The Church in Burma is Growing Despite Obstacles

July 13, 2009

Damage from Cyclone Nargis

". . .upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18

Devastating cyclones, bitter ethnic wars, and human rights abuses have all had a part in contributing to the poverty and spiritual darkness that characterizes Burma today. Despite this opposition, the church in Burma is gaining ground against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12).

Christian Aid assists a number of ministries* in Burma which give the following reports concerning their various strategies for spreading the gospel:

Faith with Works

"I am conducting meetings with the churches, pastors, and workers, exhorting them to stand firm in the faith. These are fiery times for testing their faith. The government has put high restrictions on work among the cyclone victims. They presume that what we are doing is for political purposes. (Even Buddhist monks and laymen, interested in helping victims, are being persecuted. Some were caught and sentenced to very long jail terms–45 to 65 years!)

Local church planted by native missionaries

"Because of your faithful and consistent support, my workers and I were able to reach 300 Buddhists. We shared about the last days and distributed tracts among them. In another area we were able to distribute rice and used clothing, as well as medicine for the elderly and ailing. This particular tribe lives in a secluded area, so we were able to preach the gospel.

"The mobile clinic you helped open allowed us to treat 1130 patients. Many of them were elderly, who shed tears of joy. They were so grateful for this display of Christian love."

Bible Teaching and Training

Another brother, who leads a teaching ministry, remembers a time when confusion arose among the churches in Burma due to a lack of theological training. "This was in the 70´s and even though a revival swept through the country, there were no reputable Bible schools. Church leaders of that era left the country and enrolled in schools in other areas of the world. When they completed their studies, they returned to Burma to launch an indigenous ministry."

He said, "We began with only four faculty members and 77 students our first year. But despite opposition to the Bible, the Lord, and Christians in general, this ministry is going forward. With help received from Christian Aid recently, we were able to assist 20 more Bible students from the scholarship fund. We also have a Bible correspondence course available for those wanting to learn more about Jesus, or who find it difficult to leave their current ministry for an extended period."

Church Planting

New believer baptized

"Week-long evangelistic camp meetings in remote towns and villages are held wherever the Lord opens the door. Relationships are built by providing for some of their needs, such as food, medicine, and nursing care. The Word is preached and Bibles are given out. When our evangelistic team leaves the village, we leave behind a church planter. In time he will disciple a vessel chosen from the tribe to become the church leader. This new disciple is then brought back to our training center for three months of training. When he returns to his village, he will take over as pastor. Our original worker is then "rotated" into another unreached area," explains another Burmese leader.

While much has been accomplished, much needs to be done. Many people who survived the cyclone are still without adequate shelter or other basic necessities. More follow-up is needed in the remote villages where the gospel has been heard for the first time. Income generating projects, such as raising pigs or ducks, will help the people re-establish their lives. (Businesses that were destroyed during the cyclone are no longer a source of income.)

"Please continue to pray for our ministry," writes Brother G. "My most pressing goal is to witness in every nook and corner of our country before the imminent return of our Lord Jesus." Amen!

*For reasons of security, we do not mention the names of ministries or the workers involved.