This week two of the villages we have been in close relation to for 14 years were burned to the ground by the Burma Army. The school and church in the larger village were among the biggest in the Karen State and were beautiful wooden structures set on a bamboo fringed hill. Below the hill and beyond the village stretched some of the most productive rice fields is the area. The villages have withstood many attacks and the church and school were not only well constructed, they were works of art. They were built by the community as places of worship and learning and where the community gathered to celebrate and share the joys of life.
Now the villages, church and school have been destroyed and the stench of the rotting carcasses of livestock killed by the attackers fill the air.
“We do not want to go back to rebuild, how can we?”, were the words of one villager. “We had our whole lives here in the village, the school, and church and now it is all gone. Gone too are our livestock, chickens, pigs, goats, cows and water buffalo. We do not know what to do. “
I was told all of this by satellite phone and it was painful to hear and what was even worse was that we were not close enough to give immediate help. We could only pray and start sending relief supplies for teams in that area to help.
Yesterday there was a meeting between the villagers and the local leaders – the Karen resistance. Before the meeting a leader called me and told me the villagers were very sad and did not have any energy or desire to rebuild the villages. Many wanted to leave and never come back. We prayed together on the phone and asked for God’s help. The next morning those of us at a headquarters meeting prayed for the villagers.
Later on we received another satellite phone call. The local leader told me, “It was amazing, this morning we all gathered together at the foot of the village and prayed together. Then the villagers all agreed to stay and rebuild the village. And they decided the first thing they want to rebuild is the church. We start today.”
I thanked God and was filled with love and hope for our Karen families.
Thank you all too, for your prayers and for your help. We are sending in help through the FBR team there and Partners is also helping us in meeting the needs there.
I wanted to close with the letter we sent in to the people who are now rebuilding.
Love, Dave, family and teams
27 July 2010
Dear friends and family at Tha Dah Der and Tha Kaw To Baw,
We are praying for you and know God is with you. I am so sorry for what the Burma Army has done. It is evil. “Vengeance in mine says the Lord, I will repay “. These are God’s words.
We will do all we can, we have already sent out the news all over the world and I will be there to see you after we finish the other missions.
Now we are sending in whatever we can, tarps, blankets, and medicine.
We also are sending money for the new church, school and for some food. We are sending out the story and hope that many people who love you will send more help.
The work of God is to build up, the work of the devil is to tear down. Don’t worry, God will help you rebuild and those who tear down will themselves be torn down. We are inspired and filled with joy and hope that you have already started to rebuild the church and your village. We love you and thank God for your faith, perseverance, generosity and love. We will help you rebuild.
Ta U Wa, Tha Thoo Poe, Baw Tho Po, Tha-u Wa -A Mo, all the teams and I love and pray for you and look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, don’t give up, we and others will help you and most of all God is with you. God was willing to send Jesus into the world to save us and people took this gift and killed Jesus. But Jesus rose again and is our salvation. God loves us that much. So God is not afraid to suffer, we do not need to be afraid either. He will lead you and bless you and remind you that, “What man means for evil God will bring for good. Genesis 50:19-21
We love you and are behind you,
God bless you,
Tha U Wa A Pa, family and teams
(below is the initial report of the attack)
FBR REPORT: Burma Army burns villages and chases over 900 people into the jungle, attacks continue in Northern Karen State 24 July 2010
Karen State, Burma
24 July, 2010
The Burma Army is now attacking villages in Papun (Muthraw) District, Northern Karen State, burning two villages and chasing 916 people into he jungle. Two Burma Army battalions, LIB 370 and LIB 361 continue the attacks.
On July 23, 2010 at 11:00 am, the two Burma Army Battalions approached The Da Der village. The villagers fled. Before entering they shelled 41 mortar rounds into the village. At 2:00pm one Battalion remained on top of the hill above the village while the other entered the village and started looting and burning homes in the upper section. As of today- 24 July, at 1200 noon. (Thai time) the troops are still occupying the village. From Tha Da Der, over 600 people have had their property destroyed and are displaced. They have joined with 300 more villagers from the neighboring areas who have fled for protection but whose villages have not yet been attacked. Families from the villages of Htee Mu Der, Hta Koh Ta Ba, Khee Ti Hta, Thoo Kho Kee, are with the families from The Da Der staying in the Tha Oh Der adding an influx of almost over 900 (now almost 1000) persons to that village area. Burma Army troops from a different camp (Maw Kyo) have also been assisting in the attack of the village by shelling into the area from another direction. The present location of the strategic commander is Kyu Lu camp. The houses of Tha Da Der villager as well as this in the village of Ti Baw Lah, have been burnt to the ground. Most of the families in these crisis areas fled their homes in advance of the Burma Army attack and no casualties have been reported. The rains are now here and those in hiding need, security, shelter, food and medicine.
One FBR team is currently with the displaced people helping to coordinate assistance. The Burma Army continues to attack.
Thank you for your prayers and care,
God bless you,
A relief team leader
Free Burma Rangers