Arrested, beaten, evicted – stories of the conversion of former Buddhists in Myanmar

There are approximately 758,000 internally displaced people in Myanmar. In addition to the civil war, the reason for the wave of refugees is the persecution of Christians.
How does a Buddhist feel when his friends and relatives start believing in a foreign god? In his eyes, converting to Christianity is tantamount to betraying one’s religion, nation and identity.

U Aoh* and his family lived in a tribal village where Buddhism and Animism are religion, tradition and lifestyle. When U Aoh*, his family and several other villagers heard the good news about Jesus from a Christian neighbor, it changed their lives. They chose to follow Jesus, even though that decision came at a price.

As word of the new converts spread, the ardent Buddhists of the village gathered together with their relatives to protest against them. They wanted to kick them out of the village. After that, U Aoh* and other new believers began to gather secretly to serve God together.

There was no room for Christians in a Buddhist tribal village

However, the villagers did not leave the matter alone and demanded that U Aoh* and his religious friends move out of the village because they were no longer the same. U Aoh* and other believers asked for the opportunity to stay close to the village so they could get to their farms. However, the villagers definitely wanted to drive these Christians out of their village and out of their lives.

Next, the villagers reported U Aoh* and his co-religionists to a local militant group, who arrested, tied up and beat U Aoh*. The very next day he and all the other Christians left the village. It was clear that they had no business in this village anymore. They were not allowed to take anything from their homes, not even spare clothes. They fled and settled in an area where other believers, who had also been driven from their homes, had sought refuge.

U Aoh* became the leader of the believers. He currently leads more than twenty families with a Buddhist background. When Win Tin* and Open Doors’ local partners visited U Aoh* and met their families, they listened to their stories and prayed with them. They also took essential food together.

Ko Miang*, a local partner of Open Doors, recalls: “The believers were so happy and satisfied that their smiles made me smile too. I went there to encourage them, but they actually encouraged me more.”

A Christian youth was not considered decent

Around the same time, Moe*, Mimi* and their daughter Wor* lived in a Buddhist community in southern Myanmar. They too met Jesus and accepted Him as their Savior. As soon as news of their conversion spread and became known to villagers, religious leaders and local authorities, the family became the target of anger and accusations. After that, it was difficult for Moe* and his family to continue living in the village, but they were persistent and wanted to stay in the shelter provided by the community.

The life of the family’s daughter, Wor*, was especially difficult. The village boys abused and raped her for over a year because, as a Christian, she was not considered decent. Wor* was silent about her sufferings because she did not dare to talk about them.

Finally Wor* couldn’t take it anymore and reluctantly told her mother Mimi* everything. Mimi* told her husband about their daughter’s suffering and the parents understood her daughter’s pain. Now they had no other option: they had to leave their home village.

Moe* and his family settled in a camp for forcibly displaced refugees. Wor* is currently seeing a Christian therapist for trauma therapy. She also needs your prayers for healing and recovery.

* names changed for security reasons.

Source: Pidätetty, hakattu, häädetty – Myanmarin ex-buddhalaisten kertomuksia kääntymyksestä | Open Doors Finland