Last week we received a report from some friends in Myanmar about the unfolding violence. Today, we received an update and a continued call to prayer:
There's an old Matt Redman song called "Can a nation be changed?" As I write and pray right now about my home, Myanmar, I cling to the belief that it can; that it must.
The global media has continued to report on what is happening in Rakhine state in the North West of Myanmar and the violence against and forced clearance of many different ethnic groups, but mainly the Rohingya people. Over half a million Rohingya have now fled Myanmar; half of them children.
The pictures in the media and elsewhere show violence and horror; traumatised and wounded people stripped of everything they own, huddled under makeshift shelters as the monsoon rains fall. Meanwhile, the bodies of the dead lie hurriedly buried beside the villages they once lived in as their homes continue to burn and smoulder.
The situation of the refugees is desperate. Aid agencies and governments are acting to help as much as they can – but so much more is needed. Many refugees in desperation will soon start to escape their camps; undertaking dangerous journeys with people traffickers, on ill-equipped boats and over perilous land crossings. Even if the violence stops, the repercussions of this tragedy are still far reaching, and far from over.
Meanwhile, across Myanmar, politicians, the media and the public expressly blame the Rohingya. They accuse aid agencies of supporting terrorism and violence; while often portraying the Rohingya as subhuman or evil. Last week an emergency aid convoy in Rakhine was attacked by a violent mob. And death threats are common against anyone who questions the official line on the crisis.
What is happening in Rakhine has been described by many as ethnic cleansing, with echoes of past conflicts in places like Rwanda and Bosnia there to see. Whether and how the international community will act is unsure.
As a Christian living in Myanmar I find I only have one real option now. To pray.
When I was younger, I believed that I’d be able to charge into a situation like this, bringing rescue or solutions. The reality of our human helplessness in the face of events means right now, all we can do is pray in the belief that a nation can be changed and that Jesus our Saviour is the one who can change it.
So join with us to continue to pray for Myanmar:
- Pray for peace and justice in Rakhine, that the militants, military and police would put down their weapons and stop the killing of the Rohingya and all violence against any group. Pray that God's Kingdom can break through to bring peace and reconciliation.
- Pray for those who have fled. Pray that they would find shelter and safety; that aid agencies would not be prevented from getting through to those in desperate need. Pray that people would not be exploited and abused by human traffickers but instead, find safety.
- Pray for those encouraging or taking part in the violence and killing- that they would encounter God, be changed and transformed.
- Pray for the politicians, leaders, media and the public in Myanmar. Pray they would be wise and merciful. Pray that the wave of violent Buddhist nationalism, the Islamic insurgency and the poison in public debate would cease; that mercy and compassion would come.
- Pray for Christians here, that they would stand up and proclaim God's kingdom. Pray also that Christians would be able to continue to meet, pray and worship without fear or threat.
- Over everything, pray for God's kingdom to break through here. That God’s will would be done and his peace would reign. That a nation would be changed. Amen.
Head to our Pray for the World webpages for practical ways to engage in prayer