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PRAYER
Day of Prayer for Burma
By Elizabeth Kendal and Assist News
09-Mar-2006
BURMA NATION IN CHAOS

Today, after half a century of continual conflict and chaos, Burmese citizens live under one of the most brutally repressive regimes in the world. Whilst Burma's military junta is defined by a mix of Buddhist and Marxist thought, its real interest is power, not ideology. Meanwhile many of Burma's ethnic minorities have large Christian communities and are pro-democracy. The Karen, Burma's largest ethnic minority - around 20 per cent of the

population - are 40 percent Christian. Christianity is dominant amongst the Kachin of the north and the Chin and Naga of the west, and is widespread amongst the Karenni and Karen of the war-wracked east. Burma's military dictatorship brutally and decisively crushes all dissent, but active insurgencies are continuing in the Shan, Karenni and Karen eastern states. Burma's army is infamous for its gross human rights abuses which include forced labour, rape, killings, beheadings, the mutilation of bodies and the use of terror squads. Burma's internal conflicts have created over a million IDPs (internally displaced people) forced to be constantly on the move through dense jungle, as well as more than a million refugees, mostly in camps in neighbouring countries.

BURMA CHURCH UNDER ATTACK

In the mid-1960s nearly all foreign missionaries were expelled and all private schools and hospitals, mostly run by Christian missions, were nationalised. Today, Burma's registered church has a limited religious freedom. The government imposes restrictions on witness, the building and repair of church property and the importation and distribution of Christian literature. The government monitors religious activity to ensure there is no talk

of human rights or democracy. Christians are frequently discriminated against and persecuted 'in the public interest' because they mostly belong to the restive ethnic minorities. Buddhism is strongly entrenched and is used by the regime as a weapon against the ethnic minorities. The government is known to fund and arm Buddhist militias to burn the churches and violently persecute the Christians amongst the Karen and Karenni minorities. These attacks form what is really government-sponsored religious offensive within a larger civil war.

BURMA IN GOD'S HEART

When Adoniram Judson, America's first foreign missionary, arrived in Burma in 1813 it was a hostile and totally unreached territory. He was 24 and worked there for 38 years until his death at age 61. Judson laboured for six years without any fruit. When berated for his lack of results he replied, 'The prospects are as bright as the promise of God.' His first convert Maung Nau was baptised on 27 June 1819. Judson persevered, but with little progress and inconceivable, costly suffering. The first Karen Judson led to the Lord was Ko Tha Byu, a slave and hardened criminal. After his converion in 1828, Ko Tha Byu became a mighty evangelist who ultimately led to Christ multitudes of Karen whom God had prepared to receive the gospel. But it was in 1831 that Judson noticed a distinct change come over the land. He observed: 'A spirit of inquiry is spreading everywhere, through the whole length and breadth of the land.' The Holy Spirit moved in power and many thousands of Burmese from right across the nation sought and received salvation.

Less than 200 years later, Burma today has around four million Christians - 8.7 per cent of the population. And the prospects for Burma are still as bright as the promises of God.
Our prayer...
A miracle of peace to Burma, from our Creator God who brought order to chaos and light to darkness, from our Sovereign God who rules over the nations and holds the hearts of 'kings' in his hands. (Isaiah 40:12-26; Proverbs 22:1) May peace, not power, be the heart desire of all Burmese, especially those in positions of influence and authority. And may peace be accompanied by wisdom, justice, grace and reconciliation.

God to protect and nurture Karenni and Karen believers, forced to live in constant fear and with abject poverty and hardship, as they face brutal offensives from Buddhist militias and the Burma army. (Isaiah 40:11)

The Holy Spirit to fix the eyes of all Burma's repressed and suffering Christians firmly on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). 'Consider him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.' (Hebrews 12:3) May Jesus be their strength, direction and hope.

That God will revisit Burma with another special outpouring of his Holy Spirit, that a 'spirit of inquiry' will once again flood the land, so deep it reaches up into the high places of government and military power.

That God's Spirit will bring deep conviction of sin to Burma, that the killings and oppression might end with repentance and restoration.