Between ethnic rebels trying to recruit them as soldiers and evil spirits threatening to afflict them, young adults in Burma (Myanmar) have a lot to fear.
Most young tribal men in remote areas of the country grow up as animists – trying to appease gods and spirits said to take the form of trees, rocks and other objects in nature – and even those who belong to the majority-Buddhist population retain much of the animistic beliefs of their ancestors.
Besides fearing that any illness may be a sign of punishment from a malevolent spirit world, young men in an area of Burma undisclosed for security reasons also live in fear of militants from insurgent groups that are drawing recruits from ethnic groups, the leader of a native ministry said.
“There are around three rebel groups, and those rebels always search for young people to be their soldiers,” he said. “So they are frightened all the time, as they don’t know when rebels will come to their village and take them from their family and from their village.”
“They are frightened all the time, as they don’t know when rebels will come to their village and take them from their family and from their village.”
Fighting between the rebels and government forces has reportedly displaced nearly 33,000 people since late 2018.
Humanitarian officials with the United Nations say inability to get aid into places of conflict has cost lives, but native missionaries bringing the gospel into remote areas are bringing such relief. They recently relocated 20 young people from a remote area where warfare was raging to a shelter where they are receiving food and education, the ministry leader said.
“Our main object is to lead them to Christ and help them to reach their own people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the near future when they are mature,” he said. “These young people are from five villages that are completely animist. They cultivate on the hillsides, but whatever they have, they sacrifice to evil spirits.”
As a result, he said, they are very poor.
Evangelists in area villages found their biggest challenge was how to alleviate the young people’s fear.
“So, we made some bamboo huts in our rented house and put some of the young people from these villages into them,” the leader said. “We provide simple food, and we help them to go to school. Most importantly, we teach them about the Gospel, and now almost all of them have been saved, and they are so happy for their salvation.”
Workers have thus brought both physical and emotional healing to them through Christ, he said.
“Furthermore, their parents have peace in their hearts and their burdens have been relieved,” he added.
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SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission