Since the military coup at the beginning of February, protests and violence have broken across the country. Our partners update us on what’s happening on the ground.
”We don’t want the junta, we want democracy. We want to create our own future.” Those are the words of one of the protestors at a large rally in Myanmar and they echo the desire of many hearts in this land.
On 1st February, the military staged a coup, arresting Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders from the ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). Since then, crowds have gathered, peacefully demanding the results of the landslide November election be honoured and the country continue on the democratic path it has pursued since 2015.
But the military’s response has not been peaceful. Two days before her 20th birthday, one female protestor received a head injury from a soldier’s bullet at a protest in the capital, Naypyidaw. Several days later, she succumbed to her injuries. Her sister called on all citizens to join the protests to ‘get rid of this system’.
Myanmar has been thrust before the eyes of the world, but reports have not explained how this political tussle might impact the church. One worker in the country explained to us that the military is no friend of the gospel. Prior to the democratic transition of 2015, the military junta persecuted believers. The old adage that ‘to be Burmese is to be Buddhist’ – a threat which seemed to recede under the NLD – has returned. Now the future is uncertain.
As sovereign King, Christ will extend His Kingdom to all nations whatever the form of government. But our brothers and sisters have reason to be concerned, and they need and value our prayers.
After the coup, our partner was able to contact some local pastors to encourage them. However, this ministry of oversight relies on telephone and internet connections which could be cut off without warning, and whilst internal travel was already restricted under COVID–19 regulations, generals may use these restrictions as a cover for maintaining power. This would leave rural churches isolated from wider fellowship for even longer periods.
Believers must be careful in evangelism in this Buddhist–majority nation. Will there be an upsurge in persecution? Will church planting become more difficult as a result? For the moment, the Bible College in Yangon continues to train men and women for ministry throughout the country but an enforced closure is not beyond the realms of possibility.
There are many internally displaced persons within Myanmar and many more have crossed the border into Thailand, coming primarily from ethnic minority groups. For such people, our partners offer safety, education and biblical teaching. However, an increased number of military attacks in the border areas are making this ministry increasingly difficult.
Active in prayer
We are reminded in times of uncertainty that we are not in control of world events. We must also remind ourselves, though, that God is not taken aback by that which causes us surprise. He is the Lord of history and is working out His purposes. The gates of hell cannot keep out the advancing Kingdom of Christ!
All the same, we are not to sit back and merely admire. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Myanmar, that their faith may not fail and that the gospel might continue to go forth for God’s glory. We do not ‘create our own future’ but trust Him who promises a great inheritance in Christ. That is the ultimate hope of the church in Myanmar and across the world.
HOW TO PRAY
· Pray that Myanmar would return to democratic rule soon.
· Pray for those under threat from the military, that they would be kept safe.
· Lift up our brothers and sisters in remote areas who may be cut off from wider fellowship for some time.
· Ask God to uphold and prosper the work of evangelism and church planting in Myanmar.
· Pray for those working with displaced people within Myanmar and across the border into Thailand, that their ministry would not be inhibited by increased military action and restrictions.
Recently, we have been able to provide relief through our partners to people suffering under military oppression through our Action Fund. You can donate to this fund by clicking below.