These are just the first three minutes of the short clip that 60-year-old Samson showed our team. The video was taken a couple of days after his home was attacked by a mob, when Samson’s household had just accepted Jesus. It has been three years since Samson’s neighbors tried to kill his family, eventually driving them out of their village. Today, the danger for them still stands. This is why his family now stays with an Open Doors partner in a secret safe house in Myanmar.
First you see the motorbikes. Brown and dusty, piled on top of each other. Then a man passes a loose electrical cord hanging from the roof. He climbs up the steps of a wooden house on stilts and walks into a mangled mess of rubble and rock. Hidden underneath the fallen debris is what remains of this family’s living room.
Samson lived in a typical Burmese village, in a wooden hut with 20 of his loved ones. His children and grandchildren stayed with him, as is typical for families in Asia. For so long, he and his family believed in Buddha—in the way of the dharma—and they tried their hardest to be good.
“Before, when I was a Buddhist, I did good in many ways. I thought I was good enough. My life was enough for salvation. I knew I would go to a good place. I thought of my life like that,” Samson shared with our small team.
“It sounds simple, but every day, we cannot do good things,” he continues. “We cannot offer many things. Sometimes, I could not meditate. Because of things that I couldn’t do, automatically, I knew I was going to hell.”
After a pastor shared the good news of Jesus with Samson in 2017, he realized that he couldn’t go back to trying to earn his own salvation. “We have Jesus who saves us from eternal hell. I am not against Buddhism, but I cannot follow it anymore. Jesus died for us. He has given us eternal life. He is the living God and our Savior. We cannot compromise.”
He continues, “I don’t say Buddhists are not good people. They are very good, but we are all sinners. We need to accept Jesus Christ. We cannot compromise with eternal life. Buddhists are good people, but we cannot follow Buddhism. Our faith is in Jesus now.”
It was fantastic for Samson to have finally learned the truth about God. But it immediately became clear that choosing to put his faith in Jesus would have consequences.
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“When our family accepted Jesus Christ, the village people learned that we became Christian. Our neighbors informed our village chief and discussed with Buddhist monks and higher authorities. They had a big meeting in a Buddhist monastery and they called our family members. They also called other families from the village to attend this meeting. So, in that meeting, there were a lot of people. There
were around 50 monks and around 200 people there. They were all talking about what they would do with my family.
“The Buddhist monk then asked me, with his booming voice: ‘Do you really believe in the Christian faith? Are you really going to believe in Jesus? Are you not coming back to our religion?’
“I said: ‘We are not going to deny our faith. We’re not going to reject our faith. We’ll believe Jesus until we die!’”
Early the next morning, five trucks came to Samson’s village and mysteriously dumped hundreds of stones right in front of his house. At a school behind their house, two other trucks dumped some more stones as well. Samson asked the the headmaster of the school about the stones, but the headmaster himself said the stones were dumped in the school grounds without his permission. It was a curious sight, but Samson dismissed it in the end, thinking all of the stones were just meant for road repairs.
He couldn’t have been more wrong.
The day it rained rocks
Bright and early the next morning, Samson and his daughter were just about to head back to the monastery. They had been called again for another meeting with the leaders of the village, so to prepare themselves for the meeting, their family prayed.
While they were praying, Samson heard voices. It was the village chief’s voice, and he wasn’t alone. “Kill him! Samson, ask your God to save you now!”
His family knelt together to pray, hand in cold, sweaty, hand. The shouts grew louder and louder, “KILL HIM!” Then there was silence – a whoosh, and a thud. The first rock.
Samson remembers, “They threw stone upon stone upon stone. All our windows and doors were open and they were stoning us nonstop. My granddaughter stood up and closed the windows. She was hit on her breast and was wounded. She gasped in pain, screaming ‘Jesus save me! Jesus save me!’ and placed her palm on her wound. Right then and there, it was miraculously healed!
“There was so much noise. They were shouting ‘Kill them, kill them!’ But we were still praying to God. We did not stop praying, even when they almost burned our house.
“They tried to destroy our three motorbikes and two bicycles. They tried to burn them. They covered them in petrol and they tried to burn them, but there was no fire.
“‘Oh you better die, or we will kill you. We will burn you!’ screamed the mob.
