In North America we live in an environment that has traditionally been among a majority of “Christians.” Even though we may now be recognizing certain coming limitations on our freedoms to live and speak as Christians, we still have major freedoms — for instance the right and privilege to gather openly in public to worship. Not everyone in the world enjoys that freedom.
White Fields is supporting pastors in places where the restrictions on religious freedom are severe. Some face rules and restrictions from their government. In other places the pastors and their families face the danger of persecution by individuals or groups who vehemently oppose Jesus Christ.
In Myanmar (formerly called Burma) some of our pastors are facing heated persecution and resistance from the local village and Buddhist leadership — like this testimony:
“In the beginning of May, I appointed an evangelist to work in a certain village where there is no existing church. All the people in this village are Buddhist. Sadly, the chief of the village and the people were very angry and they did not want any Christian teacher or evangelist to evangelize their village. So they chased him out. I sent him to another village and the chief allowed him to stay for six months! Praise God for answering our prayers for this!” (Pastor Ngun)
These evangelists are not afraid to bring the gospel to their people — even into dangerous places. They also attribute the success in the other village, even after failing to gain access in one place — to your prayers! God can open the door of the heart of people to hear the gospel. These pastors continue to preach the gospel — just like during the book of Acts. Even when the disciples were persecuted in one place they moved to another place: “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4 ESV)
In Myanmar there is also a new development in the government. They are considering a new law: The Religious Conversion Bill. This bill was introduced in May by some zealous Buddhist Monks that want the government to make it illegal for a Buddhist to convert to another religion without the permission of a Buddhist Board delegated by the government. Although they say this bill is to protect people from being forced to convert to Islam (A frequent occurrence when Muslim men marry Buddhist women), the bill also makes it a crime to “proselytize.” The bill would provide a one or two year prison sentence to anyone leading a person to convert from Buddhism (The Majority religion in Myanmar) to any other religion including the voluntary conversion to Christianity.
You can read a news article about the bill here: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/10811-interfaith-marriage-push-met-with-opposition.html
Our pastors will not quit because of the opposition. They will even be strengthened in their commitment and motivation to reach their countrymen with the gospel. Your prayers can help! Please pray for God to provide wisdom and strength.
During the days of Acts, Peter and John were detained by the high Priests and commanded not to speak any longer in the name of Jesus. The response of the apostles was that they must obey God. “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.” (Acts 4:18-21 ESV)
We are praying that our brothers and sisters in Myanmar will retain the current freedom to bring people to their house and share the gospel. But, if the law denies that privilege, then we are praying for their strength and wisdom to serve God first and not man. The gospel is the priority. You have the ability to stand with our pastors in prayer.
LISTEN TO PASTOR NGUN’S STORY:
KPRZ — Salem Communication Radio Spot
God is Able
I never cease to be amazed at what God can do. In the days during the Acts of the Apostles, God used persecution to scatter and spread the influence of the church. What the authorities thought would be a persecution to stop the spread, God reversed the intended actions and caused the persecution to spread the gospel even further: “The Church in Antioch Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:19-21 ESV)
God is so able to bring good out of what man means to be harm that one of the main persecutors of the church became one of the greatest evangelist — Saul converted to become Paul the Apostle.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. (Acts 9:1-5 ESV) But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:13-16 ESV)
God is still moving among men like this today: “From May 29 to 31, an evangelist came from the city. He is a very gifted preacher, especially among Buddhist people because he was converted to Christ from Buddhism. The people were interested in hearing about salvation. I also met several people through my outreach ministry. U Oo is interested in knowing more about Jesus. Pray he will continue to study about Jesus and the way of salvation.” (Pastor Tam)