Karen people

Photo: A young Karen girl

Introduction

The story of the Karen people group in Burma and Thailand is long and intricate. What we call the “Karen” in the west is really a collection of 20 + sub-ethnic groups, the largest being the Sqaw and the Pwo.[1] When the British arrived nearly 300 years ago in what would come to be called Burma, they began to intentionally group smaller sub-groups into more cohesive people groups, and it was then that the “Karen” identity began to form.  What is fascinating about the growing ethnic Karen identity is Christianity was introduced during the formation of this growing ethnic cohesion, so in some segments of Karen society, Christianity is genuinely seen as part of a Karen tradition.[2] In fact, it can be said that Christianity – along with Buddhism in other Karen segments - provided the cohesion and knowledge to unite the various scattered Karen groups.[3]

The Karen accept Christianity

The Karen – like many similar tribal groups in SE Asia - have an oral tradition that says they were given a Golden book of wisdom that taught about the One true, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God. But the Karen lost their book either in a field or it was eaten by ants.[4,5] The oral tradition says their white brothers across the sea retained the Golden book from God, however, and would one day bring the Golden book of wisdom back to the Karen.  Additionally, the Karen also believed they were being menaced by an evil spirit and were waiting for the One True God to come back and save the Karen and humanity from sin.[5]

Buddhism was introduced to the Karen 1500 years before Christianity and was mixed with traditional animist beliefs to form a type of hybrid Buddhism by the time the British arrive in Burma.  Buddhism was seen by some Karen as the fulfillment of the oral tradition of the return of the Golden book of wisdom and salvation, yet other Karen readily accepted Christianity and Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the promises of their oral tradition when western missionaries brought the gospel to the Karen in the 1830’s.  For the first Karen who accepted Christianity, the crucial turning point for them were the core components of Christianity; the Bible being seen as the Word of God; the Holy Spirit coming in power to break sin and the bondage of their animist traditions; and Christianity being the religion and source of knowledge of God that they had lost and then retrieved.[6] 

A fight for Identity

Karen state, Myanmar (Burma). Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Karen state, Myanmar (Burma). Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Burma, like its surrounding neighbors - is a country made up of many ethnic minorities.  By one count over a third of the population in Burma belongs to ethnic minorities and within these ethnic minorities, at least 100 different languages are spoken.[7] For nearly 125 years, control of Burma was either fought over by the British (1824 – 1885) or governed by the British as a British colony (1886 – 1942).  During that time a number of ethnic minorities became allies of and supported the British, and thus began to be seen as “loyalists” with the British, to the scorn of the majority people group, the Burmans.[8] The Karen were one of these groups who allied themselves with the British system for nearly a century and fought with the British against the invading Japanese during WWII.  Like many minority people groups in SE Asia – the Hmong and the Khmu for example in Vietnam and Laos – when the ethnic majority sought independence from their colonial masters following WWII, those minority people groups who were previously allied with the Western powers, were the ones who fell into disfavor by the new ruling parties once independence was achieved.  The Karen were one of the many minority people groups who fell into disfavor following Burma’s independence in 1948.

As the new independent Burma was taking shape during the late 40’s onward, the Karen began fighting first for recognition as an indigenous people group, then as an independent Karen nation, and finally as an autonomous Federal region within Burma. While this fight at first occurred around the political table, it shortly turned into a military insurgency against the authoritarian military regime ruling the country.  This insurgency has been waged for the better part of the last 60 years and continues to this day with atrocities occurring on both sides.  

Current situation

A Sqaw Karen Woman shows her old, 73 year old Bible before receiving her new Bible in 2019

A Sqaw Karen Woman shows her old, 73 year old Bible before receiving her new Bible in 2019

What the insurgency has meant over many decades is 1. a large displaced Karen refugee population living within Burma and on the border of Burma and Thailand, 2. Those Karen who are genuine Christians are doubly persecuted for being both Karen (a minority people group who were once allied with the British and are now fighting an insurgency) and Christian (In Burma, religious violations and abuses occur against Christians on a regular basis [9]).  Many Karen are simply caught in the middle of the decades long, brutal power struggle; these are the ones who suffer most.  There are many, many Karen who are true followers of Jesus Christ who live in this doubly difficult plight.  Because of the Karen's situation as a persecuted people group, in a war torn region with many refuges, with a government who is hostile to the Christian faith, the Karen have no access to God’s Word – the very Word that they believe to be the Golden book promised to their people for thousands of years! 

