Myanmar is surrounded by India, China and Thailand. It is very diverse ethnically, with eight major national races, 135 sub-groups and tribes, and many more smaller tribes and language groups. Even though the land is richly blessed with teak forests, fertile soil, precious gems and minerals and offshore oil, most people live in poverty surviving on less than $1 day. It is largely a Buddhist country, with the church having great suffering and repression. Even so, there is growth in the church and openness of the Monks to learn about Jesus. However, Buddhism incorporates a lot of superstition and their devotion is strong in a culture that is against leaving Buddhism. Pray that the Christians will be able to understand the Buddhist mindset and minister to the people to show them true freedom and God’s love.
Bhutan is a small kingdom in the eastern Himalaya Mountains above India. The state religion is Buddhism. Other religions are barely tolerated. Proselytism is illegal, church buildings are not allowed, and Christians do not receive state benefits available to Buddhist, such as free education. It is one of the least evangelized nations. The New Testament has been translated into Dzongha, the national language, but the majority of indigenous languages have no Bible Scriptures. There is shortwave radio as media, but that is about it. The Jesus film is used around Bhutan and available in five languages.
There is hope, and we have the promise from God that the whole world will be made known about His Son, Jesus. Everyone will have an opportunity. We may not always know the mystery of how God works in this area, but we have the promise that He will. God is fair in his judgement, God is love, and God is grace.
Before leaving on my trip to Bangkok, Thailand, I asked God to show me His people while I was there (“I have many people in this city”). Bangkok is a Buddhist city of 8.5 million people and less than 1% are Christian. A couple of days into my trip, I wandered into this shop. I had found the 1%.
I asked the young Thai girl in the shop about the Jesus picture hanging on the top shelf. With very broken English, she told me she was Christian. Wanting to know more, I asked her if she attended the Catholic church I saw down the street. She said no, she was Christian (probably indicating Protestant) and she gave the name of her church but I couldn’t understand. There are a total of 2 Protestant churches and 4 Catholic churches in all of Bangkok. I asked her if I could take a picture of the Jesus picture in her shop, but she misunderstood and thought I wanted to take the actual picture. She offered to take me in a taxi to a Christian shop where I could buy one. Finally she understood that I did not want to take the actual picture, and then she offered me a smaller one that she had stapled in her notebook. I told her thank you, but no, I wanted her to keep that one. She told me “God bless you” as I left the shop, and I was very humbled by her generosity and eagerness.
The first Christian church in Bangkok was founded by Portuguese missionaries in the 1780’s and was provided through a land grant from the Thai King. I wonder what made the King give the land to a group of people who probably seemed very strange to their customs. For the thousands of years prior to that, Thailand had only known Buddhism.
I thank God for that beautiful young Thai girl who proudly said, “I am Christian,” with a smile on her face. It made me realize just how important our missionaries are to the world. They bring beauty and smiles and hope, in the name of Jesus Christ.
“I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” – Jesus (John 8:12)