Christians Facing Persecution in Burma for Turning to Christ, 'Angering Buddhist Spirits'

A Christian couple from Burma, who were previously Buddhists but have since turned to Christ, have reportedly been targeted by relatives who want to kick them out of their home for their Christian faith, and who believe that Christians are "angering spirits" associated with Buddhism.

The couple, whose names were not given in the report by Christian Aid Mission, which assists indigenous ministries overseas, are said to have found Christ during a work stay in Thailand. But when they returned back home to their village in Burma, their relatives denied them the use of property they had bought.

Although the couple, who have two children, were finally given a small piece of land where they can live on a temporary basis, they are being denied the practice of their faith.

"Moreover, they were strictly prohibited not to receive any Christian pastor or guests at their home, and not to have worship services at their home," an indigenous missionary revealed.

The relatives are reportedly monitoring the couple closely, and are threatening to kick them out if they receive any Christian missionaries.

Burma, officially called the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, has only a minority Christian community, who make up between 5 to 9 percent of the country's population. Buddhism, which claims between 80 to 90 percent of the population, has been fused in the country with occult and spiritual beliefs that pre-date the religion.

As CAM's report explained, the typical home consists of a shrine to Buddha, with people performing rituals that they believe imbue the Buddha statue with sacred qualities that protect the home.

"Mixed into the attribution of powers to Buddha is worship of spirits — including 37 'great spirits,' most of whom were humans who died violently, along with the rest of the more common spirits associated with trees, water, mountains and other aspects of nature," the report noted.

"Worship of these spirits predates Buddhism in Burma, but the beliefs and rituals merged with Buddhism as the religion gained prominence in the country. Professing allegiance to Christ alone is seen as angering the very spirits both villagers and urban dwellers hope to placate," it added.

Christians face severe persecution in Burma, as watchdog groups such as Open Doors USA have pointed out. The nation was ranked 23rd on Open Doors' World Watch List of places that are most hostile to followers of Christ for their faith, with believers regularly prevented from practicing their religion.

Groups such as the Ma Ba Tha, an organization of radical Buddhist monks, have reportedly helped introduce "Protection of Race and Religion" laws, which are said to build "insurmountable hurdles for conversions and religiously mixed marriages."

Major evangelists, such as the Rev. Franklin Graham, have successfully attracted massive crowds at events in the country, however, with the three-night Yangon Love Joy Peace Festival in November, where Graham preached, reportedly bringing over 7,000 people to Christ.

Missionaries who are helping the Christian couple in the village in Burma say they are committed to sharing the Gospel and encouraging others to come to Christ despite the difficulties they face.

"These believers are not dismayed and dispirited even though they are in many troubles, but they are still strong in their faith, trusting God that we will get a small amount of land soon for worship at a village and evangelize all the villagers," the missionary revealed.

"They do not even want to move anywhere. We have a big dream and prayer that we will get permission and land for worship services at this very village to proclaim the Gospel of Christ for the extension of the Kingdom of God."