General Min Aung Hlaing
Converts to Christianity in Myanmar find themselves persecuted by their Buddhist, Muslim or tribal families and communities because they have left their former faith and have thereby removed themselves from community life. Communities who aim to stay “Buddhist only” make life for Christian families impossible by not allowing them to use neighborhood water resources. Non-traditional church groups experience opposition, especially when they are located in the country’s rural areas and/or are known for proselytizing. While Buddhist monks are somewhat divided concerning the 2021 military coup, many of the more radical monks support it. Christians worry that the coup will return the country to a military rule that was brutal for many believers.
“Every day I hear gunshots and grenades. The sound comes only one bus stop away from my house. At night, most homes do not turn on lights after 8 p.m. And nobody makes any noise. Sometimes I hear gunshots in the evening and around midnight. We also stay indoors during the day. We cannot go out except for shopping for groceries. I live in the middle of Yangon without security. Please pray for the safety of me and my family.”
2021 has been a momentous year for Myanmar and for the Christian community in the country. After the military coup in February 2021, fighting has continued in predominantly Christian states like Kachin State, Karen State or in northern Shan State. Churches have been destroyed and Christians killed in Chin State (another majority-Christian region) and churches and pastors have been targeted. More Christians than ever have been driven out to live in camps for displaced people, where they are often deprived of access to food and healthcare because of their faith. In the quickly evolving Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), Christians are involved as well. Parallel to this widely peaceful resistance, fighting has increased across the country and although not all ethnic minority armed groups are involved, some Christian ones are.
The fighting that has erupted since the military coup has endangered all Christians. But Christians who are converts from Buddhism risk opposition from both community and government, and Christians who belong to ethnic groups are targets of the military junta that controls Myanmar.
Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Myanmar with the help of our local partners through efforts like literature distribution, discipleship programs, training and socio-economic aid.