Biblia Global exists to serve brothers and sisters like these and to come alongside those Christians who are asking for God’s Word but don’t have a way to get it! 10 Bibles can be purchased and delivered for $35* - Will you pray about giving to our Bibles for Asia project so Karen Christians and other persecuted Christians in Asia like the Karen may have their own copy of God's Word?


We have a limited number of Karen Bibles available for believers in North America. Please contact us for more information.


Pictures and testimonies from 2019 Sqaw KAren delivery

Biblia Global donors funded 13,427 Bibles for the Sqaw Karen which were delivered in the spring of 2019 (see below).  Thank you to all who give to our Bibles for Asia project who made this possible!


Mr. Htoo, Burma

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My name is Mr. Htoo and I am 51 years old. My parents died when I was seven days old. I have never seen their faces, even in pictures as there are no pictures of my parents. When I was 18 years old I accepted Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. When I was 21 years old I was called to fight for the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to protect our Karen people from the attacks by the Burmese Army. I fought many battles against the Burmese Army, but God protected me and saved me many times from the hands of the enemy.

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When I was 45 years old I fell down and could not walk anymore. So from that time I had to retire from the KIA and my relative built a small bamboo house for me (see the picture). My relatives came to me every day to feed me. I prayed to God every day to heal me so I could walk again, but nothing happened. On June 14, 2019, I received a free Sqaw Karen Bible and I started reading. Whenever I read it, I focused on Jesus and I strongly believed that as God’s Word is powerful and alive that by reading the Word of God, God will heal me. I finished reading the New Testament in three days (June 15-17) and when I woke up in the morning of June 18, I could move my legs. I stood up properly. Then I tried to walk and I could walk. PRAISE THE LORD! After I was healed I called the pastor and he took the picture of me standing with my Bible. I have decided to pray for you every day and whenever I can I will testify of God’s healing power. Thank you to you all who gave and worked to send me a free Bible, through which the Lord has healed me and now this cripple can walk again.


Mrs. NP Sim, Burma

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My name is N.P. Sim and I am 92 years old. I was raised by Christian parents, but we never had a Bible. I accepted Christ when I was 15-years-old and since that time I have been praying to have my own Bible. But because of the fighting, I have had to move out of 11 villages during my life. We always lost our land, our animals, and our houses, all that we owned, and we could not go back to our villages. We lost everything each time and just ran for our lives. But God is so good and He has saved my life until today.

Until today, I have never had my own Bible. But God never forgot my prayers to have my own Bible. And now today, in May of 2019, after praying for 77 years, you have given me a free Sqaw Karen Bible with hymnal, and this is the first Bible I have every owned in my life. I thank the Lord that he has answered my 77 years of prayer for a Bible. And I am so blessed that I can read this Bible without eye glasses. Today is by far the happiest day in my life, because I have seen, received free, and now own my own Bible.

I lost my husband and three children because of the fighting. I live alone now. But God has given me the best friend in my life now and that is His Word; the Bible. There is only one copy of Bible in our village which is 23 years old and it was put in the church pulpit and only the Pastor can use it. This may be difficult to believe for this present time, but this is real and unbelievable.

By the grace of God, now we received Sqaw Karen Bibles freely. When we heard that our Sqaw Karen Bible would be distributed freely in our village, no one believed it, because it has never happened in our area. But it is real and it has happened today. How great God is today for our village.

There are many more villages in our area that do not have Bibles. They are also praying to be able to get Bibles in their villages. Our region is very remote so most people do not visit us. In rainy season there is no way or road to get to our villages. Therefore, I would like to humbly request that you please remember and have concern for the others who do not yet have a Bible and please bring Bibles to these other villages. There are many, many, many more villages that do not have Bibles.

May the Lord Bless you. And I would like to say again and again, ‘Thank you so much for giving me this precious gift of a Bible.’


Mr. Saw K., Burma

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My name is Saw K. from T Village. I am 72 years old.  My parents died in the war when I was only five years old.  I was raised by my uncle’s family.  My uncle was the pastor for seven villages in our area.  He has passed away already, but as far as I remember, he never had a Bible of his own.  But he only had some hand copied verses from the Bible in his notebook. 

