Burma Missionaries Trapped in Midst of Ethnic Violence
July 17, 2012
RAKHINE, Myanmar - Christian Aid Mission is sending emergency aid to help rescue 17 native missionary families on nine mission stations who are suffering hunger and disease after weeks of bloody violence.
Fighting between two unreached people groups has slowed along the Burmese border with Bangladesh, allowing some aid to get through to the Christian villagers and missionary families trapped in the crossfire between Rakhine Buddhists and Rochingya Muslims.
Native missionaries have asked Christian Aid for urgent help; not only for the stranded missionaries, but for the unreached people groups they are serving. "The one thing that is most important is to show 'God's love in action' so that they may hear the gospel and feel God's love in this time of despair," said the local mission leader.
Local missionaries have called their effort the "God's Love in Action" campaign to reach out to the homeless, sick and starving. Over 90,000 villagers are displaced and over 2500 homes have been burnt to the ground since the violence began June 5.
Over 800,000 Rochingya Muslims have entered Burma "illegally" according to the government and are considered stateless both by Bangladesh and Myanmar. Descendents of Arab, Mughal, Turkish, and Moorish invaders of South Asia they have spread not only to Myanmar, but every country of Southeast Asia.
The fighting, which erupted about six weeks ago, has ground to a halt in the capital of Sittwe, allowing a curfew to be lifted in the daylight hours. However, tensions remain high and many continue to arm themselves with homemade weapons. Military roadblocks in the region have cut many people off from water, food and medicine for several weeks - especially in rural areas, but some aid is starting to get through despite ongoing pacification efforts by the Army.
"Right now," said the Burmese mission leader, "the whole of Rakhine State remains in crisis. Travel from city to city is almost impossible but the needs both spiritual and physical are great - this is an opportunity to share the gospel. They are hungry for food and thirsty for water, but also for the Word of God - as the doors are opening now, we must send help."
Funds will be used for emergency food, clean water, water bottles, clothes and shelter. As roads open, Christian volunteers and students are going out from the provincial capital of Sittwe to deliver the aid. About $10,000 is needed to fund the first rescue efforts to those in distress.
Salting and poisoning of wells, the unchecked spread of disease and starvation are contributing to daily deaths in Rakhine State.
Help will go through the local pastors, missionaries and Christian workers and then to the most needy victims of the violence. "If we don't help them survive, even more will die each day without food and water - and they will die not knowing the Savior Jesus Christ."
The missionaries in Rakhine have planted 44 churches in the province, with 1246 members in 248 households in the affected areas. They have nine mission stations and 17 missionary families in four townships.