“LOVE EACH OTHER.
UNITE AND WORK FOR FREEDOM, JUSTICE, AND PEACE.
FORGIVE AND DON’T HATE EACH OTHER.
PRAY WITH FAITH, ACT WITH COURAGE, NEVER SURRENDER.”
The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement working to bring help, hope and love to people in the conflict zones of Burma, Iraq, and Sudan. Working in conjunction with local ethnic pro-democracy groups, FBR trains, supplies, and later coordinates with what become highly mobile multipurpose relief teams. After training these teams provide critical emergency medical care, shelter, food, clothing and human rights documentation in their home regions.
The situation in Burma is as complex as it is long. Over 60 years of civil war have left Burma one of the poorest countries in the world. During this time, successive military dictatorships killed thousands of their own people and displaced millions in resistance areas. The resulting power vacuum has created a situation ripe for drug cultivation, child soldiers, acts of possible genocide, and starvation.
In recent years the government of Burma has taken many positive steps, including the election of a civilian government under the National League of Democracy (NLD). However, the Burmese military still retains significant political power, and they have yet to resolve many of the ongoing internal conflicts. With the world focused on the change in government, human rights abuses including rapes, murder, indiscriminate airstrikes, and kidnapping still continue to be reported in areas being attacked and occupied by the Burma Army.
Dear praying friends, Thank you for how you pray with faith and love. This past year the people of Burma have suffered many injustices: the murder, rape, and burning of villages and displacement of over 600,000 Rohingya people, the ongoing attacks against the Kachin, Ta’ang and northern Shan, the encroachment of the Burma military in ceasefire areas and the lack of care by the government for people who have been wronged.
During this time indigenous relief teams have responded in love and with help as best they can. We see relief teams bringing life-saving care to the displaced, pastors comforting their people and praying for justice and love, new medics and teachers being trained in the jungle to help their people, and the international community sounding the alarm for help for the oppressed. All these are answers to prayer in the face of evil.
In some ways Burma has improved. There is a civilian elected government and more freedoms in some areas, but the military holds ultimate power and uses it. We pray for the military to have a change of heart and for the elected government to have the courage to stand for all who are oppressed.
In the midst of this some from Burma have also been called to help in Iraq and Syria because of ISIS attacks there. How did people from Burma get to the Middle East and what does it have to do with Burma? We were invited because people knew we could help in war zones and we went because we believe God has no boundaries to helping each other.
In the bloody crucible of Mosul, Iraq, my family, volunteers, and some of our senior FBR ethnics from Burma learned lessons that we want to share in Burma and everywhere. These are not new lessons but they were burned into us by the desperate situations we saw, our dependency on God, and the spiritual battle we saw overarching the physical battle.
In the midst of this God showed us four things.
First, wherever Jesus sends you, He goes with you. So when we are afraid we can pray and ask, “Jesus is this really your will?” Then if it is still a ‘yes’, go boldly in His name and use His name to overcome evil.
Second, when faced with great evil, we sinful humans cannot defeat it. But if we are following Jesus and call on His name, He comes through our weakness and brings good out of the clutches of evil.
Third, what is the difference between justice and vengeance? I believe vengeance is an attempt to get justice with a spirit of hate and retribution. When you suffer injustice, the hurt can cause you to hate the perpetrator and to equate their hurt with justice — but hate will cripple you if you search for justice this way, and justice will elude you. Justice can only be achieved with love and mercy. This means when you are wronged you pray for love for the perpetrator and you seek justice in that love. We need God’s help to love those who wrong us, to love our enemies — but when we pray and ask for this love He helps us. This may mean punishment for the person who wronged you but it will be done in a spirit of love. This spirit keeps us free and leads towards reconciliation.
Four, we experienced the power of the praying church and believe that God’s power through prayer is the only way to achieve freedom, justice, reconciliation and love. In Burma as in other places there is hate, murder, and all manner of injustice. The way forward is to pray and ask Jesus to help us love and help us know where to go, how to go and what to do. And then wherever He sends us, Jesus goes with us, so we can go humbly, boldly and in His love.
Thank you for praying with us for all the people of Burma. God bless you.
Christians Concerned for Burma