I am writing to ask you all to pray with us.
Some of you may know that there has been fighting in Western Burma for the past couple years. Two ethnic groups have been in disputes, the primarily Muslim Rohingya and the primarily Buddhist Arakan. The Rohingya people have been pushed out of their homes and relocated to refugee camps–some registered, some unregistered–and trying to survive there for months now.
Partners has been a part of helping in these camps, particularly the unregistered ones, for many months. It has gotten more and more difficult to work there, and also to send supplies, even through friends of both ethnicities. Ro people have been unable to do much of anything, and any Arakan people who have reached out to the Ro have been targeted.
Just two weeks ago all of the aid workers and foreigners living in the area were forced out. Their homes were attacked by Buddhist groups, upset that they were helping the Ro people. When the foreigners attempted to return, the government has barred them.
Now, just a couple weeks later, the Rohingya people are starving.
They have no food and no medicine. There are no aid groups able to help, particularly now that the government has forbidden any foreign aid to be there.
There is an entire people group starving right now.
It is all to familiar, really.
It is similar to Cyclone Nargis, when the Burmese government didn’t allow foreign aid to provide food, water, and supplies. It is similar to ethnic disputes in the past, where the government instituted the Four Cuts policy to cut off food, funding, information, and new recruits. It is similar to the Rwandan genocide, which this year is twenty years in the past.
Or right in front of us, while “peace talks” and “democracy” continue to move forward in Burma.
In The Giver by Lois Lowry, she writes about a boy, Jonas, growing up in an utopian society.
“He had been trained since earliest childhood, since his earliest learning of language, never to lie.
It was an integral part of the learning of precise speech.
Once, when he had been a Four, he had said, just prior to the midday meal at school, ‘I’m starving.’
Immediately he had been taken aside for a brief private lesson in language precision.
He was not starving, it was pointed out. He was hungry.
No one in the community was starving, had ever been starving, would ever be starving.
To say starving was to speak a lie. An unintentioned lie, of course.
But the reason for precision of language was to ensure that unintentional lies were never uttered.
Did he understand that? they asked him. And he had.”
Though we don’t live in an utopian society, this is true for many of us. Most of us are not starving, never have been, and never will be.
But that’s not true for so much of the world, and for the Rohingya today, they know hunger. They know starvation.
Can we pray for them together? Can we fast for them together? Can we fast in our abundance, knowing that we will not be starving the following meal or day or week? Can we fast to loose the bonds of wickedness, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)
If you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
May our prayers of light rise over the darkness of Western Burma.
Some things to pray for:
for aid workers to be able to bring food and supplies, including large INGOs and little charities like Partners
for God to multiply to the food that is there
for health of so many
for survival of a people group made in the image of God
for true peace among “peace talks in Burma”
for the Muslims and Buddhists to know truth; for God to be glorified in the midst of this
for Partners to have a way to send rice into the Ro people
for the government to protect their own people