Christians intentionally neglected by government

By April 26, 2011

Myanmar (MNN) — Since an earthquake struck Burma (also called Myanmar) late last March, many have praised the Burmese government for the way they have handled it. Unfortunately, not all Burmese have reaped the benefits of the government's aid.

It is feared that over 100 were killed as a direct result of the quake, and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Resources are slim enough that most are worried about having enough to finish out the month. Many families have a little rice left over from last year's crop to survive on for a brief time, but they will not be able to plant this season due to relocation. Hundreds are living under tarps, tents, and temporary shelters.

Out of more than 40 affected villages, close to 20 are Christian villages, reports "John" with Vision Beyond Borders. These 20 have received little assistance, if any, despite their extreme conditions.

Recently, John traveled to a few Christian villages suffering from the natural disaster. He discovered that they had received no government attention whatsoever.

"[The government has] set up some tents just to look nice, but when you really go up there, you don't see any help or any organizations to help there–to meet the needs of the people," explains John. "There are a few ethnic groups called ‘Akha' [and] ‘Lahu.' Mainly those ethnic groups are Christians, and there is no help going there at all."

Interestingly, the government has done a great deal to help Buddhists in the quake aftermath. Buddhists have historically taken priority over Christians in a regime which John says is against Christianity.

"In Burma, it is indeed kind of persecution. It is not just the first time. Even last time, when we had the Nargis Cyclone in the Delta region, [the government] never handed out help to those Christian families and villages in the Delta region. They only sent out first to the Buddhist villages and towns," remembers John. "So, the same case is happening here."

These Christians villages, thankfully, have not gone completely overlooked. The local church and groups like VBB are doing all they can to provide medicine, food and shelter. Unfortunately, it may not be enough. The need is greater than the churches and few organizations can handle all at once.

As the monsoon season approaches, one of the greatest needs is for housing.

"If they don't build their houses soon, the rain is coming; and the people–the babies, little children and the people there–will get sick because the monsoon rainy season is strong," explains John. "When the rainy season comes, a lot of mosquitoes, leeches, beetles, bugs, and sickness can come to the community."

The rainy season is less than a month away, so shelters built now will just be enough to keep a family alive and safe from bugs and disease. One simple house costs $500 to build. If you can help with this urgent need, visit visionbeyondborders.org.

Despite the devastation, the Gospel continues to spread. The Akha and Lahu ethnic groups whom John visited were grateful for the help and were receptive of the Gospel. Many were believers already, and others were products of their parents' faith. Regardless, they all seemed to need discipleship in their remote areas. Vision Beyond Borders was able to provide resources to encourage them and build them up in their faith.

Help Vision Beyond Borders continue to spread the Gospel and the love of Christ during a time when Christians have been neglected by their government. Click here to help.

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