Luke recorded Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison after “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5). Today, our brothers and sisters in the Church in Myanmar are caught in a bloody civil war, and they need our help. They are persecuted, killed, and are literally depending on our prayers for their deliverance. There is only one Church — the body of believers in Christ across the globe. When one part of the body is attacked, praying for their deliverance is up to us.
Specifically, we need to pray for the Chin people of Myanmar. Ninety percent of Chin people are Christian. They are educated leaders and business owners. And yet, as a group, the Chin people of Myanmar are being targeted by the military.
On September 18, the Myanmar military used heavy artillery fire against its own people in a major city called Thantlang. They burned homes, including those of Chin Christians. Because firefighters are too afraid of the military to put out the fires, people take it into their own hands. When one pastor tried to enter a burning building to save people, he was shot dead on the street. Other people who tried to help were chased down and shot.
No real choice
Young people have no opportunity for school or jobs in Myanmar. Their future is one with a forced decision between two choices — become part of the military or join forces with the army that is fighting the military.
I have been monitoring the situation in Thantlang. Half the city’s population has now fled the gunfire and bombings. Christians there are in a desperate situation. The people in 10 Christian churches with 1,000 believers were forced to make a terrible decision — stay and be persecuted or flee and face an uncertain future living in the jungle, trying to make a harrowing journey over the mountains and across the border. Today, only six families remain in those churches. The rest have fled.
Those who flee go to the heavily forested mountains along the Indian border. People in the Indian state of Mizoram speak the same language and have the same culture as Myanmar. Refugees who make it there are allowed to live in refugee camps. But getting across the river border is next to impossible.
The un-crossable border
We’ve all seen the harrowing videos of people crossing borders in the West. In Myanmar, the situation is dire. People who have fled their jobs, home, and schools, wander in the mountains living in makeshift tents, trying to survive in the wild. The river is turbulent, swollen in the rainy season, so the people who manage to tie together some boards to cross are often swept away by the fast current.
Communications between friends and family are nonexistent. People don’t have cell phones and try to get news through word of mouth. Many people fall prey to men who turn out to be human traffickers. The traffickers make big promises, and make big money for “safe passage,” only to sell the family’s young women to other countries as sex slaves.
In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah describes the distress of captive Jerusalem like this: “When her people fell into the hand of the enemy, with no one to help her, the adversaries saw her and mocked at her downfall … I called for my lovers, but they deceived me. My priests and my elders breathed their last in the city, while they sought food to restore their life” (Lamentations 1:7, 19, NKJV).
Fervent prayer is needed
We must be careful not to get so caught up in the pandemic woes that we fail to have concern for the suffering of others. Jeremiah — the “weeping prophet”— cried out: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12, NKJV).
Let us pray first for the Myanmar Church, for the pastors, priests, missionaries, and their families. I know many Christian leaders who are still there, still standing, and many pastors and priests who are still trying to help the needs of others. But what do you do when your people are attacked or scattered?
This is a spiritual battle that can be won only in prayer and fasting. The question is, do we have the fire in our bones? Do we grasp our vital intercessory role in this theater of terror? Or is Myanmar just another crisis in the news that we can skip over on our way to Starbucks?
Let us pray for the nation of Myanmar. Let us pray for the believers who have fled, and those who still stand. Let us pray for those who stand up as a witness for Christ. Let us pray for political leaders to stop the killing and persecution. Lastly, let us pray for “men who have turned the world upside down” to rise up and bring peace to that beautiful and troubled land.