You’ll know from reading our updates here that on February 1st, the Myanmar (Burma) military (Tatmadaw) staged a coup and seized power after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders. The military-backed party had been claiming the election would be fraudulent even before it was held on November 8th, 2020. After the election, they continued making these allegations without evidence of widespread fraud. Using this as an excuse, the military has arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and has declared a state of emergency for a year, seizing control of the country.
There are extensive and ongoing updates from our two main country coordinators – Pan* and Thang* here. From these, and from the news, you will find the horror that the people of Myanmar are facing. The entire country, not only Christians.
Below, Pastor Thang* shares his perspective on his own response as he lives through this violence. Pastor Thang has connected us to many of the pastors and believers we support in this country. He has worked diligently in translating Christian books into local languages, and he teaches at a local seminary. He also has a children’s home with 18 children and teenagers living with him and his wife.
“It is important to be honest with God in prayer. I believe prayer is like complaining to God sometimes. Bringing our problems to God. God’s response is different than we expect many times, but we are meant to bring our honest selves to God.
In the beginning of the coup, there was not open persecution, but you couldn’t speak out about what is right or wrong – about injustice. Now, we hear gunfire often, and many people are arrested day and night. We are under pressure all the time. It is like eternal hell – suffering all the pain all the time, but no end through death. Suffering is constant. At night we have to stay awake. We need to be very attentive in the night and sound the alarm if anything happens. Constantly we are watching our words and actions. It is suffocating.
There was a break from this pressure for several years, but now, under the coup, the pressure is back. The military just plays a chess game. That means they block all the ways out. You are under their control.
Many celebrities are arrested under 505 laws. Last week an actor and actress couple ran away for their safety, but they are arrested now. Because the people who have the power said to their extended family that if the couple didn’t appear to be arrested, two of their children (around five and eight) would be taken. So, this actor and actress didn’t want the children to be arrested because of them. Therefore, they just came and were arrested.
It is this kind of thing which they have been doing in the past, for more than 60 years. This makes our life very difficult for us and for all the people. If they cannot arrest the person who they want, then they just arrest his wife or his parents, or even his children. We have been so many years under the Tatmadaw with pressure. Our lives became so hard and difficult. You can imagine – One mobile SIM card cost USD $2000 ten years ago. Just only the rich people could afford it, which they did. But after less than 10 years under democracy, one mobile SIM card costs USD $200. And then just $1.
From $2000 to $1 was impossible, but our democratic government valued the lives of the people and our living standards. So, our 54 million people have tasted and experienced this within the last five years (of the democratic government).
It is hard to explain, but after seeing many people leave their homes as refugees for 60 years, especially in Kachin, Shan and Kayah States due to fighting for decades, finally the Burmese people (the country’s majority Bamar ethnic group) now understand the long-suffering of these tribal minorities because they themselves are suffering – even in the cities and all over Myanmar.
According to the Bible we must obey and submit to the authority as Romans 13:1 says,
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
This scripture has been used by our government in the past, whenever they wanted to cause any problems to the Christians. But this present situation is completely different from Romans 13:1 because they are not elected by the people; when they took this power it was illegal. So, we the people need to stand for the truth.
All the protestors are in the street, and then they clean everything up. They are very respectful.
Especially for the children, you can’t imagine how terrible it has been. Their whole futures are disappearing. Our Generation Z will not give up, because if we lose this, we have lost our future. The young generation is very powerful and humble and wise. I am very impressed with them, and motivated by them. I am praying for these protestors to not be harmed and to be able to have peaceful rest.
We need all your prayer to stay firm in our faith, to be wise and humble, and to forgive and understand all the time. We are not losers. We overcome everything in Christ. But we always must obey the Lord. Please pray for our people’s safety. Without reason and cause many people die and suffer, as well as being arrested. Please also pray for the daily needs of the people. Many are suffering, leaving their homes and staying in the forest or with their relatives in other villages.
Please kindly remember us in prayer, for our freedom. We need your prayer strongly to get freedom – from fear, from injustice, and from poverty. We have been suffering so long. Pray for God’s intervention very soon. If not, many more people will die and suffer.”
Yours sincerely, Thang”
We are still able to send funds into the country, and your support helps now, more than ever. You can also email a word of encouragement to these pastors by sending it to [email protected].