We are the Shan!
Nuu held up a large picture of the Buddha in front of Seng Wan, and said firmly, ‘We are Shan, this is what we believe!’ Her friend had just returned from a Christian conference and was showing too much interest in Christianity for Nuu’s liking. Nuu was Shan and as far as she was concerned, the Shan were Buddhist.
Although Seng Wan was frightened by Nuu’s reaction, God was at work. Only two months later, Nuu attended a Christmas service at her local church. She enjoyed the service and eventually joined a discipleship group.
It never ceases to amaze me that those who oppose Christianity the most strongly are often the very ones who end up becoming Christians. So it was with Nuu! She finally accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and at the annual Shan Believers’ Conference Nuu spoke of how he had come to live in her heart. Her son Bii also made a commitment.
Soon Nuu herself started to experience opposition. Her husband, Luu, burned all her Christian literature, along with her Bible. One day, during our discipleship group meeting, he burst in with a shotgun. He forced Nuu out of the room and, wielding the gun, and began beating her across the shoulders as she stumbled down the stairs. Though we were all frightened, we kept calm and prayed. After this, Luu forbade Nuu from having any contact with us.
Two weeks later Luu came down with all the symptoms of cerebral malaria. He had a high fever and was shaking. His half-brother Lee, the church leader, asked if he could borrow my motorbike to take Luu to the health centre, but it was raining so heavily I offered to take him by car. We set out, and I prayed that the Lord would be merciful to Luu and show him his love.
At the health center, Luu tested negative for malaria and, beginning to feel better, he apologized for wasting my time. ‘You didn’t waste my time,’ I told him. ‘God answered my prayer.’
Later we heard that Luu was attributing his recovery to my prayer, and his attitude began to change. He let Nuu attend meetings again. Then, only three weeks after he had burst in to our meeting with a gun, he turned up with his wife and son to study the Bible. The next day he went along to the baptism of seven new believers. How long will it be before Luu too surrenders his life to Jesus?
Today, Seng Wan still remains somewhat shaky in her faith. But Nuu, the firebrand who once bore a large picture of the Buddha, has a new message, ‘I am Shan and I believe in Jesus!’
When Shan people show an interest in the gospel, their strongly Buddhist community often closes ranks and quietly opposes anything that could threaten traditional beliefs.
The five million Shan, who live in Myanmar (Burma), China, Thailand and Laos, are still largely unreached with the gospel in spite of OMF International’s 45 years of work among them.
It is not only in the Shan State of Myanmar where Shan are turning to Christ from Buddhism. It’s happening wherever people reach out to them.
Lisu and Chinese Christians in both Myanmar and Thailand are joining in the work of reaching the Shan, and have asked for help from OMF International’s workers.
As always, we need more workers to answer the call.