Burmese pilgrims and tour busses filled with foreigners flock to a massive limestone cave near the town of Pindaya in the heart of Myanmar. Inside the caverns are more than 8,000 golden statues of Buddha collected over more than 240 years. Just a few miles away, hidden in plain sight among modest cement and brick homes lives a missionary pastor. During the week, he earns a meager living making and selling liquid soap—Open Doors provided the initial investment for the business. On Sundays, his home becomes a church for 12 former Buddhists who are now disciples of Jesus.
One couple that attends regularly is Aung* and his wife Phyu.* Aung is a small, wiry man, 59 years old, who has made his living as a carpenter. Until his conversion in 2012. “I was very faithful to Buddha,” he says through an interpreter. “I would collect money for the monks and did construction for monasteries and pagodas without any charge.”
Devout Buddhists constantly work to earn “merits” through a variety of good deeds. One is to sponsor boys as temporary monks. He also practiced regular mediation and even learned rituals for casting out evil spirits.
It was Aung’s older sister who changed the course of his life. She had become a follower of Jesus and sent her brother a Bible and a movie about Jesus. Aung was skeptical. Then his sister invited him and his wife to an evangelistic meeting. There they heard about the miracles of Jesus, including how he cast out demons with only a word—He didn’t need incense, candles or special chants. When Phyu surrendered her life to Jesus, Aung immediately followed.
Trouble started as soon as the couple returned home. Their village consists of about 200 households, all Buddhist. Aung was “invited” to the monastery to explain where he and his wife had been. One man declared that Aung and his wife had three days to decide to return to Buddhism.
Four days later, Aung removed the traditional Buddhist shrine from his home and carried it to the local pagoda. He was secretly followed. The next day, the village chief demanded that every household send a representative to a meeting to confront Aung. At the gathering, Aung was asked to bow before the idol and recite a passage from Buddhist sacred texts. Aung refused.
Next the leader demanded that Aung publically declare himself a Christian. Softly he responded: “I and my family are Christian.”
“Did you hear that?” yelled the leader. “Did you hear him say they are Christian?” As one the crowd shouted “Yes!”
When Aung arrived home to tell his wife the news, he saw someone in the shadows cut the electricity to their house. The question was where to move? Believers in Myanmar often face this uncertain fate, so please continue to pray for them.
*Name changed for security reasons