I was converted to Christ when I was 17 years old by the teaching of my uncle.  From that time I was very hungry to read the Bible and I wanted to have my own Bible.  Then I started praying for a Bible, but I never received one.  But I have kept praying my whole life to own a Bible.

In our village only the pastor has a Bible that is always kept on the pulpit.  Only the pastor can use it, because we don’t wont’ someone to borrow it and lose it.  Even the pastor cannot take the Bible to his house.  This is the highest rule in our village church.  It’s because we highly respect the Bible and want to make sure the pastor always has a Bible to preach from.  But we always also want to read the Bible, but we have never had the opportunity to do so.  Only the pastor can read the one Bible in our village.

By the grace of God and by God’s chosen people from around the world, today I have received the free gift of a Sqaw Karen Bible with hymnal.  After praying to God without ceasing for 55 years, today God has answered and given me my own Bible.  But not just me, but every family in our village has received a Bible.  Now God has broken down our church rule concerning the Bible as we have all received a free Bible.  This freely distributed Holy Bible is unbelievable for us, because it has never happened before during my 72 years of life.  We are all crying unto God with big tears and praising Him for His unending love to us: the most remote and forgotten people. 

I give to the sponsors my deepest heartfelt thanks.  And I deeply desire that the sponsors continue to remember the remote Sqaw Karen Christians as there are many, many more villages without even one Bible in the entire village.  Please don’t forget them. 

May God bless you all more and more.


Reverend Samuel, Burma

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My name is Reverend Samuel. I have been the pastor in TTG Village since 1993 (26 years). When I went to Bible school I had a Bible, but then I became the pastor in SB Village during the war. The war came to our village and we all ran for our lives and we left all our belongings in the house. So since then I don’t have a Bible. I have been serving the Lord all these years without a Bible. When I transferred to be the pastor in TTG Village, there was also no Bible in the whole village. After three years the church was able to buy one Bible. It is 23 years old now, and you can see from the picture that it is falling apart. No one was allowed to read this Bible, except for me since I was the pastor. But I had to read it in the church. I could not take it home to read it. The church was afraid that if they lent out the Bible then it would get lost and the church would once again be without a Bible.

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Many, many times we tried to buy more Bibles, but the villagers are very poor and it’s very difficult to get out from our village, because there is no road from here to the city. We live in a very remote place. Therefore, the villagers or church members had never touched a Bible in their lives. On January 1, 1999, I encouraged my members to pray to be able to own their own Bible. From that time until today (June 2019) we have kept praying this prayer to have Bibles. It has been so long without an answer that some people have given up praying for a Bible. But most of them have kept praying in great faith. In 2011 I went to Yangon and I went to the bookshop to buy a Bible, but I left in tears, because it cost 22,000 Myanmar Kyat [around $14.60 USD] to buy one Sqaw Karen Bible, but I only had 10,000 Kyat [about $6.60 USD]. So after 20 years of praying for our Sqaw Karen Bible, God answered our prayers with a great miracle. Because we received not only the Bible, but the hymnal and responsive readings, too, and it’s all for free and one per home. Thanks to all the sponsors.

After One Month Of Having The Bible In Our Village

My church members are reading the Bible every day, and there are great changes happening in our church and in our village. People now have big smiles. They have stopped using alcohol and cigarettes, and they love each other. Now they are hungry to hear the word of God. The people are filling the church during the services, and they are coming early so as not to miss anything. And many are now coming to the church at dawn to pray early in the morning. This is the first time we have had early morning prayer in our church. But now we have a problem in that so many people are coming to church that the church building cannot hold them all.

Whenever I walk through the village I see people reading their Bibles. And now each evening most families have family worship in the homes, family singing, and praying at home. Their negative words and gossiping has changed to thanking and praising God. So our church and village is now like a heavenly village.

Thank you so much for your precious and greatest gift to our church and village. You make our church and village smile and be happy and experience the heavenly life. God bless you all abundantly!


