Christians in Myanmar are asking “Please don’t forget about us,” as the latest developments in the country’s recent upheaval see the democratic movement say they will revolt against the military government.
Acting president of the National Unity Government of Myanmar, Duwa Lashi La, made an announcement on 7 September that they are taking back the Myanmar government from the military rule it has been under since February 2021. He called on the citizens to revolt against the military and initiate a nationwide uprising in every village, town, and city in a ‘defensive war’.
"Since the beginning of the coup, the people of Myanmar have been suffering from instability and violence" Brother Lwin
“Since the beginning of the coup, the people of Myanmar have been suffering from instability and violence,” says Brother Lwin*, a local Open Doors partner. “Churches have been destroyed in attacks – both in airstrikes and on the ground – and a sense of fear and trepidation has covered us.
“Now that the democratic government has announced ‘D-day’, we are set to face even more bloodshed. We are unsure about how long this fighting will last, but please keep our people in your prayers. Please do not forget about us.”
Since the military takeover in February, Myanmar has plunged into chaos. For some believers, the constant fighting has become their new normal. Fal*, a local believer shares: “The announcement is not shocking to me, as I have been hearing bomb blasts. I don’t know how much gunpower the National Unity Government or the people have, and how long the fight will continue or last.”
With the announcement, Brother Lwin says reactions from the church vary: “Some are hoping that this uprising will usher in some peace, while the majority are still afraid this will bring more problems and even more persecution. As it is, some churches are being forcefully occupied by the military. People are afraid and feel defenceless, and many are still afraid that there will be more challenges up ahead. There is already a scarcity of commodities, and the prices of goods are soaring. We also see the worsening situation for those who are fleeing their homes for safety.”
"Many believers are asking for Bibles and they are turning to God for help" Brother Lwin
Covid-19 continues to have a significant impact in the country, and Brother Lwin says it is not being properly addressed. Christians recognise that they are at risk both from the virus and from the military – at the same time, Brother Lwin is seeing faith rise among believers for God to act.
“This situation is bringing the church on their knees asking the Lord to intervene,” he says. “Many believers are asking for Bibles and they are turning to God for help. This pandemic and military coup have brought many believers closer to God and we praise God for that. Yet some are feeling that this threat is going on for too long and crying out to God, saying ‘How long, O Lord?’”
On the ground, citizens felt a renewed sense of panic. Our local partner Min Naing* described the situation: “People are going out to buy food and stocking up on groceries and medicine. The security forces are out in the streets and they have really intensified checking people. We will not be able to go out in the coming days.”
Sally*, an Open Doors local contact living near an area of particularly intense conflict, shares that the prices of commodities have escalated: “The price of rice has increased almost twofold. People from surrounding villages have already fled from their homes as the bombs destroyed their villages. Electricity is becoming irregular. They might cut our electricity and internet. In one of the conflict-torn areas, they have already cut off the internet for the past few weeks.”
Contacts have also shared with Open Doors that military are forcing thirty men from each village to sign up for the military. Many men have fled to the jungles or even become refugees to avoid being forced to fight.
"We can hear gunshots, bomb blasts and shelling" Jim, a local Christian
“The military is invading our area, and there have been gunfights going on since this morning,” says Jim*, a local believer. “We can hear gunshots, bomb blasts and shelling. Military forces are fighting the People’s Defence Forces and other armed groups in one of the villages where believers are living; I know the believers there. They will fight again tonight.”
Brother Lwin urges the church to intercede: “The situation in Chin State, Kachin and Karen States is getting worse. The military seems to be targeting these areas where most of the people are Christians. Please pray for strength for the believers, especially in these areas. Pray for the provision of food and shelter, and protection from harm. Please pray for strength to persevere in this situation. Many unbelievers are also now open to the gospel. Please pray for Christians to take this opportunity to share the gospel and be salt and light – pray for God to give them courage and wisdom to persevere in the midst of this suffering.”
*Names changed for security reasons
Dear Lord, You are the God of peace, so we join Brother Lwin in praying for the safety of believers in the conflict and war-torn areas. You are the God who loves to provide for His children, so please give them shelter and food. You are the God who loves people to turn from their wickedness and live, so we ask that unbelievers, including those fighting, would see the truth of the gospel and turn to You. Amen.
Explore Among the Ashes, a new film and prayer resource for churches from Open Doors. It looks at how the biblical principle of lament can bring us hope and comfort, even in the darkest situations.
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