Reaching New People Groups
Mru Tribe (pronounced Myoo)
The Mru people live in the border area where India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar come together and are often identified as a sub-group of the Chin people. The majority of the Mru people (approximately 40,000) live in western Burma and they’re spread around southern Chin State and northern Rakhine State. They live mostly in bamboo huts within primitive villages or settlements without electricity or running water. Many of the Mru villages are located on rivers, creeks, or some kind of tributary, used for transportation. Each village has a chief. There is usually some form of religious temple, mostly Buddhist pagodas. Homes are made of bamboo with a roof formed by layering dried leaves. Families mostly farm for a living, raising tobacco, vegetables, and rice, or by herding oxen or water buffalo. Much like the surrounding peoples, their ceremonial dress is usually very colorful. Both men and women wear a skirt-like longyi.
The Mru are sometimes considered a people without a country because they are forced to live in the lands of other peoples. They have been persecuted much and, within Myanmar, the Mru are despised by the Rakhine, the ancient Arakan people, who look down on them as inferior.
The Mru are traditionally animists, the belief that non-living objects have spirits, and worship these “nats.” But in modern times, especially within Myanmar, they have combined the worship of spirits with Buddhism. The following is taken from Wikipedia’s article on “Mro People:”
“Merely 7.4% of the Mro adheres to Christianity even though 64% of them have heard the gospel. New Testament was translated into Mro language in 1994. In 1997, an incident that made a considerable number of the Mru convert to Christians. The main temple near the Christian villages could not persuade the Christians to recant and resort to persecution. The monks led a gang of men to the Christian villages, and burned down the churches and pastors’ homes and beat the villagers. However, as the group crossed a mountain pass on their way to the first Mro village, a thunderbolt struck, idling the persecutors on the spot. Another lightning struck the 300-year-old Buddhist temple, burning it to the ground. A second gang of persecutors sailed to another Christian village on the bank of the river by raft. As they floated through the river, a heavy fog settled, severely impeding the visibility. The boat then was crashed by a fast-floating barge, sinking it and causing several people drown. When these news spread to the Mro villages in the area, most of them decided to convert to Christians.”
But this information applies only to Mru people living in Bangladesh and India, AND IT IS ONLY REFERRING TO ROMAN CATHOLIC INFLUENCE. There has been no work among the Mru people by Evangelicals or Baptists. According to research by the Joshua Project, a ministry of the U.S. Center for World Missions, there are currently no mission agencies or groups working with the Mru people within Myanmar – that is, EXCEPT GLBM. GLBM’s primary missionary/church-planter among the Mru people is Mang Sar, a Palatwa-Chin preacher with the spirit of the Apostle Paul. (See Preachers and Church-Planters)
Kayin (Karen) Sugarcane Workers Village – First Contact
GLBM seeks to plant a church in this village where we preached the gospel of Christ to an eager group of sugarcane workers. The people are mostly of the Kayin (or, Karen) tribe but they had never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ before we went there. We were first contact. We were told that it wasn’t that other groups didn’t have access to these people; it was the fact that no one else had ever cared to go to them. GLBM was thrilled to be the first ambassadors of Christ to these people and they greeted us very warmly. Thank you for supporting GLBM so that these and others can hear for the first time.