We are now in the Karen State training new relief teams. This follows the training of Shan and Kachin teams in August in the Shan State. Those 8 new teams are now on missions to help the internally displaced.
Here in the Karen State, the Burma Army is continuing its offensive against the people and we hope that the new teams we are training will be able to help the displaced in the face of the attacks.
This morning I was praying about our role here. Along with training teams to give help, hope, love and to send out information, I felt the most important thing we had to offer the trainees was the encouragement to seek the highest things of life. To encourage them to aim for the highest standards of morality above all earthly causes.
From the beginning of the work here we have felt that sharing God’s love was the foundation of anything we do.This relationship is above all worthy causes and is also rudder by which to steer. In Burma we are willingly up to or necks in political waters-people’s yearning to be free, groups organized to that end, a dictators’ Army trying to crush these same people. We are in this because we feel that this is God’s place for us, we love these people and we feel the people of Burma have the right to live in justice. In this environment it is easy to focus on freedom or democracy as some kind of ultimate goal.
While it is always right to stand up for human dignity, the way that we that is also important.
For me it is a relationship of attempted obedience to God, prayer, scripture and advice from others, that helps me to proceed. Even then it is hard to know what the left and right limits are. We are glad we are not doing this alone, but need your prayers and are glad to have you on this team.
Amongst the new trainees, some team members are Christian, some are Buddhist, and some are animist. We try to share God’s love with them and at the same time let know clearly that anyone of any faith can be a Free Burma Ranger. When we first started, we did not ask , “Are you a Christian”? We only asked. “Who will go to help the people?” We only have three rules to belong to a FBR team;
1) Love- each must do this for the love of others- no one is paid.
2) Literacy- Due to the medical, reporting and other skills needed, each person must be able to read and write in at least one language.
3) Physical and moral courage- all team members must be able to walk long distances in the war zones. If people are trapped by the Burma Army, the team members can not run, they must stay with the people under attack no matter what happens.
Because of people like you, since 1997 we have been able to train 90 teams with 20 fulltime teams active in the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Arakan and Lahu areas of Burma. The teams have treated over 200,000 patients and helped over 400,000 people and have been able to be part of putting an international spotlight on Burma. Four of our team members have died (one from gunshot, one from landmine, one by drowning and one by sickness) and four have been shot and wounded.
We do hope that more and more teams can be trained and sent to help the oppressed and at the same time we want to be faithful to build up what is of eternal value. We ask for your prayers that we would be what God intends.
We are in a war zone where there are many shades of gray, and so we pray for enough light for each day. We do not want to be limited because we are afraid to do the wrong thing or for considerations of comfort or safety. We also do not want to bury our talents just because we don’t have confidence in our own abilities or faith. As Amy Carmichael wrote.”While we are counting the cost, Satan is busy buying up the territory.” We have already counted the cost and continually need God’s vision and boldness to stay on the right path. Thank you for your love, support and prayers and for being in this with us. God bless you, A Relief Team Leader FBR (The family is all here and are very well- thanks for your prayers for that too. Yesterday we were building a rope bridge across a big river and after I swam across with the rope, Karen followed. Amy and the kids were on shore.
The current was very fast due to the heavy rains here and Karen got swept away and went 200 yards over big rapids and over two smaller water falls, but amazingly came out not only alive but unscathed. A Karen team member, some of you know him as Koala Bear, and I went after her, but only her ability to hold her breath, not give up swimming and most of all what we believe was God’s help, saved her. When I got to her she said, “Wow, I almost died by
accident- I wasn’t even trying to help or save anyone- just cross a river”.
We thanked God together. It was another reminder that we do not have much control over life and death yet we grateful for every minute that God gives us. Thanks again, we love you.)