By Donna Summerall
Not everyone in the world has it so easy. The Civitan Luncheon Club learned more than its share during its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, when Mike Pittman, president of “My Brother’s Cup” faith-based coffee company in Tupelo which contributes proceeds for mission trips to China shared some of his experiences overseas.
Pittman was part of a missionary group doing dental and medical work in China. China is a communist country, Americans sometimes forget that now that there is open trade, Pittman said. Most Chinese people are Buddhists, but the communist government does not approve of religion. The Dalai Lama was originally in a Tibetan monastery, but because of persecution from the government, he has gone into hiding in India, said Pittman. However, he said no religious group in China are more persecuted than Christians who are beaten, imprisoned and killed if caught having a church service. They are part of the “underground” church and often have Christian church services at midnight, according to Pittman.
Pittman has several people working for him in the mountains of Tibet growing coffee beans for “My Brother’s Cup.” This gives him a reason to be in China. He said often when entering the country he is asked “what is your business here?” He can truly state that he is a coffee grower and move about the country freely.
“I purchased a Tibetan Bible,” said Pittman. “They are almost non – existent due to religious persecution. I gave it to my friend who was head of an underground church behind a monastery. He couldn’t read it. He could only read Chinese. Only people very high up can learn to read the Tibetan language. The Bible was later in the hands of a Buddhist monk who had converted to Christianity at risk of his life and will someday start his own underground church. We Americans have no idea what persecution is. But with the attitudes in our government, I think that will change.”
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