The past year was filled with preparations for the first free and fair elections in 25 years, held on November 8, 2015, which saw a landslide win for the opposition under Aung San Suu Kyi. Most ethnic minority parties did not win seats in the new parliament, so it will likely include less Christians than before. During the campaign and elections, the Burmese army continued its attacks against ethnic minorities in Kachin and Shan State, even though a ceasefire agreement was signed on October 15, 2015. Christians are strongly affected by such attacks and the level of violence is high. Additionally, an organization of Buddhist radical monks (Ma Ba Tha) increased their campaigns against religious minorities and successfully helped introduce four laws for the “Protection of Race and Religion” in August 2015, building insurmountable hurdles for conversions and religiously mixed marriages.
In a small church with sky blue walls is a woman with gold, heart-shaped earrings. She sits on the floor with men and women singing praises.
Things were already difficult for Ali before he lost his job for following Jesus.
Nationally, 2016 brings a new President and Parliament to Myanmar with questions as to how life will change for Christians. Also, Open Doors brings radical change to Christian marriages among the Chin Christian minority.
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.”