The Karen people comprise various people groups in Myanmar and Thailand who speak a similar Sino-Tibetan language. The Karen are the largest tribal minority in Myanmar and Thailand. The Pa-O is a Karen people group and 851,000 live in Peninsular Asia.
The Pa-O are called Taungthu by the Burmese, and by the British colonialists, they were called Black Karen because of their black or dark blue dresses. In contrast to other Karen groups, most Pa-O are Buddhist rather than animists or Christians like their counterparts. Buddhism has a strong influence on Pa-O society. On the outskirts of their villages, there are large wooden temples. However, they do retain some animistic beliefs such as worshiping house and tree spirits.
Engagement // What’s Happening Now
The first Christian workers arrived in Peninsular Asia in 1813 and translated a Bible in Burmese. There are nearly 1000 AG congregations in Peninsular Asia and two Bible schools which are training approximately 360 students. Pray for continued growth as students and other workers plant churches throughout Peninsular Asia.
Sustainability // The Bigger Story
According to the article, “Reaching Buddhist,” 80 percent of the world’s Buddhist live in the PenAsian countries of Laos, Thailand, Vietnam Cambodia, and Myanmar. Buddhists are difficult to reach simply because of the large gap in understanding between Christians and Buddhists. In order to reach Buddhists, one must learn the Buddhist mindset and depend greatly on the Holy Spirit for insight.
Partnership // Move Beyond
Please spend a few minutes in prayer for:
- Pray for God’s favor and power over the churches in Peninsular Asia, that their ministries will flourish and more would come to know Christ.
- Pray for workers who will commit to building strong and personal relationships with Buddhists.
- Pray God gives insight to workers as they engage Buddhist Pa-O.