Myanmar (MNN) — The global community is stepping up pressure on Myanmar while Christians in neighboring Bangladesh care for Rohingya refugees.
“In the midst of this ‘ethnic cleansing’ type of situation, the Church is just trying to be the Body of Christ reach out to their neighbors, and share the love of Jesus,” says Asian Access’ Joe Handley.
“They’ve seen hundreds, maybe even thousands, come to Christ; they’ve started dozens of churches among the Rohingya.”
It’s the silver lining to an otherwise frustrating state of affairs.
Myanmar leaders refuse to give in
The office of Myanmar’s President, Aung San Suu Kyi, yesterday announced she would not be attending next week’s UN General Assembly. Myanmar’s ongoing Rohingya crisis is expected to be a major theme of Assembly discussions.
Although Rohingya Muslims have faced hardships in Myanmar for decades, UN investigators said last month that military persecution of the Rohingya revealed “genocidal intent.”
Between 700,000 and 800,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh last year following clashes between state authorities and rebel forces. This UN official described the attack as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Unfortunately, as described here, the Rohingya aren’t likely to find justice in the courts of man. Myanmar does not recognize the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a valid entity, and world superpowers have little initiative to push the issue.
It’s not stopping local believers from responding to urgent needs.
Christians respond in love
Asian Access equips and encourages national Christian leaders to be “change agents” in society.
“In the midst of our Asian Access Leader Training, we develop communities that support each other,” explains Handley, adding that graduates of the program are often referred to as ‘A2 alumni.’
Multiple trainings and a long history with Asian Access helped prepare Bangladeshi believers for the onslaught of Rohingya refugees.
“A2 alumni are right in the middle of Rohingya [refugee camps]. They’re trying to hand out rice and give shelter to these Rohingya refugees; they’re trying to help them with the cost of visas.”
An end to the Rohingya crisis is nowhere in sight. But, as Christians from various backgrounds work together to meet needs, the Rohingya see God’s love and unity in action.
“It’s not a ‘lone ranger church’ out there reaching out amongst the Rohingya, it’s actually the Body of Christ reaching out across denominations resourcing one another, in addition to the resources of Asian Access and others that are coming alongside,” states Handley.
Please continue praying for the Rohingya, and pray for unity among responding churches.
Header image courtesy Jordi Bernabeu Farrús via Flickr.