In May 1978 the Burmese government published 10,000 Bibles. Christians there are grateful for this gesture and interpret it as a token of religious freedom. Further, the Burmese government permitted U Aung Khin, General Secretary of the Burma Christian Council, to attend an ecumenical conference in Singapore last November. This lifting of a fifteen-year travel ban raises everybody’s hopes that soon more Burmese Christians, isolated from fellow believers for so long, will be able to taste again the joys of the international Christian fellowship.

Although a few Roman Catholic missionaries visited Burma from the seventeenth century onwards, it was through the devoted labors of Adoniram Judson (1788–1850) that the Christian faith took root in Burmese soil. A graduate of Brown University and Andover Seminary, Judson reached Rangoon in 1813. Soon after his arrival, he wrote in his journal that he and his wife Ann partook of the Lord’s Supper together, just the two of them, believing “the command as binding and the privilege as great as if there were more.” Although Judson was a gifted linguist and worked long hours every day at language study, it was six years before he felt able to preach in Burmese. Meanwhile, he had been witnessing to individuals. His son Edward in the Life (1883) describes the resistance that he encountered to the Gospel of salvation, since Buddhism teaches that “there is no God to save, no soul to be saved, and no sin to be saved from.”

On 27 June 1819, however, a thirty-five-year-old man named Moung Nau was the first Burmese convert to be baptized. “O may it prove the beginning,” Judson wrote “of a series of baptisms in the Burman Empire which shall ...

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