The Cost of Leaving Ancestral and Animist Beliefs to Follow Jesus
In today’s world, many believers find themselves trapped in the ideology of mixing worshiping Jesus with ancestral or animistic traditions. In countries like Bhutan, Myanmar and Laos, animistic traditions and practices are entrenched from childhood with it being a part of everyday culture. For many believers, it’s hard to abandon some of these traditions and unlearn ways that bind them to their families and communities. But for many who leave their ancestral and animistic traditions and rituals, they experience full freedom through Jesus Christ. This freedom breaks every chain of spiritual bondage and heaviness. Moses and Naomi are one of the many believers who’ve left their Buddhist and animistic traditions to follow Jesus and experienced this freedom. Today, they’re teaching many members in their village about our Jesus who saves!
Moses*, who is a carpenter by profession, lives a simple life with his wife Naomi* and four children. His life changed while working as a caretaker of a church building. Through his work as the caretaker, he met Jesus and gave his life to Christ.
“I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour. From that moment onwards I had a burden to share salvation with lost souls, and I could feel God [calling] me to be a missionary,” says Moses.
Moses’ desire to share the love of Jesus with others was fulfilled when a mission organisation invited him for training. He later became a partner missionary and moved to a new village with his family. When they arrived in the new village, Moses and his wife knew they needed to share the love of Jesus with the villagers. They knew they would face spiritual battles by doing this and would need to fight it with the power of the blood of Jesus Christ.
It’s a good thing that Moses and Naomi are both prayer warriors who pray for strength, guidance and help from the Holy Spirit daily. They need it in this village.
“The village is purely Burmese, and they not only follow Buddhism but also follow and worship all kinds of spirits and demons, and they practice witchcraft too. They use witchcraft on us, and they plan magical things that will harm us around the compound, but every time we claim victory in Jesus name and pray every day.”
This hasn’t deterred the couple as Naomi prays and claims the place and souls of the villagers for Jesus. She also prays against the spirits that oppress the people and the village.
Every Sunday, Moses and Naomi host services and special events for their community. “When we are about to share the Gospel on Sundays, we start singing songs with the guitar, and my children will go and invite people saying that we will teach them some songs.” Moses also invites villagers to attend birthday parties and Christmas celebrations. The villagers bring gifts and enjoy free food, and Moses takes the opportunity to share the Gospel with the villagers.
But this has come at a price…
As Moses continues to share the Gospel with the villagers, the persecution increases, not just against him but also his family. Moses’ motorcycle was damaged by one of the villagers three times. His eldest son was ambushed one day, attacked and severely beaten. Moses also received a couple of beatings from the villagers. Despite all of this, they continue to remain strong and carry their cross with bravery.
“I don’t have any discouragement about what I’m going through, because I remember the Lord Jesus Christ and how He suffered for me. If He suffered that much for me than what I’m suffering is nothing.”
Thankfully Moses and his family aren’t alone in their work. Thanks to your prayers and support, Moses and Naomi were able to attend a couples training organised by Open Doors local partners. This has helped to strengthen their marriage after the many trials they have been through together. You also helped make it possible for Moses to attend persecution preparedness training, which has helped him greatly in his ministry work.
“Through attending this training, I came to know and learn how to overcome temptation, and also that I should prepare for persecution.”
Moses and Naomi are one of the many believers in Asia who are choosing Jesus and standing strong for His name in places that are deeply embedded with animistic and traditional belief systems. It’s Christians like them who wave the flag high of Jesus’ light where darkness and confusion reign.
They continue to need assistance to help shine the light of Christ in the darkness. You can continue to help them do so by partnering with Open Doors! Your support will help believers living in Buddhist and animistic areas to stand strong in their faith – no matter the cost. You will also help make sure that though they are persecuted, that they are never alone. Click here to support them today.
*Names changed for security purposes.