The stunning success of Christian outreach among some ethnic minorities in Asia has fueled religious resentment and repression.
In Myanmar, also known as Burma, the country's xenophobic military junta has strangled mission work, forcing church groups to congregate in neighboring Thailand.
But the repression has not stopped church leaders from speaking out for religious freedom. Burma Issues, based in Bangkok, has quietly and effectively supported grassroots work for peace inside Myanmar since 1988.
"The church has to play the prophetic role: Speaking out against that which is wrong," asserts Burma Issues cofounder Max Ediger, an American Mennonite. "I don't think the church should worry that it's a small minority. It was a small minority in the New Testament. And if it means the church suffers, so be it."
Myanmar, with a population of 46 million, has one of the world's largest concentrations of Buddhists. The country has an estimated 1 million pagodas, or Buddhist temples. Christians make up only about 6 percent of the population but are growing at an annual rate of 5 percent.
In March, Christians Concerned for Burma, based in the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai, organized the first Global Day of Prayer for Burma. Prayer services were held in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and on the Internet.
"We were overjoyed with the response," a spokesperson says. "Civil war has been raging for over 40 years. What will be said about Christians when people remember this period of Burma's history?"
Christian ministry has been most successful among ethnic minorities. During the nation's period of British colonial rule, from 1886 to 1942, Christian outreach took place mostly among three ethnic groups: the Karen, the Kachin, and the ...1
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