Good News in Burma
17 May 2023
I want to share some good news with you all. In the middle of the unprecedented level of attacks and killing by the Burma military, there are so many good things happening. First of all, there is a new unity in Burma that cuts across racial, tribal, language, ethnic, economic, social, and religious lines and this unity is for a free, democratic, federal and representative Burma. It is a unity against the dictators and a stand against them at all costs. However, the cost has been very high, in lives lost, people maimed, homes destroyed and dreams broken.
Imagine if you are in a country where a dictatorship has taken over and is slaughtering its own people. All the inhabitants from your city, your neighbors, and you, are forced to flee up to the mountains with no preparation and you cannot go home to see any of your loved ones that are still left there. That is how many Burmans feel right now. They have fled arrest and murder by the dictatorship in Burma and have left mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and children at home. They cannot go back or they will be killed; for them, the government must change or they will never see their families again. This is the feeling that people have as they’re in the jungle. In spite of this, they keep giving love to other people and they keep praying for change to come to Burma so that Burma will truly be free and so they can go home and be with their families.
In spite of this oppression, the people of Burma have not given up and we see this new unity being acted out in significant ways. We see a new democracy already being formed right now among the people in Burma, in which ethnic Burmans are now living and working together with ethnic minority groups. For example, in Karenni State, Burman doctors, nurses and other medical professionals fled for their lives and would be dead, except for the help of the Karenni people in their jungle mountain fastness. But it’s a two-way street. These medical professionals save Karenni lives by bringing a quality of care, equipment, and ability that has saved thousands.
Last year one of our team medics, Silverhorn, was shot twice and badly wounded with ruptured spleen and other serious internal injuries. We were able to take him to a Burman-run clinic, where, after 11 hours of extensive surgery using advanced techniques and equipment, Silverhorn’s life was saved. This was in the middle of the jungle in a clinic hidden from airstrikes, powered by generators. Only two weeks before that, a young Karenni boy stepped on a landmine, blowing most of his foot off. The same surgeon who saved Silverhorn was able to perform a reconstructive surgery on the boy’s foot. He rotated the heel bone and created a heel flap so that the boy now walks, without a prosthesis, on his own heel.
Another story is of a Karenni villager who suffered severe head trauma after being hit in the head by mortar shrapnel; he was comatose when he was brought in for an operation. He recovered from his coma, but was blind and paralyzed. A second operation in the same field hospital resulted in a recovery where he regained his vision, is now completely functioning and can walk up and down stairs by himself. This is a miracle of the Burman doctors coming from the cities to the jungle. And this is happening all over Burma. We visited and support hospitals and clinics like this in Karen, Karenni, Shan, Kachin and Chin states, and many other areas. Most of the doctors and nurses have been separated from their families for over two years and they cannot go home again until there is freedom in Burma. They carry a burden of suffering and uncertainty. At the same time, they act in love and use their skills the best they can to save others. These doctors and the clinics are in dire need of funding and equipment such as x-ray machines, electric cauterizing machines, EKG, ultrasound, CAT scans and MRI machines. There has been very little outside support for any of these medical supplies or equipment. This is an area of tremendous need, and services are being run by extremely competent people that could make instant use of any help given. We are doing our best to help supply funds, medicine and equipment, such as x-ray machines, but much more is needed.
Another positive thing we see is communities sharing food with each other from areas that are not immediately affected to areas of lack. The people harvest their rice and share it with people who have had to flee their homes and rice fields. The people in Burma are finding ways to buy and sell rice and help each other. There are over there million internally displaced people in Burma right now and the need for food support is tremendous. In spite of the ways people help each other, we don’t know how long they’ll be able to sustain it. We’ve been trying, along with others, to give rice support to the people as they are forced to flee again and again. We pray for more help for food so that these people can survive. It is always amazing to me to see groups in hiding helping other groups in hiding and the math of it seems to defy reality. The reality is they are barely surviving but they are surviving.
Another thing we’ve seen is people under attack forming their own community-based organizations to help each other with needs such as water supply, education, hygiene, mental wellness, spiritual support, and other needs. With no pay but good hearts, every community we have been to in Burma has developed their own organizations and mechanisms to help each other survive the onslaught of the Burma Army.
Militarily, even though there are many setbacks and the resistance is vastly outgunned there are a positive signs.
Situation Maps: The Burma Army’s Authority Deteriorates as it Struggles to Maintain Control within the Country
Different pro-democracy militia groups are cooperating together against the regime in Burma and cooperating to provide food, medical care, education and services to the people. The Burman and ethnic resistance know they need each other. The biggest area of need militarily is help to stop the Burma military airstrikes and heavy mortar and rocket attacks. The military lashes out, specifically targeting churches, schools, and IDP sites on an average of one a week throughout Burma. As of now, there’s no way to stop these aerial bombardments, heavy mortar, and rocket attacks.
But we pray that somehow they will be stopped.
Other good news is that we can continue to help bring help, hope and love to people in need and to continue to train young men and women from different ethnic groups to love each other and help those in need.
Finally, the good news I personally share is hearts that are open to the love of God and to receiving God’s love. We see people loving each other, forgiving each other and working for reconciliation. A new ranger speaks to this more: “As a member of Free Burma Rangers I’m accepted everywhere. I can go to any group and because I am a Free Burma Rangers relief team member I am accepted. This enables me to have good relationships with ethnic groups of different races, and tribes, all over Burma. It is such a blessing, and it is a unifying act.” Free Burma Rangers is comprised of people from many different religions and faiths. All who want to serve and love are welcome. At the same time, those of us who experience Jesus changing our hearts share as best we can the loving power of God through Jesus. People from all different ethnic groups have asked to be baptized and follow Jesus. This is a blessing and part of the freedom that we see.
Thank you for reading this and please pray for us be able to help more and that the people we serve get the support they need.
Thank you all and may God bless you in Jesus’ name.
Dave, family and FBR