Fear, Grief, then Supernatural Peace: Myanmar Christians Process Draft

While many young people feel helpless over the news of the conscription law, believers see an opening for ministry.

When Kyaw Sone, a 27-year-old seminary student in Yangon, Myanmar, heard the news last month that the government was conscripting young men and women amid the country’s civil war, he felt “very, very sad.”

“These are our oppressors and now we have to fight for them,” he said of the military junta that overthrew the elected government in a coup three years ago. Since then, civilians—including many of Kyaw Sone’s Christian friends—have fled to the jungles to join resistance groups fighting the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military. “In my flesh, I [also] want to fight them,” Kyaw Sone added. (CT has agreed to pseudonyms for the Christians in Myanmar interviewed, for security.)

Kyaw Sone, who is part of the small Christian community in Rakhine State, has witnessed the brutality of the Tatmadaw firsthand. In 2017, the junta forcibly evicted the Muslim Rohingya people in Rakhine, killing thousands and forcing 700,000 to flee to Bangladesh. Since the coup, fighting between the well-funded military and an alliance of ethnic armed groups and pro-democracy forces has intensified, with the military bombing churches and destroying entire villages. The junta also cut off aid to Rakhine after Cyclone Mocha last year, leading to an unknown number of deaths.

Over and over Kyaw Sone prayed, “God, what should I do?” until he felt God touch his heart. “He has chosen me for ministry and the church,” he said. “While I am angry and I want to fight, through prayer I see God is using me for his kingdom, so I will stay and serve.”

News of the conscription law—which affects men ages 18 to 35 and women ages 18 to 27—has sent shock waves through the …

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