“We were crying and praying. They were still shouting at us: ‘If your God is alive, tell him to save you now! Still, we just prayed.”
The mob went for the fuse next. “They went to the back of our house and pulled down the fuse from the power cable post. They tried to make a fire. They tried to make electric shocks. By then we exclaimed, ‘Lord Jesus please help us! We are almost dying. If you don’t help us Lord, we will die soon!’”
As if on cue, the electricity died. The livewire and electric shocks stopped.
The mob didn’t give up easily. They were intent on harming Samson and his family. “They couldn’t burn our home so they went instead to my youngest daughter’s house, which is a few minutes’ walk from my place. They destroyed her house, the table, and the chairs. They attacked it for around 10 minutes and they came back again to my house, screaming: ‘Are you still alive? Has your God saved you or not?’
“While they were shouting outside, my other daughter called our pastor for help. Someone from church went to the police station and they came to get us. After an hour, the police officer finally came to our village. They couldn’t even enter because there were still a lot of people stoning us. I remember a Buddhist monk who came and asked, ‘Is there anyone here who is still alive? Come now out of the house.’”
‘As long as I have Jesus, I am joyful’
Samson and his family emerged relatively unscathed. They were taken to the township administrative office after the attack and were also later sent to the hospital.
“Though we were persecuted, we did not die,” he continues. “We only sustained some injuries on our heads. When we came out of the house, the people were amazed because we were still alive.”
Shortly after the attack, Samson and his family were taken in by an Open Doors partner to stay with him in a safehouse in Myanmar. This is a temporary setup. Open Doors is planning to help them with relocating and building a house.
“I would like to thank God, and I would like to thank those who have been financially supporting and encouraging me with their words. May God bless you more and more and may you continue to do more for other people. I would like to say thank you, and I’m praying for you. Because you helped me, the glory of God is manifested. Please pray for me so that I can do this ministry always and also pray for building the house.”
Despite the wounds and the trauma, Samson chose not to press charges against those who came to attack him. Incredibly, the man who tried to set his house on fire even came to Samson and begged for forgiveness – he is also a follower of Jesus now.
Impossible as it may be to believe, this is what Samson says:
“The police officer came and asked the pastor who helped us whether we wanted to file a case or not. We said we didn’t want to file a case. We will forgive them. We will be patient. After accepting Jesus, I can love anyone. Even if people hate me, I can love them, because God is a loving God. God is love.
“We are sinners. We need to accept Jesus Christ. We cannot compromise with eternal life. Buddhists are good people, but we cannot follow Buddhism. Our faith is in Jesus.
“In my life, I’ve never had peace. Before, I didn’t have peace. Now, in Jesus, my life is peaceful. Even though I don’t have money, even though I don’t have anything – as long as I have Jesus – I am joyful. Before, even though we had money, we were not happy. There was no peace. Now, I have peace. I am happy. I have joy. This is my Christian life.”
We recently contacted Samson to find out how he has been coping with the COVID-19 crisis. During the lockdowns, Samson has faced hardship and struggled to get enough food because he could not go out to work. He makes charcoal for a living but couldn’t do this due to the lockdowns, and was unable to farm because of bad weather. The pastor helped Samson and his family by sharing food with them.
Samson and his family of 11 members live in the safe house. The government has brought in restrictions so that a maximum of five people can stay in a house, so they have been questioned by the government. His son-in-law has a plot of land and he is planning to build a house – please pray that they will be able to build the house soon.
Pray with Samson and Myanmar believers
Samson says, “Please pray for us. We are now staying with Pastor in the mission field (safe house). Pray that we will effectively do our mission, serve with the pastor and journey with him. Pray for us also. Now we are going to build a new house. We are buying the land, and we will build a new house. Pray for us. For our family, that we will stand in faith and that we will glorify His name day to day.”
· Samson is just one of the many believers in Asia who have been driven out of their homes and attacked by their neighbors because of their faith. Pray that God will protect and sustain those like Samson, that they will be able to endure the humiliation and attacks. Pray for comfort and shelter, and that Open Doors local partners will be able to reach those most in need of support.
· Praise the Lord for the good news that one of Samson’s persecutors has come to faith. Pray that Samson and his family’s testimony will continue to be a shining light that points to Jesus Christ.