This update from our friends in Myanmar, where violence is ongoing, is an urgent call to prayer:
We heard our friend was in trouble on the same day violence erupted in Rakhine State in Myanmar where he was working.
His wife had talked to him on the phone as gun fire and explosions echoed down the line. He's a U.S. Christian friend of ours from church working in MaungDaw for an INGO with some of the most marginalised and oppressed people in the world - the Muslim minority Rohingya.
Since the conflict restarted a few weeks ago, thousands of people have probably been killed. Hundreds of thousands of people from all local ethnic groups - but particularly the Rohingya – have fled for their lives. The accounts, from both sides, of killings, burnings and brutality are harrowing. The videos and pictures shared online are numbing in their horror.
Our friend managed to evacuate with other foreign aid workers while organised violence and killings quickly spiralled out of control around them. In the end he managed to escape, but many of the people he worked alongside - and many of the people he served - did not.
"...We are all God's children, all of us are his beloved..."
He bumped into a local journalist just after he returned to safety in Yangon (the former capital of Myanmar) and he told him what he'd seen. Within hours of his story being published, toxic hate and vitriol on social media led to death threats against him and the real possibility of prosecution by the Government under a law introduced just hours before, to clamp down on dissent. Our friend had to leave the country, hounded out simply because he served and spoke up for a people he loves, but whom many others hate.
At times like these I cling to the fact that we are all God's children, all of us are his beloved - even those that hate, kill and persecute others.
Those of us in Yangon, though far from the fighting, wanted to come together and pray, but, last week, the Government banned us from doing so. In a move that targets all non-Buddhist faiths, the any non-registered faith groups have been banned from meeting, worshiping or praying together. The pretext is to prevent tension between Muslims and Buddhists, but the impact has been that many churches and Christian groups have also been targeted and told to stop meeting. This includes the church we're a part of.
So, what do you do when they ban you from worshipping and praying?
We decided to meet together to worship and to pray as usual. Not as some empty statement or gesture, but because prayer is revolutionary; maybe one of the only truly revolutionary acts that we can engage in together if we truly want to change the world.
So please pray for the people of Myanmar, and for us:
- Pray for peace and justice in Rakhine, that the militants, military, police and militias would put down their weapons and stop the killing. Pray that justice is done and that God's Kingdom can break through and bring reconciliation.
- Pray for the victims and those fleeing right now in fear of their lives. Pray that they would find shelter and safety. Pray that Governments and the military would allow aid agencies and help to get through to those in desperate need. Pray also for those taking part in the violence and killing; that they would know God, and be brought to real repentance and change.
- Pray for the politicians and leaders in this country - that they would be wise and merciful. Pray that the wave of violent Buddhist nationalism, the growing Islamic insurgency and the poison in public debate would be drained and dissipate; that mercy and compassion would come in their place.
- Pray for Christians and those of other faiths: that they would be able to meet, pray and worship without fear or threat. And pray that Christians would be able to continue to stand up and live out their faith publically in Myanmar: speaking, working and praying to bring in God's Kingdom.
Find out more about Christianity and Myanmar on our Persecuted Church pages.
Photo Credit: Guilherme Romano on Unsplash