By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) - At least hundreds of people have turned to faith in Christ since Myanmar’s military staged a coup and ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, an advocacy group said Thursday.
Open Doors USA noted that Christianity is growing in the mainly Buddhist nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma, despite a military crackdown on believers.
“In the last six weeks, the [violent] situation has intensified. And believers are fleeing into the jungle,” the group said.
In a statement obtained by Worthy News, an Open Doors local partner, only named as Brother Lwin for security reasons, expressed concern about the violence. “Wherever the military goes, they burn the houses, kill the pigs [which many families rely on for income], and occupy churches.”
Yet, against “a backdrop of strife and violence, God is working mightily,” Lwin stressed. This year, more than 500 people “have given their lives to Jesus in Myanmar,” according to Open Doors USA and local Christians.
“Even in the helplessness, God is still bringing people unto Himself,” Lwin added. Open Doors USA also claimed that thanks to donations, it provided “emergency aid” to 17,135 believers since September this year.
In addition to offering “practical assistance,” Open Doors said it worked with area churches to provide “discipleship training” to future church leaders.
God is advancing “His Kingdom and raise the future leaders of His Church in the world's most dangerous places for our sisters and brothers,” stressed Lindy Lowry, a managing editor of Open Doors USA, which monitors reported persecution.
Myanmar ranks 18th on the Open Doors’ annual World Watch List of the 50 nations where it claims Christians face most persecution.
The group said believers in Myanmar’s Christian states of Kachin, Karen, and Shan face most dangers. “Believers are vulnerable to persecution by insurgent groups and the army.”
The COVID-19 pandemic added to challenges, as many Christians are deliberately overlooked in the distribution of government aid, according to Christian aid workers.
“Buddhist nationalism is especially strong in Myanmar and drives much of the persecution of Christians,” said Open Doors in a recent assessment.
“Converts to the Christian faith face persecution from their families and communities for leaving, or ‘betraying,’ the system of belief they grew up in,” the group stressed.
“Communities who aim to stay ‘Buddhist only’ make a life for Christian families impossible by not allowing them to use community resources such as water.”
Non-traditional church groups experience opposition too, especially those located in rural areas or are known for evangelistic activity, Worthy News monitored.
More than 4 million of Myanmar’s 57 million people are Christian, according to Christian rights groups estimates.