The Golden Land
You may know of Myanmar by its previous name of Burma, as the country the famous missionary Adoniram Judson travelled to, or possibly as ‘the Golden Land’, a reference to the thousands of glittering pagodas scattered across the landscape.
Even though the country is often represented as 8 main people groups, Myanmar is a vibrant multicolored mosaic of over 100 different people groups.
A Timeline of Events
Arrival of Buddhist Missionaries
Myanmar was one of the first Southeast Asian regions to receive Buddhist missionaries from India in the 3rd century BC.
Christian witness in Myanmar dates back over 400 years through the witness of Portugese Catholic missionaries. The most prominent early convert was Nat Shin-naung, lord of Toungoo (Taungoo) and would-be king, who was also renowned as a poet. King Anaukpetlun of Ava (Inwa) was outraged by his renunciation of Buddhism and he was martyred in 1612. ~ Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). Donald M. Seekins . 2014.
The Myanmar Bible
James Chater, Richard Mardon arrived in Burma in 1807, followed by Felix Carey. Adoniram and Ann (Nancy) Judson arrived in 1813 from America. Adoniram Judson translated the Bible into Burmese and established a number of Baptist churches.
Myanmar, having already lost four states, the British, annexed the remainder of the Burma in the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885. Pictured (Left) is the Secretariat building, or Prime Minister’s Office. This was the home of the Executive Council during the transfer of power from the British, and is where General Aung San was assassinated. It was abandoned by the government in their move to Naypyidaw.
CIM missionary James O Fraser pioneered work amongst Lisu, north of Myanmar. This sparked a national movement of evangelism that persists to today. “Mountain Rain” by Eileen Crossman tells this story.
On 4 January 1948, after conflict with Japan during WWII, the nation became an independent republic. The new country was named the Union of Burma, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first president and U Nu as its first prime minister.
On 2 March 1962, the military, led by General Ne Win took control of Burma through a coup d’état. The country’s official English name was changed from from the “Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma” to the “Union of Myanmar” on 18 June 1989. Elections in 2011 enabled a pseudo-civilian government to replace direct military rule, and in 2016 the long-standing opposition party, the National League for Democracy, assumed office. This arrangement ended in 2021 under the leadership of Min Aung Hlaing. This move, wildly unpopular has led to widespread political unrest.
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