Sep 10: Myanmar

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Union of Myanmar


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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%

Capital: Naypyidaw

Urbanites: 33.9%

HDI Rank: 138 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)


Peoples: 142 (36% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: Burmese    Languages: 116 All languages


Largest Religion: Buddhist

Religion               Pop %Ann Gr


Challenges for Prayer

The Church faces many challenges in Myanmar. Pray about these issues:

a) Limitations on the freedom to function as the Church, since many restrictions exist. Authorities generally disallow new church buildings from being constructed. The importation of Christian literature is severely limited. In many cases Christians are pressured or forced to convert to Buddhism.

b) Nominalism and revival are simultaneous dynamics. Several generations after the arrival of Christianity through Adoniram Judson and others, it is to some more a tradition with irrelevant forms than a living faith. In some circles, Western humanism erodes the Bible’s authority. But at the same time, many mainline and traditional denominations find themselves in the midst of revival and renewal, which is happening across previously entrenched denominational lines.

c) Most Christians are from minority groups that are embroiled in military actions against the central government. Pray that this may not cause bitterness, hatred of other peoples, compromise of their faith or blunting of a missions vision. Isolation, poverty and lack of training hamper the ability of these groups to be a witness, but this is changing.

d) Reconciliation and unity among Christians is a crucial issue. There were many causes of division – ethnic, political, passivism or military activism, and doctrinal. Strong centralized control under one authoritarian church/denominational leader along with parochialism kept Christians apart and growth limited. Pray for:

     i The forces of spiritual unity. The burgeoning prayer movement, those impacted by renewal and the emerging generation of leaders are joining to stand as one.

     ii The organizational bodies fostering fellowship. Pray that the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC), the Myanmar Evangelical Christian Fellowship (MECF) and the Myanmar Biblical Christian Fellowship (MBCF) may effectively promote Christian unity.

     iii Cultural leadership patterns combining with imported sectarianism from abroad. The need to start one’s own denomination, the foreign money available for ministry and the sectarian principles imbued upon nationals who studied abroad is a dangerous cocktail. Pray for wisdom for national leaders in learning to deal with these challenges.

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 don’t 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.

     For an additional 10 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

More Information

The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Myanmar.