Burma marks New Year; quake survivors in limbo

By April 15, 2011

Burma (MNN) — Vital aid is finally making it into
thousands of isolated villages hit by a powerful earthquake in eastern Burma
nearly three weeks ago.

So far, there are roughly 18,000 people affected in 90 villages,
with widespread damage to roads, bridges, schools, churches and
monasteries. In some villages, more than
half of the buildings were destroyed or were heavily damaged by the tremors.

While there are stories of
effective government response, that's not the case for everyone–especially the
Christians. Dyann
Romeijn with Vision Beyond Borders says, "There are at least four churches that have been completely
destroyed, and over 250 Christian homes that have been destroyed in four
different towns. We're trying to rebuild there."

One church building in the Lahu
ethnic community collapsed while a large gathering was inside, and the
government has yet to respond. When
the building collapsed, it killed 20 people and severely injured over 50
people. Many lost their arms and legs. The
pastor also died. "There are
actually still bodies in the rubble, but the government's not helping the
Christians at all,"says Romeijn.

To complicate matters for the
survivors, "It's their New Year festival. They call it the ‘Water Festival,'
and all the government and businesses will be shut down from now until April

That leaves thousands without
access to food, water or shelter, many of them possibly injured. Without help, it is likely they won't survive
the "New Year."

Romeijn says, "We
talked to our contacts. They're trying to get emergency aid and items purchased
so that the Christians can at least go on trying to help people and reach out
because the government, obviously, will be doing nothing during that period of

It may seem a calloused response
to the plight of their people, but again, Romeijn says, "We have to realize that
it's an opportunity, as well, for Christians to reach out. With everything
else shut down and nowhere to turn, it will be the Christians who are out
helping people."

Patrick Klein is in the Burma region today bringing funds to help with the
rebuilding. Romeijn says he's  also taking in medicine. "He'll be purchasing more medicines in
Thailand that our contacts have requested, along with relief items." A supply team is carrying five loaded duffels
of medical supplies, seeds, clothing and toys for the earthquake victims.

Interestingly, because it is the
believers who are standing in the gap, they've seen a lot of people who are
open to the hope of Christ, especially after Cyclone Nargis came through in 2008. "They saw the Christian response when the
government wouldn't help, and they call themselves a Buddhist government. A lot of the Buddhist monks were turning to Jesus.
There's been a huge revival in Burma and, a lot of people are coming as a result of the crises."

The ministry is getting ready to
ship a container with more medical equipment, supplies and relief. Click here  to find out how you can help.

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