In the past week, I have been in correspondence with Wunna, a young man who is a new Christian believer from Burma. This coming Sunday, our friends and colleagues at Christians Concerned for Burma have designated March 9th as the Global Day of Prayer for Burma. (Please see www.prayforburma.org and read the uplifting report of Rev. Franklin Graham’s visit to the internal refugee camps in Burma.) Most of us know little about Burma. Burma, the largest nation in Southeast Asia, is desperately poor due to decades of mismanagement and corruption by an oppressive military government. Although richly blessed with natural resources, such as natural gas, most Burmese live on $1 or less per day. Two-thirds of Burma’s children are malnourished, and Burma has been afflicted by more than 60 years of civil war.
Although 80% of Burma’s population is Buddhist, many are also in bondage to spiritism and the occult. Approximately ten percent of Burmese are Christians. Of those, most Burmese Christians are found among the ethnic minorities, and they face great persecution for their faith. The Karen, Kachin, Shan, and Chin ethnic groups have been singled out for the harshest treatment by the national government. The importation of Bibles printed in indigenous languages and worship in house churches is prohibited.
Since an election in 2010, there has been some hope for change. On the positive side, many political prisoners were released, and Burma Army leaders have signed an agreement to end forced labor. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, and now holds a position in parliament. Although since that election, there have been reductions in the fighting and displacement of ethnic minorities, but new attacks, indiscriminate killing, and displacement of innocent villagers from a number of the ethnic groups continue. The Free Burma Rangers, who provide relief, mobile medical assistance to as many of the displaced as they can reach, as well as a Christian witness, report that 100,000 Kachin people have been displaced since 2011. In November and December 2013, the Burma Army attacked a Kachin refugee camp, and burned shelters, looted rice stocks, and displaced over 2,000 people who now had to flee again. Attacks continued in this area into January 2014. In northern Shan State, fighting and displacement continue against the Kachin, Shan and Ta’ang people throughout 2013 and into 2014. In Karen State, the Burma Army continues to use forced labor, and in December 2013, soldiers fired on villagers on nine different occasions in Luthaw Township, Muthraw District, in Northern Karen State.
This coming Sunday, I ask that you pray for the people of Burma. Please pray for my new friend Wunna as he begins his new walk with Jesus Christ, and also pray:
For peace in this war-torn land with genuine democracy and an end to the authoritarian military regime.
That the oppressed people not be governed by fear, but that they would receive faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to overcome the evil that ravage them, including forgiveness towards the evildoers.
That innocent Burmese villagers would finally receive relief from relentless persecution, both religious and otherwise.
That the Holy Gospel would continue to spread throughout Burma along with relief efforts.