Mrs. MAry, Burma

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My name is Mrs. Mary and I am 67 years old. I am from D Village, Karen State. I was born into a Christian family, but when I was two-years-old my parents died in the jungle from snake bites. So I was raised by my aunt and uncle. Because of the war, more than seven times we had to abandon our village and find another village to live in. Life was horrible, because we were always running for our lives. I only finished primary school. I started primary school when I was eight years old, but because we had to run so many times, it took me 11 years to finish primary school. I may have set the world record for having spent the longest time in primary school.

After primary school the army came again and burned to the ground every house in our village. Once again we had to run for our lives. My uncle died in this attack and I was so sad.

When I was 12 years old I had a Bible, but six months later I had to run for my life and I lost my Bible during that attack. I really wanted to own a Bible again, but there was no way for me to get a Bible. One reason is that I was living in a very remote village and there were no Bibles to buy. And also, I had no income. Just feeding myself daily was difficult. There is no road from this village to the city. To get to the city we must walk 14 hours. During the rainy season we could not go, because the road would turn into deep mud and there was also too much water. But I always prayed to God to be able to own my own Bible before I died. Whenever I prayed to God for my own Bible, I had confidence in my heart that God would answer. But I did not know when I would get a Bible of my own. So every morning I continued to pray for a Bible. After praying for 55 years and 6 months, God answered my prayers through you and the local workers here. God’s plan for me is wonderful and amazing, because I prayed only for a Bible, but God has answered me with a Bible, hymn book, and responsive readings all in one book. I am so happy and satisfied. I always read the Bible, and when I read more I love more and I feel more of the love of God in my life.

I would like to share with you that there are thousands of Sqaw Karen people who live in the remote and jungle areas and they do not have Bibles. They are praying to be able to get Bibles for their family. So I would like to request to you to please remember them and care for them and bring Bibles for them, since God has given you a heart to see the poor people of the world receive the Word of God. God bless you more and more.


Mrs. Ti, Burma

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My name is Mrs. Ti. I am 53 years old and I have lived in KK Village since 1992. Before I came here, most of the time we lived in the jungle while running for our lives. We often had to move, and each time we moved we lost everything we owned. We lost land, animals, houses, friends, relatives, and more. My father had one Bible for our family, but when we had to flee from our home because of the war coming to our village we lost everything and we lost that Bible. I eagerly wanted to have a Bible again, but there was no way for me to get a Bible. Even in my dreams I never owned my own Bible. But since I reached this village in 1992 I have been praying to God for a Bible. I used to write down some scriptures from my Pastor, and then I would memorize these scriptures. The greatest ambition in my life was to be able to buy my own Bible. But after 27 years of praying, God has answered my prayers and fulfilled the greatest desire of my heart. God has given me a Bible. For me, I have never held a Bible in my hands until today (June 2019). Now I know that God is faithful and He answers our prayers. When I prayed for a Bible, I would often pray a scripture that I had memorized from my pastor’s preaching. This verse is Ezekiel 12:25 which says, “For I am the Lord. I will speak and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass. It will no longer be prolonged, but it will happen in your days….” God’s Word really worked and it has actually happened as He said it would. My God is so good and worthy to be trusted and praised.

In the past other people who said they had Bible Distribution Ministries came to our village and they took pictures and promised to give us free Bibles, but they never came back. So it is very difficult to believe them. So when we informed people from a nearby village that Bibles would be distributed for free, one per family, they didn’t believe us. Because it has never ever happened for us before. But when it really happened, our neighbors were amazed. Therefore, thanks to you all for your real work and to stand on your promise to give us free Bibles. Thank you. And please remember the thousands and thousands of Sqaw Karen Christians who have never had a Bible in their entire lives. I would say that 97% of the Christians in the remote, jungle, and mountainous areas have never had a Bible. God bless you.


Mr. Karly, Burma

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My name is Mr. Karly. I am 77 years old and I live in TG Village. I was married and I had nine children, but I am alone now, because all of my children died in the jungle in 1992 while we ran for our lives from the Burmese Army. My wife was killed in a bombing in 1993. I don’t have any relatives, and I don’t know where the other people are from my village, as we all ran in different directions. My life is horrible, since I have lost everything. My life is worse than Job’s.

