Christians Get Encouragement in Myanmar

( [email protected] ) May 18, 2004 11:59 AM EDT

Myanmar has no constitution or laws to protect freedom of religion. The government imposes restrictions on certain religious activities and often violates the right to religious freedom.

The country ranks in the top ten on Open Doors' World Watch List. The annual list ranks countries according to the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith.

In this mainly Buddhist country, Christians face discrimination and restriction of education, evangelism and church construction activities. The Government is opposed to the spread of Christianity.

Thousands of young Christians are unemployed because of their faith and are pressured to convert to Buddhism. Several Christian churches and homes were burned during 2003.

Evangelical Baptist Mission's David Hague says, in spite of the backdrop, people respond to the Gospel. "There is a high degree of persecution and a high stress level placed upon the people living in the country. They've been at war consistently since about 1942. In 1990, the military dictatorship has been in power and the persecution has been, at some times, intense."

EBM teams formalized an alliance in April to train the existing church. "The goal of the partnership is to evangelize those of the leading tribe, and to establish churches among those that are evangelized. Over the past 15 years or so, they've established an indigenous Bible college. It's called the "Hanson Baptist Bible College".

The College is also growing. School officials say in the middle of the school year, they are requiring 34 seniors to go for an additional internship before graduating. This even passed approval from the churches. They will soon go out for practical testing of their ministry skills before they can receive a diploma next year.

The school is raising money to help build a Training Center for China Mission near the China border. This will be a Branch or Extension of HBBC. It will be a three months school to prepare workers for China and nearby areas of Myanmar and also help prepare some for entrance into the college.