Scale of Help
20 November 2022
Dear friends and family,
Thank you for all the help in Burma, Iraq, Syria, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and other places we are called. Due to the heavy fighting in Burma, we spent most of the time between this December through July on relief missions in Karen and Karenni states in Burma. The Burma military is coming with a viciousness, speed, and force we’ve never seen before. Over two million people are displaced in Burma and thousands have been killed. Since the coup last year, we have lost 15 of our own team and that is representative of the great losses faced in Burma. At the same time, there’s a new unity we have never before seen in Burma that cuts across political, social, religious, ethnic, racial and tribal lines. This unity between the people of Burma gives us hope that change is coming. We share about Jesus and that we need God‘s love to effect real and lasting change in Burma. Democracy without love will be like two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. As the people of Burma resist the attacks of the dictators and strive together to build a new Burma, we pray for God‘s love so that we’re not just united in what we’re against but we are united for love, justice, freedom, forgiveness, reconciliation and the building of a new Burma.
Along with our role of sharing God’s love we are able to give material assistance to people in need. On this last mission, it was gratifying to be able to say yes to almost every request. Whether it was treating wounded, transporting wounded for more advanced care, plastic tarps for shelter for those in hiding, school supplies, blankets, rice, stipends for teachers, ambulances, and vehicles to help support the displaced communities, wells, and water projects and the rebuilding of damaged churches, all of these we were able to help in some way. This is because of your generous support of our teams. The level of support we were able to give to people in desperate need would not have been possible without your help. It is wonderful to be able to say, “Yes – because people around the world love you, we can help you.” We also tell them, “Please trust in God, not us and pray to God for what you need and it is because of God that we get assistance and it is through people who love and care about you all over the world.” We had many joyous times together with people in their hiding places, singing songs, playing children’s games, impromptu dances, sports events, and worshiping God together — all this within earshot of gunfire, mortars, and artillery. The attacks of the Burma army could not quench the joy the people shared together. We were daily filled with gratitude for all of you who send support and I wanted to share a little bit about what we’ve been able to do and the scale of the assistance.
We have over 120 multi-ethnic Free Burma Ranger relief teams serving in the conflict areas of Burma. We are providing assistance all over Burma and the teams are doing a wonderful job bravely and humbly. They are not led by comfort, fear, or pride, but by love and the opportunities God gives them. This report uses the last Karenni mission as an example of how you are helping us help those in need all over Burma.
I’ll start with medical aid: because of your help, we were able to supply every clinic in Karenni State with one year’s supply of medicine. This support went to over 10 FBR relief teams doing mobile medical care all over Karenni State, to over 30 clinics providing relief for people in need, to five hospitals, and two different mobile public health service teams. The total cost for the year was $300,000 and because of your help, we are able to do it all. At one point we had already used up $100,000 and had no more money but we prayed and help came in in the form of $200,000 for medicine. We were able to purchase all the medical units and send them in by truck, boat, and foot to each place of need. Also because of your help, we were able to outfit three clinics with x-ray machines and generators to power them. This is life-saving as the doctors can perform advanced surgical procedures and save many lives.
One of those like saved was Silverhorn, one of our top medics and a Karen uncle who raised our children since they were babies. Silverhorn was with us as we were carrying out wounded under direct machine gun, rifle, RPG, and mortar fire. He was hit twice. One rifle bullet went right through his back and out his hip and shrapnel from an RPG went deep into his back. We ran through a hail of fire carrying him while trying to slow the loss of blood. We were able to get him to our casualty collection point. Here Eliya, Dr Myo, Sahale, and others stabilized him for further transport. Silverhorn had massive internal bleeding and it looked like he might die. From the casualty collection point we were able to move him further to a field hospital we support where there is one of the top orthopedic surgeons from Burma. Our son, Peter, with a Karen medic also named Peter attending to Silverhorn, drove at night four hours through the mountains to get to the hidden field hospital. The surgeon there had fled the murderous regime and had joined us in the jungle. He brought his world-class skills with him and began saving lives. He had an x-ray machine operated by generator and was able to find the fragment deep in Silverhorn’s back. In 11 hours of surgery, he removed the shell fragment and repaired the spleen. He also was able to take care of the gunshot wound that went through Silverhorn’s hip and out the front of his pelvis. Due to the x-ray and skills of the doctor, Silverhorn’s life was saved. This is one of the hundreds of casualties saved by this doctor and others who are helping us in the jungle.
