Saturday, December 31, 2005

Nestorians from country to country – a jewel of pure Christianity

Nestorians from country to country – a jewel of pure Christianity

This article, from a non-Nestorian source, while with a few errors, is a very nice outline and introduction to the Nasrani Nestorian Faith.


Nestorians from country to country – a jewel of pure Christianity

(Translated off a radio program in Israel. Read by Eli Marx, an independent journalist who travels around the world writing about minorities, tribes and different ethnic groups.)

“You have probably never heard of the “Nasrani Church of the East” unless you have traveled to India or Myanmar. The Nasrani Church of the East and Abroad (also known in modern times as The Nestorian Orthodox Church) was founded in the first century A.D. by migrants who had been expelled from Jerusalem in 135 A.D. These were descendants from the family of Mary and Joseph who eventually migrated to Southeast Asia. Their church now has communities all over the world.

The Nasrani Nestorians have been persecuted in almost every country they attempt to settle and are denied their own state anywhere they travel. These Orthodox Nestorians look to their church for a quintessence of national identity.

Two years ago their church leader Patriarch Michai assisted in the purchase of land along the border between Thailand and Myanmar. This instantly gave a home to refugees from Karen, Mon and surrounding states. However as of to date no government entity has recognized their new country called Nettara, an Aramaic word meaning, "protected." In fact, the government of Myanmar has been very successful in spreading propaganda concerning their classification of the Nestorians along the border. Their campaign states the inhabitants of this geographical area are nothing more than farmers and dealers of cocaine products. Some have referred to the area as the "cocaine capital of the world" - the Golden Triangle. Those who have believed this propaganda state Nettara is a nonentity.

Traveling to Thailand three weeks ago I was able to see some of the people of the “Nestorian homeland” as they refer to it now. They have shops on their eastern border selling trinkets, wooden carvings of elephants, tigers and religious symbols. I interviewed two of the vendors who spoke broken English. I then spoke to several others in Hebrew, which they were able to understand since their national language is analogous.

The people of Nettara are real and their state is real. Their blood is real and the Burma Army has spilled it on more than one occasion. I heard stories of the Nettara people being raped and plundered by military officers from Myanmar; one elderly lady told me her grandchildren had become displaced after being kidnapped by two officers of the Burma Army. “If it were not for our Catholicos I never would have seen my babies again,” she told me.

The Catholicos Patriarch of the Nestorian Orthodox Church has recently made some minor agreements with Croatia, Armenia, Turkey, and Kazakhstan in providing peaceful refugee communities that are open only to members of their church.

History and facts tell us the Nasranis are the only Nestorian Church on earth. The Assyrian Catholics of Iraq are referred to as “Nestorians” by scholars in the West but this is a misnomer for Assyrians and they deny the name. The Nasrani Church of the East is the only church that is known appropriately as “Nestorian” but not according to the Western definition of the term.

They will continue to travel from country to country with their Nestorian missionary spirit and the world will continue to choose to ignore this great nation. What the world will miss by their preference of ignorance is alarming. For what lies within the Nasrani Church is a jewel of pure Christianity as in the days of first century Galilee and Nazareth.”