The Burma military government’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators has raised alarms among world powers in recent days, but that’s only one of the head-to-head clashes occurring in the Asian nation, according to Voice of the Martyrs, the worldwide ministry to persecuted Christians.
The second war being waged is the crackdown on Buddhists who renounce their old gods in favor of Christianity.
“Please pray for me,” begs a 65-year-old man in message to VOM, “as I have been forced to leave my village, my wife and my two children who I love dearly.
“I pray that I may soon be able to return back to them. I love them but I cannot do what they have asked me to do – curse my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, come back to Buddha and my family.”
The testimony, VOM said, is representative from individuals who come to Christianity in Burma.
This man tells of his faithfulness to Buddhism over his lifetime. Then, he said, “One day we were sitting at the temple entrance receiving collections from the people, one of the Christians passing by gave me a tract.”
He said he kept it, and took him home and read it.
“When I read this tract it spoke of receiving the gift of eternal life when believing Jesus Christ. I started to question and wonder, ‘How can we know eternal life? What is this eternal life the tract spoke of?'”
He asked his family, and, “They simply joked about it, saying, ‘Father you are a good man, you will surely be a rich man in your next life.’ But the thought would not leave me, I felt it deeply as I was growing older. When I die, will there be a place that I go to? So I kept thinking about this over and over in my heart and mind, until finally at midnight I called on Jesus, ‘Lord Jesus I believe, please give me eternal life.’ The Lord Jesus heard my prayer and answered my call.
“Then the light shone into my soul, light in my heart which was great joy. Simply stated, I am at peace, a real peace in my heart which I had never experienced before, which is difficult to put into words,” he told Voice of the Martyrs.
He said he had been worshipping his Buddha statue every day. “Early the next morning I knew in my heart that I must throw out the image of Buddha … Without speaking to my wife, I took the image and threw it into a small river near my village,” he said. “When my wife woke up and was preparing an offering to the image of Buddha, it was gone! She was very upset asking, ‘What is happening here? Where are the gods?’ I told her I had thrown them away.”
She got angry, then called the authorities.
“They came to my home – policemen, firemen, the local security forces, in all about 25 people. All asking at once what had happened. I told them that I had found the True and Living God, Who loved me and had given me eternal life,” he said. “They proceeded to tell me I was not worthy to live. Then I was imprisoned for five days when they tried to convince me to give up this foolish belief and convert back to Buddhism. Thank God, the Lord Jesus gave me strength to face and overcome these trials.”
But he said he was ejected from his home, and his town, and he hopes to be allowed to return at some point.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on my family and my fellow-villagers,” he said.
Burma has been one of the least accessible nations in the world over its history. A government website notes “for the majority of the population, Buddhism is the center of individual life and the monastery is the center of the community.”
It recent days, however, the nation has been the focal point of international attention because of pro-democracy protests staged by villagers, and the military government’s response.
The United Nations has made plans for an emergency session on human rights abuses after soldiers clubbed activists in the streets and occupied monasteries. Government officials said 10 people have been killed, while activist groups estimate fatalities at 20 times than number.
Even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes Burma as a member, issued a statement that it was “appalled” by the violent clashes.
VOM is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.
It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.
He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body.
The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, “Tortured for Christ,” was released.
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