After treatment, some of the more seriously are evacuated and neighboring countries. One was a young girl, Cherry Moo, who had a piece of mortar fragment lodged in her chest which had injured her heart. She needed a very complex surgery to remove that. We were able to transfer her by foot, vehicle, boat and foot and vehicle again to another country. Here we carried her up the final hill for the final ride to the hospital. Cherry Moo was taken to one of the top hospitals in the country and received the surgery and is now completely healed. What a blessing and what a miracle to be part of!
Support of schools: One area of work that we normally don’t provide much support is salaries for teachers, but because of the increased attacks and massive displacement, there are many teachers now in the jungle with no income. They teach the children in hiding places with whatever resources they can find. We were asked to supply teachers with a stipend of $20 a month. Because of your generosity we were able to help over 400 teachers for six months. We’ve never done that before and it was so gratifying to be able to help. Tears came to the teachers’ eyes and they told us thank you.
Food: Food supplies are something that we normally give but until recently we could only meet very limited needs. Now in every place we went we could fill in the gaps of providing rice for families in need. One sack of rice cost about $30 and feeds a family of four for a month. We were able to give rice to everyone that requested it, providing food for over 10,000 people. In another area, a local Catholic priest asked for a pickup truck to help move food supplies as well as sick displaced people that they were now takening care of. We were able to say yes and give them $8,000 for a used pickup truck. We were also able to help purchase two new pickup trucks at $30,000 each to be converted into ambulances. We also helped retrofit two bigger trucks to become mobile surgical stations. It’s important they are mobile because the Burma Army will bomb any hospital that they know of. These trucks have a generator-run air conditioning system, sterilization, and surgical suite, and are able to move to areas of need and keep hidden. Surgeries are preformed and then the trucks move again. This has saved hundreds of lives. We’re also able to support the local hospitals with medical instruments and funds to build better wards and water systems.
The skill of the surgeons there is incredible. These are surgeons who were the top orthopedic surgeons in Burma and who fled the Burma military after the coup and are now in the jungle. There was one young boy named David, who stepped on a landmine laid outside of a church. We were right there when it happened. The Burma Army had attacked, laid landmines and set the church on fire. They then left the village. As the church was burning, young David came in with members of the resistance to document what was happening. He was trying to video the burning church when he stepped on one of the Burma Army landmines. It blew his foot off. We were able to transport him out of there to a clinic that we support. There the Burman orthopedic surgeon (the same one who treated Silverhorn) was able to treat David. Not only that, once David begins to heal the surgeon’s plan is to rotate David’s heel bone into a different position so he will not need a prosthesis. With this procedure, David will be able to walk on that bone and stump they sew over it. This is an amazing surgery and gives this young boy a new chance at life.
We treat patients and also continue to work daily with the families in hiding places. In one of his hiding places, in the middle of a childrens program, a teacher came up to us and asked if we had any funds for rice that they wanted to carry over the mountain to a new boarding school. I asked how much they needed and they said they needed about $1000 and that would feed the students for the next three months. Because of all of your help we did have that money. We gave it to the teacher and he wrote a receipt out and later sent photos of the students carrying the rice across rice fields. I want to include these details which we normally don’t, just let you know the scale of help and how you help us help others. This is focused on Karenni State but it’s the same work we do in Karen, Chin, Kachin, Shan, and other areas of Burma. You’re making a huge difference in these peoples’ lives and we thank you for that. May God bless you all with all you need relationally, physically, spiritually, materially, and professionally in Jesus’ name.
Thank you and God bless you,
Dave, family and FBR