Abducted Pastor, Who Was Presumed Dead, Released by Arakan Army
By ICC’s Myanmar Correspondent
03/27/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) rejoices at the news that Burmese pastor U Tun Nu, who was abducted by the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State and presumed dead, was released on March 8, 2020, after 14 months of detention.
U Tun Nu was a pastor at Believers Church Myanmar before he was abducted at gunpoint in January 2019. Gospel for Asia, the nonprofit mission organization that worked closely with him, confirmed his death on February 1.
However, ICC learned that Pastor U Tun Nu is alive and was released recently. In an interview, he shared his hallowing experience with ICC. On the night before his release, the chief of the squad who administered him summoned and informed him that he would be released the next morning. The soldiers brought him out and handed him over to the village elders, who were so excited to see him. Some even cried, he recounted.
After his release, he did not contact anyone and stayed in his village for two days. He quietly moved to the state’s capital, Sittwe, before heading to Yangon the next day, so that he could be reunited with his wife and his youngest daughter on March 14. He and his family are currently staying with relatives and are eager to start a new chapter of their lives.
His wife told ICC that she has been waiting for her husband and praying for him every night for his return. Now that he has returned, she will ask him to focus on mission work only, forgoing other work. For months, people were saying with surety that her husband was already dead and that she was just in denial. However, she stated time and again to ICC her prayer request for her husband’s safe return. When all his acquaintances thought he went to be with the Lord, him coming back alive after 14 months is truly a miracle.
U Tun Nu said, “Those 14 months were the [most] hellish time of my life, be it spiritually, mentally and in particular physically. Sometimes I even prayed to God that I could not stand any longer and asked God to just take my life.”
U Tun Nu recalled that one day, one of the AA soldiers tripped on a stone, accidentally discharging the gun in his possession. The moment he heard the “bang!” sound right behind him, he heard a voice in his head saying, “You are protected by God, and no harm will come to you.” When he opened his eyes, he saw a big hole on his shirt under his arms, yet there was no wound on his body. He came out unharmed.
People around him often questioned his God and mocked him, “Ask your God to come and save you.” During the 14-month ordeal, he survived on one plate of plain rice and one liter of water per day, living on the front line of the intense civil war in Myanmar, with a radio device as his only connection to the outside world. His release is the best answer to those taunting questions as he witnesses God’s way of saving him from harm.
Pastor U Tun Nu is now preparing to rejoin the Believers Church elsewhere, since staying and working in Rakhine State is no longer safe for him. He is still in the process of figuring out where to resettle and start his missions work again. He is asking for prayers for him to be able to find his mission field where God commends him and his family.