I have always wanted to have and to read the Bible, but I have never had a Bible. Throughout my life I have often asked the Pastors and Evangelists how I can get a Bible. But they all said it is very difficult to get a Bible. They often said that if they can get one, they will give it to me. But I never received one from any of them. So I decided to only trust God and I realized that God can meet my need. I started praying to God for a Bible in 1966 when I was 24 years old. After 53 years of praying God has answered my prayer and I have been freely given a Bible and hymnal. I am so happy to God, even though I am alone and my house is built of only bamboo leaves, because God is the one who saved me and He encourages me every time. Once I started reading my Bible I understood better who my God is and how great He is. In the natural world I own nothing. But now I own the most precious thing in life, and that is God’s Word. Thanks to you all!


Mrs. Thida, Burma

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My name is Mrs. Thida.  I am 39 years old and I live in TP Village.  I have five children. My husband died on July 19, 2015 when he was fishing in the ocean.  My parents are born again Christians and I was converted when I was 11 years old through my father’s teaching about salvation.  Ever since I became a Christian I wanted to buy and have my own Bible that I could read whenever I wanted to.  But our village is so far from the city and our family income is sometimes not even enough for our daily meals.  In 2011 I started saving money to buy a Bible.  After two years I had saved 5,000 Myanmar Kyat (about $5 USD).  When my pastor was going to make a trip to Yangon in 2013, I gave him the money and asked him to buy a Bible for me. 

When my pastor went to the bookshop and asked the price for a Sqaw Karen Bible, the price was 18,000 Myanmar Kyat (or about $18 USD).  So my pastor could not buy one for me.  I was so upset, because my total savings could not buy even one copy of the Bible.  I copied Scripture verses on blank paper and our family would read together before we went to sleep at night.  Every night our family prayed to be able to buy and own a Bible.   It’s not easy for me to save more money for a Bible, because I am caring for five children without a husband.  Our house is built of bamboo. Four of my children go to school and the youngest one is with me all day long.  I cannot afford to send him to nursery school.   

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I thank God that by God’s grace we received a free Sqaw Karen Bible with hymnal for our home.  God knows our family’s prayer and our need for a Bible.  As soon as my children were home from school I told them about God answering our prayers for a Bible.  And my children and I started praising God and crying with big tears for God’s goodness to our family. Now our family owns the most precious thing in the world, the Word of God.  Even though our family is poor, we can praise God, pray to God, and sing to God every night.  

Not having a Bible was the biggest need in our family.  Thanks to everyone who helped us to receive a Bible.  You have provided for my family’s greatest need.  

Having one Bible per family is wonderful compared to not having a single Bible in the Home.  But if I may request that you please give every family at least two Bibles.  It will be much better for us as we have large families. Secondly, there are many more Sqaw Karen villages that didn’t receive any Bibles this time, because they did not know about this project. So now they know and they would also like to have Bibles distributed in their villages.  Please remember them and help them.  The Bible is everything for our Christian life.


Mrs. Serah, Burma

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My name is Mrs. Serah.  I am 85 years old and I live in PC Village.  I was raised in a Christian family.

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When I was 12 years old, an English man presented me with our Sqaw Karen Bible.  I read the Bible and understood more about God and His love.  I learned many things to help my life.  I taught the word of God to my children.  My children are grown and they are successful in their lives because they fear God.

In 1980 our village was attacked by the Burmese Army and my house was bombed and it was burned up.  I lost everything, except the Bible survived. That Bible is 73 years old. 

I could never buy a new Bible, so I always kept my 73-year-old Bible.  But now, you have presented me with a new Bible with hymnal and responsive Bible readings.  I really thank you.  I am reading my new Bible every day, and because of reading the Bible, God has healed my eyes and now I can clearly see the words and there is no more pain in my eyes.   Praise the Lord. Thank you, Lord, for healing me through Your word. And thank you, God, for this new Bible.


Mr. Ni Htoo, Burma

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My name is Mr. Ni Htoo, I am 57 years old, and I live in SGG Village.  I was raised in a Christian family and I accepted Christ as my personal savior when I was 17 years old.  I am a pianist.  I starting learning the piano when I was 4 years old.  I always play the piano in church.  When I was 12 years old our family lived in the jungle for two years, because of the fighting.  After that we lived in three different villages as we tried to find a peaceful place to live.  In the war we lost everything that we owned.  In each new village where we moved to we had to restart life with nothing. 

