Loud voices jolt me awake. It's past midnight and I'm here in the Himalayan foothills of northern Myanmar illegally. Adrenaline pumping, I roll under the bed as shouts shake my hut's thin bamboo walls:
"Happy Christmas! Merry Christmas! Jesus Christ is born!"
I check my clock. 12:10 am on December 1st. Here in Kachin, the Christmas season has begun.
Unlike ethnic Burmese, who form the majority in Myanmar, the six tribes collectively known as Kachins are devout Christians. Their faith has bound the Kachins together as one people and helped them endure decades of repression, suffering and loss.
For me, a nominal Christian, living among the Kachins opened my eyes to the enduring power of religious faith...