31 Free Burma Ranger Teams Graduate Leadership Development and Relief Team Training18 January 2016 Karen State, Burma
On 11 December 2015, 27 new ranger teams and four advanced teams graduated at the Free Burma Rangers’ Tah U Wah Camp. This is double the number of teams we usually train and we thank God for these eager new rangers and the support to run this. The teams trained are from nine different ethnic groups and different religions in Burma. Arakan, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Padaung, Lahu, Naga, Pa-Oh, and Shan teams all trained together and began their first mission together on 12 December 2015.
Additionally, four Rangers – one Karen, Karenni, one Lahu and one Wa – asked to be baptized and the baptism took place after graduation ceremonies. This marked the 12th training to take place at Tah U Wah Camp, and also the largest. Local ethnic organizations continue to feel the need for improved capacity in helping their people and getting the news out from their areas. 137 rangers are geared up and motivated to do just that.
They completed a 10-week training program, which began with two weeks of intensive training in swimming, land-navigation and Good Life Club/chaplaincy/spiritual development. The training included instruction in: Ethnic Unity, Leadership Principles, Map Reading and Drawing, Compass Reading, Land Navigation, GPS (Global Positioning System) Use, Landmine Removal, Swimming and Lifesaving, Solar Power and Battery Management, Human Rights Violations Recording and Reporting, Operation Order Writing, SALUTE Reporting, General Reporting, Counseling, Video and Photography, Medical Training, Three Field Training Exercises, Physical Training, Rope Bridge Building, Poncho Raft, Rappelling, and Good Life Club Training.
Below is a reflection from an FBR volunteer on the significance of these new Rangers, and their place in God’s plan:
A few years ago I travelled to the beaches of Normandy to find the grave of my great uncle who died shortly after D-Day in 1944. On his grave was written, “There is music in the midst of desolation and a glory that shines upon our tears.” For me; this sums up Burma and the Free Burma Rangers. Every year young men and women come from all corners of Burma to attend ranger training. Tucked in between two mountains, Tah U Wah camp becomes home to the new Rangers for three months.
From before the sun rises until long after it sets, the Rangers push themselves – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. They learn to be part of a community, to pitch in and take care of more than just themselves. They learn to take the hard way instead of the easy way. Camp is also filled with hundreds of butterflies that, in many ways, reflect the character of these young Rangers. Physically the new rangers are stronger than most soldiers, yet it is with immense grace that they bring help, hope and love to their people. And as the butterflies dance effortlessly through this war zone, there is music that flows from these strong Rangers. Camp is full of music. Sometimes the music is the Rangers counting out push-ups or pull-ups in unison and other times it’s GLC songs being practiced. The Rangers are constantly singing or playing guitar.
Burma has faced many years of desolation. Longer than any other war, yet there really is music in the midst of desolation here. The Burma Army may oppress its people, but the music of help, hope and love is rooted deeper than anger or hatred toward the enemy. That music cannot be suppressed here. There have been many tears shed in Burma, and many tears shed in Ranger training, yet God’s glory shines upon Burma. God’s glory shines upon the Rangers who stand ready to continue to help people who are being oppressed.
Thank you for being in this with us and God bless you,
The Free Burma Rangers