Before today, my family and I have never owned a Bible.  The only place where we have ever seen a Bible is on the pulpit of the church.  In each of the villages that we moved to it was like this.  We believed that the Bible was only for the pastor to use.  We believed this because no one else in our remote area could get a Bible.  We had no hope of ever having our own Bible or ever being able to read the Bible ourselves. 

But by the grace of God, now that I am 57 years old, I have received a free Sqaw Karen Bible with hymnal for my very own.  This is really amazing to own a Bible even though we are not pastors.  After our family received our Bible, we gather every night and we read it together.  We sing the hymns together.  And we pray together.  Our family is now a very sweet family, because of reading the Bible.  Thank you so much for your precious gift of Bibles with hymnals.  Every family is singing and reading the Bible every night.  God bless you all!


Reverend Simon, Burma

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My name is Reverend Simon.  I have been the pastor in L Karen Baptist church for 34 years.  I am now 64 years old. 

I was converted to Christ when I was 15 years old through the sharing of my pastor.  I only attended a discipleship training course, and after that I was appointed the pastor.  I had one very old Bible when I was first a pastor.  But after two years of being a pastor, the war came to our village.  My house was bombed and destroyed and my Bible inside my home was destroyed.  So I was left without a Bible all these years, even though I am the pastor.   

In 2009 I went to Yangon and I bought one Bible for 18,000 Kyat (about US$18).  In 2012 a thief came to my house and even stole my Bible.  Hopefully the Bible will be good for the thief.  I have not had a Bible again until today.  In the past I tried to get another Bible from the bookshop in Yangon, but now it costs 22,000 Kyat, and I didn’t have enough money.  So for many years I would copy down some verses from my pastor friend’s Bible, and I have used these verses for my preaching.  There are 675 families in our village, but there was no Bible in the entire village.  My members are so hungry to read the Word of God, but there were no Bibles to read.  

When I heard the good news that Sqaw Karen Bibles would be freely distributed here, I could not believe this was real.  In my thinking this seemed impossible.  I have never heard of this happening in my life.  I informed to our neighboring village, but they didn’t believe, like I didn’t believe.  So only a few people from that village came to the distribution.  But after they went home to their village with their Bibles the other villagers did believe.  Then they came and asked for Bibles as well, and we had Bibles to give to them.  This is the greatest blessing in our lives. 

Great Changes have come after reading the Bible for One Month

After having received free Bibles in our church and village one month ago, there have been great changes in people’s lives, and some miracles have happened.

People are reading the Bible often.  Every family is praying and singing hymns together in night time. People are hungry to learn more of the Bible so more people are attending church services.   The Bible is alive and powerful, and the more the people read the Bible the more their lives are automatically changed by the Spirit of God.  They have stopped drinking alcohol, stopped smoking, and stopped using drugs.  They now realize all that God has done for them and their negative thinking has changed to positive thinking.  They always focus on the Lord.   A sick man, while reading the Bible with faith, God healed him of paralysis.  The people love each other more than before.  The people are obeying the teachings in the Bible.  They are praying before they go to their farms.  In church they are sharing how God is blessing their hearts and their families.  Our church is experiencing the heavenly life after only one month of freely receiving and reading the Bibles.

Therefore, I strongly believe that after one year of having and reading our Bibles, our church will be more like Christ. All the villagers are happy and enjoying being in God’s presence and reading the Bibles.

There are many villages those who did not get Bible and there is no Bible in their villages, so please reprint and help them, too. This is my deepest request to you all in Jesus name.  May God bless you all!


Mr. Soe Naing, Burma

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My name is Mr. Soe Naing, I live in K Village. I am 41 years old and I have 8 children.  I was raised in a Christian family, but I never owned a Bible before.  My whole life I have never even held a Bible.  My parents died never having owned a Bible.  My father and mother always said that they would like to own a Bible before they died, but I am so sorry for my parents that this did not come true for them.

Ninety-five percent of K villagers have moved here from many different villages, because of the war in the conflict areas.  They lost everything they ever owned, because of running away for their lives.  Some of their relatives and close friends died in the forest by malaria, being shot by the army, or by bombs dropped by the army.  It is not easy for us to own a Bible, because the transportation problems, our poverty, and the expensive price to buy a Bible in the city.   And even though our hearts are really hungry to read God’s word and we all want to own a Bible, most of us had given up hope that we would ever own a Bible in our lives. 

