Presbyterian General Assembly 2023: Livestream halted for Iran and Myanmar interviews due to sensitive situations
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The situation arose when elders and ministers from 525 congregations across the island gathered in Belfast at the weekend for their Annual General Assembly. The leaders listened to overseas partners from Malawi, Myanmar, Syria, and Iran.
Rev Ivan Steen of Windsor Presbyterian Church in Belfast, interviewed a member of his congregation - who became a Christian in Iran - about the challenges of living out his faith in the Islamic Republic and why he had to leave.
While the individual concerned was present in the Presbyterian church buildings and was interviewed live, the live stream on the church website was suspended in order to protect his identity.
A leader in the church in Myanmar gave a live interview from his home country about the pressures there, but again, the broadcast was suspended. The church said this was "an indication of the sensitive situations in both countries".
A military junta formed by a coup d’état in Myanmar in 2021 obliterated many freedoms and a civil war rages on as a result. The anonymous senior church leader from Myanmar said: “The fighting happens from time to time in the middle of the town, among the civilians. We have been hearing the gun firing and mortar shelling sounds almost every night…Moreover, at night-time there is curfew, which has been in place since the declaration of Marshall Law. We need to remain indoors. When a health emergency happens, people find it very difficult. So the situation in Myanmar is not good."
Talking about some of the challenges in his local area, he continued, “There are situational challenges in our country which my church could not refuse to give responses. Because of the unrest situation in my place, bombing [and] shooting happens from time to time. Therefore helping refugees, taking care of the injured people and even comforting the bereaved families are undeniable ministries our church has been doing for months.”
However, as a result more than 300 people joined their church in the past year.