Area: 676,577 sq km
Basin and delta of the Irrawaddy River ringed by a horseshoe of high mountains that isolates the country from India, China and Thailand.
Population: 50,495,672 Annual Growth: 0.87%
Official language: Burmese Languages: 116 All languages
Largest Religion: Buddhist
|Religion||Pop %||Ann Gr|
Theological education is of vital importance; this is reflected by the rapid multiplication of training institutes in the last 10 years from 90 in 2000 to over 200 in 2009. Many are very small, with scant resources or materials and poorly trained instructors. Women account for nearly 50% of the students. The threat of liberal theology existing in the previous generation has profoundly reversed in most cases, but is still present in a few mainline denominations. Pray specifically for:
a) The more notable institutions, including the Myanmar Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (MEGST) and the Association for Theological Education in Myanmar (ATEM, tied to MCC). A new consortium for undergraduate establishments has great potential but is still in developmental stages.
b) Training and mission mobilizing in short, intensive courses. These are proving effective for bivocational workers and lay Christians.
c) The right balance of biblical truth, evangelism training and strong missiological preparation for interacting with and ministering to the Buddhist worldview, which is so different from Christianity. One methodology developed by a former Buddhist monk is seeing remarkable response.
d) The retention of leaders. Far too many attend seminary in order to learn English, seen as a ticket out of the country. Others study abroad but dont return to the challenging life of ministering in Myanmar. Praise God for the establishment of Masters degree programmes at MEGST which enable aspiring ministry leaders to get equipped and remain in Myanmar.
e) Theological Education by Extension (TEE) is an essential tool for multiplying trained leaders for the fast-growing Church. This concept is working well in both traditional churches and in the Buddhist-background believers movement.
Buddhism is strongly entrenched among the Burmese majority as well as the Shan, the Rakhine and the Mon, and has deep influence among more animistic peoples. Burmese Buddhism incorporates much pre-Buddhist spiritism, occult beliefs, astrology and superstition, and devotion is strong. Most children are educated in monasteries, so the influence of Buddhist thought is pervasive. The Church must learn to understand and address the Buddhist mindset as well as minister in spiritual power if it is to see a harvest among this majority. But positive signs are there including a growing openness to Jesus, especially among the 700,000 monks. Many study the gospel and listen to Christian radio. Reportedly, thousands have quietly become believers; no doubt many more would also believe were there not such powerful cultural, social and spiritual constraints against leaving Buddhism. The government crackdown against the monks political demonstration reduced their influence to a degree.
For an additional 10 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Myanmar.