Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin – No. 368 – Wed 08 Mar 2006
BURMA (MYANMAR): GLOBAL DAY OF PRAYER – 12 MARCH
BURMA – NATION IN CHAOS
Today, after half a century of continual conflict and chaos,
Burmese citizens live under one of the most brutally repressive
regimes in the world. Whilst Burma’s military junta is defined by a
mix of Buddhist and Marxist thought, its real interest is power,
not ideology. Meanwhile many of Burma’s ethnic minorities have
large Christian communities and are pro-democracy. The Karen,
Burma’s largest ethnic minority – around 20 per cent of the
population – are 40 percent Christian. Christianity is dominant
amongst the Kachin of the north and the Chin and Naga of the west,
and is widespread amongst the Karenni and Karen of the war-wracked
east. Burma’s military dictatorship brutally and decisively crushes
all dissent, but active insurgencies are continuing in the Shan,
Karenni and Karen eastern states. Burma’s army is infamous for its
gross human rights abuses which include forced labour, rape,
killings, beheadings, the mutilation of bodies and the use of
terror squads. Burma’s internal conflicts have created over a
million IDPs (internally displaced people) forced to be constantly
on the move through dense jungle, as well as more than a million
refugees, mostly in camps in neighbouring countries.
PLEASE PRAY FOR:
* a miracle of peace to Burma, from our Creator God who brought
order to chaos and light to darkness, from our Sovereign God who
rules over the nations and holds the hearts of ‘kings’ in his
hands. (Isaiah 40:12-26; Proverbs 22:1) May peace, not power, be
the heart desire of all Burmese, especially those in positions of
influence and authority. And may peace be accompanied by wisdom,
justice, grace and reconciliation.
BURMA – CHURCH UNDER ATTACK
In the mid-1960s nearly all foreign missionaries were expelled and
all private schools and hospitals, mostly run by Christian
missions, were nationalised. Today, Burma’s registered church has a
limited religious freedom. The government imposes restrictions on
witness, the building and repair of church property and the
importation and distribution of Christian literature. The
government monitors religious activity to ensure there is no talk
of human rights or democracy. Christians are frequently
discriminated against and persecuted ‘in the public interest’
because they mostly belong to the restive ethnic minorities.
Buddhism is strongly entrenched and is used by the regime as a
weapon against the ethnic minorities. The government is known to
fund and arm Buddhist militias to burn the churches and violently
persecute the Christians amongst the Karen and Karenni minorities.
These attacks form what is really a government-sponsored religious
offensive within a larger civil war.
PLEASE PRAY FOR:
* God to protect and nurture Karenni and Karen believers, forced
to live in constant fear and with abject poverty and hardship, as
they face brutal offensives from Buddhist militias and the Burma
army. (Isaiah 40:11)
* the Holy Spirit to fix the eyes of all Burma’s repressed and
suffering Christians firmly on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). ‘Consider
him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that
you will not grow weary and lose heart.’ (Hebrews 12:3) May Jesus
be their strength, direction and hope.
BURMA – IN GOD’S HEART
When Adoniram Judson, America’s first foreign missionary, arrived
in Burma in 1813 it was a hostile and totally unreached territory.
He was 24 and worked there for 38 years until his death at age 61.
Judson laboured for six years without any fruit. When berated for
his lack of results he replied, ‘The prospects are as bright as the
promise of God.’ His first convert Maung Nau was baptised on 27
June 1819. Judson persevered, but with little progress and
inconceivable, costly suffering. The first Karen Judson led to the
Lord in 1828 was Ko Tha Byu, a slave and hardened criminal. He
became a mighty evangelist who ultimately led to Christ multitudes
of Karen whom God had prepared to receive the gospel. But it was
in 1831 that Judson noticed a distinct change come over the land.
He observed: ‘A spirit of inquiry is spreading everywhere, through
the whole length and breadth of the land.’ The Holy Spirit moved in
power and many thousands of Burmese from right across the nation
sought and received salvation.
Less than 200 years later, Burma today has around four million
Christians – 8.7 per cent of the population. And the prospects for
Burma are still as bright as the promises of God.
* that God will revisit Burma with another special outpouring of
his Holy Spirit, that a ‘spirit of inquiry’ will once again
flood the land, so deep it reaches up into the high places of
government and military power.
* that God’s Spirit will bring deep conviction of sin to Burma,
that the killings and oppression might end with repentance and
For more information and resources <http://www.prayforburma.org/>
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE:
GLOBAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR BURMA ON SUNDAY 12 MARCH
The ruling military junta in Burma ruthlessly crushes all dissent
and is on the offensive against ethnic minority insurgencies. Many
of these pro-democracy minorities have large Christian communities.
The Karen people – nearly 20 per cent of Burma’s population – are
40 per cent Christian and like others are still fighting for self-
determination. Whilst the junta’s interest is power, not ideology,
it arms Buddhist militias to attack the Christians amongst the
restive ethnic groups – a government-sponsored religious war within
the larger civil war. This army offensive has created over a
million internally displaced people, many of whom are constantly on
the move through the dense jungles of eastern Burma. Many of those
suffering and dying are Christians. Please pray for peace with
justice in Burma, and for wisdom, grace, strength and provision for
Burma’s suffering Church. See also <http://www.prayforburma.org/>
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.