Amid bloodshed, COVID-19 and a paralyzed economy one year after a military coup, the gospel has advanced in Burma (Myanmar) against all odds, native missionaries said.
Since the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup that plunged the country into chaos, hundreds of civilians have been killed in random violence even as COVID-19 raged. Among victims of the virus were many Christian workers. A native ministry leader said that from May to August alone, 413 Christian evangelists and other workers with various ministry organizations died from the pandemic.
“COVID-19 killed 413 Christian ministers within four months, some of them close friends and relatives,” the leader said. “Among our missionaries, four caught COVID-19 and almost died, but they have been restored and have worked hard in soul-winning outreach.”
One of the native missionaries nearly died from COVID-19 in July, and since then he and his wife have planted a church, the leader said.
“He and his wife brought non-Christians and conducted salvation Bible training at his house five times in October and November,” the leader said. “He baptized 23 people, and they all joined the church.”
Another local missionary who works among devout Buddhists invited non-Christians to his house every weekend for dinner, where he taught them about Christ.
“In the month of November, he reached 48 people with the Good News, and 14 of them accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord – halleluiah!” the leader said. “He said that if he’s not telling the Good News, he is not able to sleep or eat.”
One of the ministry’s evangelists is literally a frontline missionary; he works in a town where military fighting is severe, resistance to the gospel is staunch and cases of COVID-19 are high, the leader said.
“However, he never gives up,” he said. “With prayers, he visited people’s houses and shared the gospel. The power of the gospel saved 11 people in November, and he baptized them. Now he has 11 families in his house church.”
Such gospel advance took place at a time when pandemic lockdowns and military conflict made going out of one’s house unthinkable in many areas. Violence by the military, armed ethnic rebels, protestors and random criminals shows no sign of abating one year after the coup began, and indeed the civil war is getting worse, the leader said.
“Some civilians are hiding in the forests,” he said. “In cities and towns, bomb explosions and gun-shootings happen every day. Killing happens every day. Some people are crying that they do not want to live in this world due to the trouble. In the midst of the horrific trouble, we try to find opportunities for ministry. The Lord enables us to have some wonderful ministries.”
In one such ministry, a local missionary carried out a three-day gospel event in November – at his house.
“Eight non-Christians came faithfully,” the leader said. “Praise the Lord that four of them accepted Jesus Christ. Their salvation campaign was held while gun shootings and bomb attacks were happening in that town. In the midst of a dangerous battle, a salvation campaign was going on inside the closed house.”
Aid amid Danger
In rural areas where ethnic rebels are fighting government forces, civilian sites are routinely targeted, and residents have fled to villages, jungles or church buildings.
In one town, no one dares live in their own house, the ministry leader said. Food disappeared as shops were robbed and livestock was destroyed.
“We have provided eight motorbikes and 450 rice bags through a jungle route,” he said. “The routes are really risky. One of our missionaries rode a bike on a highway road to carry food for the people, and unexpectedly a bomb exploded. Amazingly, he was not killed. His bike was shattered in pieces, and the trees nearby him were destroyed by the bomb.”
Fighting drove civilians from one town and 15 villages into the forests, and some of the ministry’s workers fled along with them, he said.
“They have been in the forests for two months,” the leader said. “This created an opportunity to preach and teach the Word of God. Some people got saved. One missionary’s house was shot by a rocket after he fled. Christ’s soldiers cannot stop doing the ministry.”
Another native ministry serving displaced people has also found opportunities to proclaim Christ amid the dangers.
Workers provided three meals a day to people at a camp for those displaced by war in a three-day outreach in November, the ministry leader said. Workers also left them with packages of noodles, rice and onions for their later daily sustenance.
“We taught about the salvation of Christ, that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and that He only is the one true God,” the leader said. “These people are Buddhists who are living in a very remote area where no Christian missionaries reach.”
Displaced by war since December 2019, the people had long been difficult to reach due to political violence in the area, he said.
“But God had a plan for their salvation,” the leader said. “Four Buddhists accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. We give glory to God. We can do this by the power of the Holy Spirit. We gave water baptism to those four newly converted people, and they are now living in a new life.”
Workers are braving violence and the pandemic to serve such people throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to help local missionaries bring the love of Christ to people in Burma’s darkest hour.