Missionaries Native to Burma Face Daunting Challenges

September 18, 2014

Burmese missionaries pray for people in the Sagaing Region of Burma.

The Naga people of northwestern Burma (Myanmar) live in remote areas where Buddhism and worship of spirits with malicious characteristics are prevalent. Even for a native of the nearest town, reaching these people means finding one´s way across the massive Chindwin River and winding through formidable mountain forests.

Reaching them spiritually can be even more daunting, but local Burmese ministries that Christian Aid Mission assists have been sharing their lives in Christ with villagers in the Naga hills bordering India since 1959. A local missions director said that by God's grace they have planted six churches in six villages, with a current total of about 180 souls.

“Those are very small villages,” he said. “But there are a lot of villages to win for Christ. They are ripe, but the workers are few. Please pray with us to send more missionaries into our mission fields.”

In March the leader took one of his missionaries to the Naga hills villages in the Kalaymyo, Sagaing Region, to conduct an evangelistic outreach with a local missionary he already had there in the field. After two days, including a 12-hour Jeep ride through the forests and twice ferrying across the river, they arrived at the village of Sinty. The director had not been able to talk to the local missionary before their trip. Once they arrived, he learned that it was a very busy time for the villagers and most of them would not be able to attend evangelistic meetings.

“We were down-hearted, but we decided to do our best to conduct a mass evangelistic meeting and to lead at least one soul to Christ,” the missions director said. “I paid for the gas, and a motorcyclist went to the nearby villages to inform the people about the evangelistic meeting.”

The first day 39 people showed up. The next day, more than 60 people from nearby villages came, and on the final day 45 attended, including Christians from six homes in the village.

“But God and His Holy Spirit were present, and in the evening of the last day nine people accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and they were baptized in the waters of the Chindwin River!” explained the missions director.

"At the meeting that night, the Lord filled the worshippers´ hearts with joy, as they praised and thanked Him".

The local indigenous missionary is working with the nine new Christians, who are growing into solid disciples. The missionary had already established a small church in the village with Naga families from the six homes. “Before they became Christians, all of them were worshipping evil spirits and Buddha,” noted the director, and the nine new believers have charged it with a renewed spirit."

The church could also use another kind of energy. They can worship only during the day. It is too dark in the evening. “If you can pray for a solar panel and battery for them, that would be helpful.” requested the director.

A youthful audience listens to the gospel in a village of Burma.

Six villages need a solar panel and battery at a cost of $500 each, or $3,000.

Descended from Tibeto-Burman ethnic races, most of the estimated 2 million Naga people live in India, though there are about 100,000 in Burma. They have a long history of living in isolation in mountainous areas 3,000 to 4,000 feet above sea level.

About 80 percent of the country´s population practices Buddhism, which in Burma includes spiritist, occult and superstitious beliefs that pre-date Buddhism, according to Operation World. Buddhist notions are deeply imbedded in animist beliefs in Burma. Evangelical Christians make up 5 percent of the country´s population.

Besides Sinti, the other villages where his missionaries have planted churches in the Naga hills of Burma are Khanti, Long Sauh Gyi, Long Sauh Lay, Pin Thawng and A Thet Seih, according to the director, who gave thanks for Christian Aid Mission supporters.

“We thank God for you and pray that the Lord will ‘supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness,’” he said. “Please pray for the churches to grow in their spiritual life and their lifestyle in order to win their own people to Christ. In fact, we need to do a lot of development programs for them in order to develop their daily lives as well.”