There is not even one Bible in our village.  We don’t even have a pastor in our village.  But once a month a pastor comes and visits us, and we have only ever seen the Bible in his hands.  In all our lives we have never seen any other Bible.  When the pastor opens the Bible and reads from it we all appreciate it so much.  And we all would like to look into the Bible ourselves, but our whole lives we have never had the opportunity to read even one verse of scripture for ourselves.

But God has not forgotten us.  By God’s grace we have now unexpectedly and freely received one Bible per family.  This Bible is the first one I have ever held in my life.  Everyone in the village is full of joy and thankfulness to God and God’s people.  They are reading the Bible every day.  I can smile now, because I own the most important and special thing in life.  God bless you more and more.  And please remember to help the other Sqaw Karen people who did not get a Bible yet.  There are so many who still need a Bible in their home.  Many villages don’t even have one Bible in the entire village.  This may seem unbelievable, but it’s true. 


Mr. Thiha, Burma

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My name Mr. Thiha and I am 72 years old.  I live in K Village. I have retired from the government army.  My parents are Christians, and I accepted Christ when I was 12 years old through the teaching of our pastor.

My father gave me a very old Bible when I started working in the army, and I always read it wherever I was sent.  Sometimes I was in the battle field and fighting other militias, but I always brought my Bible in my pocket.  In 1998 I was shot in the legs.  I lost my Bible at that time, and I also lost both of my legs.  I had to retire from the army at that time.  And since 1998 I have never seen another Bible to buy.  I have always tried to buy another Bible but it is not easy for me to travel to the city without legs.  And the roads to my village are terrible. The worst roads possible.  My first prayer to God every day is to have a copy of His Word.  I prayed twice every day since 1999 to have a Bible.  After 20 years of praying God has answered my prayers and He has provided me with a free Bible.  I am so happy that I cannot express in words the joy in my heart.  Thank you for giving me the greatest gift that I could ever receive!  May the Lord bless you all!


Pictures and testimonies from 2017 Pwo KAren delivery

Biblia Global donors funded 1000 Bibles for the Pwo Karen which were delivered in the spring of 2017 (see below).  Thank you to all who give to our Bibles for Asia project who made this possible!


Miss Su Ton, Pwo Karen student, Burma

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My name is Su Ton.  I am a student.  Both of my parents are farmers.  I am their oldest child.  My parents raised me to believe in Christ and I learned so much about him in my Sunday school class and I really love God.  I’m not a nominal Christian.  When I was young I accepted Jesus.

After I accepted Jesus Christ I really wanted to read the Bible, but there weren’t any Bibles available to me.  So often I prayed to God, because I worried that I would be distant from my Lord. With a life of prayer I experienced God’s answers and protection.  Once I was drowning in a river and God saved me.  When I have problems He brings me through them all.

Thank you so much for giving me my first Bible.  I can’t wait to start reading it. My favorite Bible verse that I learned in Sunday school is Psalms 121:8:  “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.”


Mr. SA, Assistant Pastor at a Pwo Karen Church, Burma

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My name is Mr. SA.  I am an assistant pastor in our church. I was raised in a Christian family in the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar.  I am the oldest of six children in my family.  My parents were farmers.  In 2008 the Nargis Cyclone killed both of my parents and 4 of my siblings.  Only my sister and I survived.  This was devastating to us.  We both suffered physical injury and deep emotional pain.

When I was a child I never practiced any religion and I lived my own way.  I loved to go fishing and to drink alcohol.  My parents always told me that God is my refuge and I should seek to rest under his care.  But I didn’t care about what they were saying. But then on May 2, 2008, Cylone Nargis hit our area and many people died without help.  I wondered why I was still alive.  Maybe I survived because I would not have gone to heaven if I had died then.  I decided to start seeking God.  I found a church and started attending.  They gave me a Burmese language Bible and I started to read it.  I didn’t understand everything in the Burmese language, but I did learn that God loved me very much.  I realized God let me live to give me one more chance to live for His glory.  I confessed my sin and turned back to God.  It was amazing to me that I had to come back to God though I had never denied God.  Though I had neglected God and perhaps by my actions I had denied Him.

