for believers in Myanmar. Those under suspicion are likely to face intrusive surveillance, making it difficult to escape the military's clutches. Christians also have to be mindful of what they say on the phone, while local partners must be careful in their communications and financial transactions. In the immediate onset of the coup in 2021, phone and internet lines were cut in Christian-majority areas to prevent news spreading of what was going on, and today, anyone who shares anything online about the authorities risks severe consequences.
Working through local partners, Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Myanmar through literature distribution, discipleship and leadership programmes, livelihood support, and youth, children and families ministries.
Dear God, bend the hearts of the military towards justice, peace and freedom, and bring lasting safety and stability to this troubled nation. Refresh the spirits of weary believers and strengthen them as they respond to challenges in the ways You want them to. Protect churches and believers, and may Christians not be seen as a threat to different sides but as peacemakers. We especially pray for young people; captivate their hearts, keep them from the evil one, and show them the precious callings You have for them. Thank You for the wonderful work of church leaders and local partners; nourish them as they seek to nourish others, and equip them for every task. Amen.