FBR REPORT: “We have been captured, our churches burned, but we will not give up.”
Karen State, Burma
18 April, 2008

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your encouragement and your care for the people of Burma. We would like to share this story with you about two pastors who were captured, tortured and their churches burned. They and the people of their villages have not given up. We first came here on a relief mission in 2002 after the Burma Army had killed 12 villagers including 8 children and burned these churches as well as homes.

When we arrived at Kaw Keh village in June 2002, we met some of the villagers that had come back from their hiding places. This was two months after the church had been burned in April 2002. They told us that the pastor had been tied up and beaten and all the villagers forced to watch as their church was burned down. The pastor was then taken away and held captive by the Burma Army for 4-1/2 months before he was released. We took a picture of the burned church (shown below), and prayed for the release of the pastor who was then at the beginning of his third month of captivity. We wrote a letter to him as well as gave money to his family so they could send him food in prison. Now, on this mission in April 2008, we came back to the same area. The pastor was waiting for us and thanked us for our prayers and help at the time of his captivity. He said that he wanted to stay on as the pastor in this area so that people wouldn’t lose their faith. He said that even though he expected to be captured again and the village attacked again, he was happy to be the pastor and glad to lead his people on. Now, when I saw him for the first time, I went and embraced him and said a prayer of thanks. I also thought of all those who had prayed for him when we first sent out the message of his capture in 2002. The pastor and people of Kaw Kae village are now rebuilding their church.

Burned church at Kaw Kae in 2002

From this village we went on to the village of Ti Da Blu, where another church had been burned down, also in 2002. We talked to the pastor who told us that the villagers were forced to go into the church by the Burma Army while he and two others were tied to the posts below the church. The villagers were held captive like this with little food or water for five days. Every day three Burma Army soldiers beat the pastor’s head with a pistol. During the day they would tie him outside in the sun and wrap his head in plastic. They also cut his ear with a knife and cut the skin on his throat as they questioned him and threatened to kill him. During one of the nights while he and the two others were tied to the posts below the church, he said that one of the men was able to work his ropes free. But the pastor said, “Don’t try to escape. If we three escape what will happen to those up in the church?.” So they remained tied until the Burma Army moved the villagers out of the church and then burned the church down. The pastor and the two men were then taken away and held for 4-1/2 months in prison.

We had come by this village in 2002 as we were accompanying 96 people who were fleeing a forced relocation site and trying to get to a refugee camp across the border. Then, the people of this village were in hiding and we spent one night with them.

Now at Ti Da Blu village, the church has been completely rebuilt next to the burned church. When we asked the pastor why they kept the burned pillars of the church clear of jungle growth, he said, “We want it to be as a memorial to what happened. This is my home, this is my congregation and it is my duty to serve my people as a pastor. So I will stay. If we have to have to suffer we will suffer together. If we are free we are free together.”

God Bless you,
A Relief Team Leader
Free Burma Rangers
Dooplaya District, Karen State, Burma

Pastor at site of burned Kaw Kae church . Apr 15 08
Pastor See Pa Thru (Praise) at burned and new church at Ti Da Blu. 16 Apr 08