Burma (Myanmar) is ranked at number 23 according to the World Watch Monitor’s list of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. It is recognised as having very high levels of persecution.
The Burmese government claims to support freedom of religion, but it has since banned all independent house church activities from 2010. Religious groups face surveillance, imprisonment, discrimination, violence, destruction of property and censorship of religious materials. To read more about Burma, click here
There are many obstacles being a Christian in Burma, so there is a strong need for future generations of pastors to lead the church to remain faithful despite persecution. Thirteen Three sponsors Bible college students in Burma in order to see the Gospel spread in this difficult country and to help train future generations of pastors and leaders.
Meet 13:3’s sponsored Student: Elizabeth
Elizabeth is a fourth year Bible college student. She is one of the next generation of leaders being trained to serve in Burma. We asked Elizabeth a few questions about her student life.
How did you become a Christian?
I became a Christian through the teaching of my mother. I believe on His finished work for me, and accepted Him as my Saviour. As John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
What would you like to do after college?
I want to serve the Lord in children’s, women’s and youth ministries after college. I am not sure exactly what the Lord would have me do. I am praying for His direction.
Have you had any recent outreach opportunities?
I had opportunity to go on a short mission trip in December with two college girls. We gave out Gospel tracts on streets and shared the Gospel with children and adults. We were able to reach more than 90 people with the Gospel. Among them, one person clearly professed faith in Christ. It was such a blessing to be there and serve God.
How can we pray for you?
Pray for wisdom in making the right decisions.
Thank you so much for supporting me, and I want to say, “May God bless Voice of the Martyrs’ ministry and all the staff!”
The next generation of pastors and leaders in Burma are willing to serve God in areas where they could be mocked, ridiculed, beaten, arrested and even martyred. Often what is hindering them is the need for financial assistance for their training. Will you partner with them in the spread of the Gospel in restricted areas by investing in the next generation of pastors and leaders like Elizabeth?
Sponsor a Student
I have the privilege of helping connect believers with their persecuted family. In my conversations with believers, I have seen some common misconceptions about persecuted Christians.
- They are Super Hero Christians
This is probably the most common misconception. When we hear powerful testimonies of believers standing with boldness in unthinkable circumstances it’s easy to put them on a pedestal and think they are ‘super Christians.’ The way I hear some people talk about persecuted Christians is almost as though they think something magical happens when you are persecuted and you immediately become an angelic saint, untouched by the worst suffering. This is simply not the case.
The danger with this mindset is that it can be used as an excuse to slack off in our own dedication to Christ. I’ve heard, “Oh well, don’t worry, when the time comes, God will give you to strength to get through anything!” True, there is a special grace in suffering, but that does not negate the fact that we must chose to count the cost to follow Christ and take up our cross and deny ourselves daily. The believers who stand strong in the face of persecution made these decisions about Christ beforehand. You can choose now to build your house on the rock or on the sand.
- They are a Case Study
While I was representing VOM at an event recently, I was sharing about our persecuted family with an individual who immediately launched into a full rant about how the United States was going down the drain and that the American church was weak and liberal. I’ve seen people use persecuted Christians as a platform to be critical and judgmental. In addition, they can use them to guilt trip others: “How can you complain about your car accident when people are dying for their faith overseas?”
Granted, we absolutely can learn from our persecuted family and be inspired and encouraged in our faith. Viewing persecuted Christians as a case study should never trump who they are first and foremost: our family. They are fellow members of the body of Christ. If your mother was dying of cancer, you wouldn’t go around criticising others who have it easy or feel guilty that you don’t have cancer too. No, you would first use what you have – your health, your love, your prayers, your resources – to be family to your mother. That is what we are called to do with persecuted believers.
- They Always Heal Quickly from Traumatic Experiences
This goes back to misconception number one. Our persecuted family are human. They are real people with emotions, hopes, dreams, doubts and weaknesses just like you. Occasionally we meet believers who miraculously are able to instantly forgive and find consistent joy in their lives again. But more often than not, our persecuted family walks through a process of healing. I remember sitting across from a sister in Malaysia who wept as she shared with me how her Muslim parents had thrown her out of her home for being a Christian when she was twelve years old. She was telling me the story 15 years after it happened, and yet she still must choose daily to forgive her parents for things they did to her. VOM is committed to meeting spiritual and practical needs of persecuted Christians and sticking with them on their journey.
Brooke Parks works for VOM USA as Director of Voice Ministries.