Outspoken Baptist Preacher Assassinated by Three Unidentified Men

Outspoken Baptist Preacher Assassinated by Three Unidentified Men

A murder in South Asia may have added another name to the two-centuries-old list of martyred Christians.

According to Radio Free Asia, on March 18, three unidentified assailants shot and killed 47-year-old Baptist pastor Nammye Hkun Jaw Li in war-torn Myanmar’s northern state of Kachin.

A husband, father of three and former executive in the Kachin Baptist Convention, Li had led anti-drug and anti-military protests.

In other words, he made powerful and ruthless enemies.

Though suspects were not identified, anonymous sources close to Li’s family called the attack an assassination, Radio Free Asia reported.

One source described what happened when the gunmen entered Li’s computer shop in Mogaung township.

“Three men came and said they wanted to print on vinyl and shot him dead. They shot him in his stomach twice, and when he did not die, they also shot him in the head,” the person said.

If Li did indeed perish at the hands of gunmen acting on behalf of Myanmar’s ruling military junta, then he became another casualty in a 3-year-old civil war between the junta and a number of regional rebel groups, including the Kachin Independence Army.

In February 2021, the junta overthrew the democratically elected government of Myanmar, formerly Burma. Since then, more than 4,000 people have lost their lives in a civil war that has created nearly 3 million refugees, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

But rebel groups have made progress this year, which could explain the timing of Li’s apparent assassination.

“The resistance groups have never been so strong against the junta,” one rebel commander said. “There is some sort of coordination between the resistance groups, and we are working towards making it better and much stronger with one aim — to throw the junta out of power and restore democracy.”

Coordination of interests and objectives has never been easy in a country populated by hundreds of ethnic groups. Thus, Myanmar’s future — democratic or otherwise — remains in doubt.

For this story’s full significance, however, one must look not to the future but to the past.

From the first Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-26 to the eve of World War II, the British ruled Burma as part of India. Burmese independence from British control came on Jan. 4, 1948.

Thanks to their long connection with the British Empire, the people of Burma — now Myanmar — learned about Christianity.

Although nearly three-fourths of modern Myanmar residents adhere to Buddhism, nearly 8 percent profess Christianity.

That number increases substantially in the northern states. In Li’s Kachin, for instance, roughly 34 percent of the people are Christians, per the Union of Catholic Asian News. The junta has targeted Christian villages and churches there.

Likewise, according to The Christian Post, Christians comprise an outright majority in Chin state, southwest of Kachin. There the junta “finds a target-rich environment for its operations.”

Small wonder, therefore, that the people of Chin and Kachin states have rebelled against a military junta that persecutes Christians.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)

Li sought righteousness in a wicked world. Now, he has found peace with his Savior.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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