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... so that the world may believe - John 17:21

TIME MAGAZINE, the Karen People in 1949


BURMA: Baptist Rebellion – resisting Burmese (Myanmar) majority

Monday, Apr. 04, 1949

The Karens have always been a separate people; but their conversion to Christianity intensified their division from the Buddhist Burmans. The first Karen convert was Ko Tha Byu, a Karen bandit bought out of slavery by Dr. Adoniram Judson, a Baptist missionary from Maiden, Mass, who had arrived in Burma in 1813.

Ko Tha Byu learned to read the Scriptures, was baptized, and set out to convert his fellow tribesmen. Karens, who had a myth that one day their "lost white brother"; would return over the great waters with a "lost book"; made willing listeners.

When bands of Karens began to arrive in Rangoon to be baptized, the Burmans threw them into prison. One convert, Ko Shwe Waing, was released and smuggled a Bible in the Karen language through the back jungle trails to his native village. There he reverently unwrapped the mythical lost book in the flickering light of a primitive lamp and the villagers wept with happiness. For decades the Karen Baptists remained a persecuted religious minority. As late as 1851, it was illegal for Karen people to learn how to read.

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