The following story does not involve Advent Christians in Myanmar but is republished to give an indication of what many Christians still face in that country.
The story was posted in September by Open Doors Australia and New Zealand and was first published in their Frontline Faith Magazine – The Rise of Extremism Edition.
*Names have been changed for security reasons.
“Aung* And Phyu* – From Buddhism To Christ
Welcome to Pindaya, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), where tourists and pilgrims from around the world journey to see the limestone caves and over 8000 golden statues that are set up as a shrine to Buddha.
Nearby, a missionary pastor quietly transforms his humble home into a church for former Buddhists who are now disciples of Jesus. All of them are now outcasts.
Aung* and his wife Phyu* were once devout Buddhists. Aung worked as a carpenter until his conversion in 2012.
Constantly working to earn ‘merits’ through good deeds, Aung sponsored boys to train in the monastery, practised meditation and learned rituals for casting out evil spirits.
It was Aung’s older sister who changed the course of his life. She had invited Aung and Phyu to a Christian meeting. They were moved by the worship and teaching and gave their lives to Jesus.
Trouble started as soon as the couple returned home. Their village consisted of about 200 households, all Buddhist. Aung was “invited” to the monastery to explain where he and his wife had been. When he openly explained, he was told that they had three days to return to Buddhism.
Four days later, under the cover of darkness, 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 meeting Aung was asked to bow before the idol and recite a passage from Buddhist scripture. He refused. The monk demanded that Aung publicly declare himself a Christian. Aung quietly said, “My family and I are Christian.”
“I can’t hear you!” The monk screamed. “Speak up. Shout!”
Aung grabbed a microphone and boldly declared, “My family and I are Christian!”
The monk then announced, “Aung is no longer a Buddhist. He can no longer live in our village. Are you agreed?” Everyone raised their hands.
Aung fled from his village to Pindaya, where the house church pastor gave him refuge and accommodation. Aung’s son remained at home with his auntie.
For the next two months the boy suffered—mocked by his school mates because of the shame of his parents. Aung went back to the village to check on his son and tend his garden. He slept in his old house for two nights before his presence was discovered.
The village leader offered a solution. Aung could come home and tend his garden, but he had to promise not to practice anything outside of Buddhism, or attend church. He was told to never bring another Christian into the village. Reluctantly Aung signed the agreement.
Several months later when the Pindaya house church held evangelism training, the teachers asked to visit Aung’s home and pray for the village. That night, five villagers stoned Aung’s house, smashing the roof and windows. They removed the furniture and burned everything to the ground.
Aung and Phyu were left without a home, work or income. The couple have found temporary shelter in a nearby town. Their pastor shared that two other families in his congregation have faced similar problems when they converted from Buddhism to Christianity; the monks threw them out. “Officially, the central authorities make a phone call and say, ‘let them worship freely,’ but the villagers don’t cooperate.”
Aung and Phyu’s son has felt the persecution, observed his parents’ response, and is now a follower of Jesus. He prays that he can one day attend Bible school and become a worship leader or pastor.
Please pray for Aung, his family and the increasing number of Christians displaced through Buddhist extremism.”