Burma (MNN) — A new constitution and other reforms seem to imply that the nation occasionally known as Myanmar is taking steps toward a brighter future. But ethnic conflict in the Rakhine state between Rochingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists could put the brakes on Burma's forward motion.
Ongoing fighting has put over 90,000 people in refugee camps. A UN expert recently called the Burmese government to intervene and bring peace to the Rakhine state. According to KP Yohannan, president of Gospel for Asia, your prayers are needed.
"Maybe, finally, democracy will come into the country, but these kinds of ethnic conflict and unnecessary killings of hundreds of people only complicate the matter," says Yohannan.
"I think the Body of Christ all over the world needs to pray that the possibility of the nation being free for the Gospel will come to pass."
Yohannan says the ministry's headquarters in Burma has set up safe havens for children
"Our hearts are grieved for the children who are left helpless," says Yohannan, "and we established one more Bridge of Hope center for the kids out of this crisis and conflict."
GFA has also mobilized missionaries in the Rakhine state.
"They're doing everything in the world to provide shelter, food, and counseling and help people," says Yohannan. "Of course, that all calls for financial resources."
GFA's Compassion Services deliver aid not only to victims of natural disasters, but man-made disasters too, such as ethnic conflict. Click here to support their efforts.
"Every penny people send, either for Burma or Bangladesh or refugees, goes to help the people," says Yohannan.
Thousands of people fled to Bangladesh seeking refuge from the ongoing ethnic tensions. Even though Bangladesh closed its borders to Rochingya refugees in June, GFA teams are still trying to help.
"Dozens of our missionaries in Bangladesh actually are actually trying to minister to the people who are refugees," he explains. "But…the government has established such tight control over these refugee camps. They actually are allowing the Muslim priests to go into these communities and convert these people who are not Muslims to become Muslims.
"If they don't consent, [refugees] face huge difficulties getting their rations, getting their help, and all those things."
Even though GFA missionaries in Bangladesh come with help-in-hand, they're usually denied access to the Rochingya refugees.
"Our difficulty is to get into the refugee camps, even with the food and clothes and help, because of the blockade that is created by the hardline Muslim fundamentalists," explains Yohannan.
"But in a few places, by the grace of God, we were able to get in–not [only] to bring physical help, but also to minister to the people. And when they hear about Jesus, there's hope, regardless of who they are, and we are able to pray with them and lead them to Christ."
Pray for safety and respite for ethnic refugees in Burma. Pray for open doors for the GFA missionaries to deliver relief aid and the Good News of Jesus.