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Army imposes martial law in Thailand

By May 21, 2014
(Photo of Thai Army courtesy Flickr/CC/Ian Fuller)

(Photo of Thai Army courtesy Flickr/CC/Ian Fuller)

Thailand (MNN) — It’s tense in Thailand.

The nation has seen 11 coups since the end of direct rule by kings in 1932, and there’s concern that history might be repeating itself.

In case you haven’t been following what’s been happening there, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled by a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power, and disrespect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Six months later, political polarization has escalated to frenzy. Thailand has been without a fully functioning government since December, when Thaksin’s sister, then premier, hastily called for elections to ease the unrest.

Protests and counter rallies continued, some with deadly results. On Tuesday, the military stepped in to keep “peace and order,” although they deny that the move is precursor to a “coup d’état.” At the same time, nine cabinet ministers were removed from office, and a caretaker prime minister, the Deputy PM and Commerce Minister, appointed. Today, they are calling it a coup.

(Photo courtesy Flickr/CC/Ian Fuller)

(Photo courtesy Flickr/CC/Ian Fuller)

Dyann Romeijn with Vision Beyond Borders says, “Anytime a country goes into martial law, of course freedoms are restricted. So with that, and the pressure of the countries around them that restrict so many of the religious freedoms, that’s always a concern.”

She goes on to say, “A lot of the countries that we work in around Thailand are closed, so Thailand has always been an area where there have been freedoms, where we have been able to base out of.”

VBB wouldn’t be the only one affected by the disturbances. Romeijn explains, “It’s my understanding that there are well over a thousand ministries that are based out of there as kind of a stability, to be able to reach out to the other closed countries around Thailand.”

Meanwhile, Thailand’s government urged the country’s poll-organizing agency to hold nationwide elections on August 3, 2014. But will this solution bring the peace long sought after?

Romeijn offers this thought: “We understand that as the world moves closer to the world government and to the end times that’s prophesied in the Bible, we’re going to see more and more of the abuses of power, restrictions of rights, and things like that.”

However, that’s not to say VBB will give up on the people they help. “There are about 100,000 refugees in nine refugee camps along the border with Thailand and Burma, as a result of the genocide going on there; they’ve fled Burma and come into Thailand,” she says. Most of the camps are barely able to support the refugees they hold.

While they’re needed, VBB won’t quit. “At this point, it doesn’t look like anything has really changed for us in the way that business will be done there, but that all remains to be seen. Thailand in the past has taken issue with the refugees being in Thailand.”

VBB takes teams in to visit the Karen refugees who are living in refugee camps along the Burma/Thailand border. Romeijn explains, “When Jesus tells us to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, and that what we’ve done unto the least of these, we’ve done unto Him, there are truly no people who are more down and out–who have less–than the refugees who have fled with basically whatever they could carry on their backs through the jungles.”

They deliver much-needed relief supplies including clothing, medications, and small toys for the children. Teams also have the opportunity to minister directly to those who are hurting, hear their incredible testimonies, and attend worship services with the Karen. In addition, there are opportunities to share the love of Christ with the orphans who are in these camps.

(Photo courtesy Vision Beyond Borders)

(Photo courtesy Vision Beyond Borders)

At the cusp of change, now’s the time to respond. Romeijn boils it down to three responses. First, “Pray. It truly is a spiritual battle that we’re engaged in.” Second, “If people feel led, [we hope] they would be able to go on these trips: we actually take short-term teams.” And then, consider giving. “We always need funds to support the work.”

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