|Christianity in Myanmar
- Christianity first reached Myanmar in 1500, but evangelization
properly began in 1722 when the Roman Catholics entrusted the region to
the Barnabites. However spreading the gospel turned out to be difficult
since most Burmese were already devoted Buddhists.
- In 1548 St. Francis Xavier petitioned Father Rodriguez for
missionaries to go to Pegu. 1722, Vatican sent Father Sigismond de Calchi
a Barnabite, and Father Vittoni, to Burma.
- 1613, A Portuguese called Debrito settled in Burma. Later defeated by
Burmese King and his followers [Mostly Roman Catholic] were relocated at
central of Burma. Many Roman Catholic [Portuguese descanted] are still
living at villages in central of Myanmar.
- Official Christian Mission arrived Syrian [now Thanlwin] in 1689 from
Paris. After 1721, many Roman Catholic missionary schools appeared. In
1807, British Baptist Mission arrived and protestant Christian Churches
settled in Myanmar..
- Dr Mark (Saya Hmat 1832-1915) Society for
the Propagation of the Gospel arrived Myanmar in 1859 for missionary
school @ Moulmein. He served Burmese Kings , Min Don and ThiPaw.
School of Lanmadaw No.1 [formerly St. John] was established by Saya
Hmat. His charisma made him famous among Burmese royal family and
British government as well as in public.
- In the early 19th century the American Baptist missionary, Adoniram
Judson (1788-1850), laid the foundations of the Protestant church in
Myanmar which were soon followed by France and Italy. They were more
successful in converting the minority ethnic groups rather than mainstream
Burmese society. Since then Christianity has been deeply rooted in Myanmar
and has grow stronger during tribulation. Judson translated Bible from
Hebrew to Burmese. He wrote many Burmese book and Judson Dictionary was
completed by E.A Steven.
- Pentecostal missionaries reached Myanmar in the late 1910s in which
whole tribes believed in the Lord and gave up idol worshipping. The
Charismatic movement still plays a vital role in Myanmar today.
- The First and Second World War brought upheaval which affected both
the people and the missionaries.
- In 1965, a coup made by Ne Win formed a Communist government so
Catholic mission schools and hospitals were nationalized. Foreign
missionaries were expelled and only a few were allowed to return since
that time - and so began a period of isolation for Myanmar and the local
- In 1961 Buddhism was declared the official religion and treason was
charged to anyone who converted to another religion and by 1966 all
missionaries were expelled from the country.
- Despite isolation and financial needs, the Burmese church had become a
strong missionary body. Baptists, Assemblies of God, Methodists and
Anglicans form the strongest denominations in the country today.
- Many Burmese Christians are well educated and therefore are in
respected positions all over the country. Most of them are from the
minority ethnic groups such as Karen, Lisu, Kachin, Lahu. Very few of the
35,000,000 Burmese are believers (only 5% of total population). Ethnic and
denominational ties are very strong.
- Myanmar Baptist Convention is an association of Baptist churches which
operates the Myanmar Institute of Theology, founded in 1927.
- The Bible Ministry in Myanmar was started in 1889. The revision of the
first Burmese Bible as well as the new translation in other languages was
carried out to meet the needs of the growing Christian population.
National Bible Society was formed in 1964, known as the Bible Society of
Myanmar (BSM). The United Bible Society has 137 members, of which one is
the Bible Society of Myanmar.
Protestants in Myanmar are mostly Baptist and make up around 3% of a
population of 43 millions, numbering over 1.29 millions people overall.
Many Baptist churches in the country are affiliated to the Myanmar Baptist
Convention. In Myanmar, the Assemblies of God of Myanmar is the largest
Pentecostal church. However, there have been several allegations of
persecution of Christians in the country, which is seen as wider
evidence of state repression
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar CBCM, Burmese Catholic
does not have diplomatic relations with the Vatican but communicate
to Vatican through the Bangkok office. Estimated ~1% of Myanmar is
1. Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia
3. Burmese Encyclopedia Vol
10 p.422 Saya Hmat, Vol 2 p.279 Christianity, Vol 5 p.271
To the Golden Shore The Life of Adoniram
6. Bible Society of Myanmar (BSM)