My favorite scripture verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” I am so grateful to receive a free copy of the Bible and Hymnal in my own Pwo Karen language.  God bless you all. Amen


Miss Htoo, Pwo Karen Church planter and evangelist, KLT church, burma

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My name is Htoo and I am an evangelist from our church.  I came to know Christ through the teaching of my Christian parents.  They shared so much about God’s love, so I put my faith in Jesus as my savior and my Lord and I trust in Him that He will take care of me in every situation. 

I wanted to read the Bible and pray most of the time, but life was so busy that I didn’t have time to do much of either.  When I had a job, I could take a few minutes at break time to read from my New Testament.  I also prayed that God would give me more time to read the Bible.  And He answered by giving me an invitation to attend Bible school.  I was so happy and all day I could read the scriptures.  I grew in knowledge and faith, and after graduation I returned to my village as an evangelist. 

One day one of my uncles encouraged me to serve God by serving the neediest people in Padautgone Village.  “They don’t have a church or even a Sunday school class,” he told me.  So I prayed to the Lord about moving to Padautgone Village.  I felt the Lord release me to move there and serve Him by sharing the good news, so I did.

When I arrived there, I found that most of the people were atheists and drunks and they had never paid any attention to God or shown Him any respect.  I prayed to God to convert the sinners and to start a church in that village.  But to be honest, it was so hard for me as a lady to try to do this.  But God is greater than my weaknesses and He is greater than the problems that I had to face.  And God is so amazing.  After one year three people accepted Christ and were baptized.  Now almost thirty people have accepted Christ and are baptized and we have our church.  And now, thanks to you, we have scriptures to give to all the new believers.  I am nothing, but God is everything and the Lord has done great things for us. My favorite scripture is the whole chapter of Psalm 91.


Miss Sa Naw, Pastor Pwo Karen church, burma

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My name is Sa Naw. In 2000 I graduated Bible school and was recognized as a minister. In 2011 I was appointed a pastor of a small church. But it was difficult to lead the church without a copy of the Bible. I was concerned about the wellbeing of the church members, but I didn’t know how to lead them properly. Because of this I suffered inside, both spiritually and emotionally. Sometimes I became depressed and sometimes I considered resigning my position.

But then I received a Pwo Karen Bible with hymnal and it strengthened me and it taught me how to lead my church members. I gained knowledge learned of God’s promises for us. So in all situations now I trust the Holy Spirit to show me the way through all problems. Now I am overcoming all the problems by reading the Bible and praying to God. Receiving the Bible and reading it every day has made me feel spiritually more mature and bless by God.

I really appreciate all the donors who gave us the Pwo Karen Bible with Hymnal. God bless you all.


Notes:

[1] Jessica Harriden, “Karen Identity and the Politicization of Ethnicity,” Journal of Burma Studies, no. 7 (2002): 85.

[2] Gravers, Mikael, “Conversion and Identity: Religion and the Formation of Karen Ethnic Identity in Burma”, in Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma, Ed. Mikael Gravers (NIAS Press, Malaysia, 2007), 232

[3] Ibid.

[4] Paul Keenan, “Faith at a Crossroads: Religions and Beliefs of the Karen People of Burma,” Karen Heritage, Vol. 1, Issue 1: 3.

[5] Ibid, 233 – 234.

[6] Ibid, 234 – 235.

[7] Gravers, Mikael, “Preface”, in Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma, Ed. Mikael Gravers (NIAS Press, Malaysia, 2007), vii.

[8] Jessica Harriden, “Karen Identity and the Politicization of Ethnicity,”: 99.

[9] Rachel Fleming, “Hidden Plight: Christian Minorities in Burma,” U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (December 2016), accessed June 6, 2017, https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Hidden%20Plight.%20Christian%20Minorities%20in%20Burma.pdf 


*Your gift to Biblia Global and our Bibles for Asia Project will pay for the printing of Bibles to our Asian brothers and sisters in the hardest to reach places of the globe. Unfortunately we cannot preference gifts to go to an individual people group's Bible printing; we instead pool the money given to the Bibles for Asia Project to fund the next Bible printing for Asian tribes in greatest need of Bibles. Printing costs are usually $3 - $8 per Bible and transportation cost are roughly $1 per Bible.