International (MNN) — The Fund for Peace released its annual
Failed States Index this week.
At the top of the list are Somalia, Chad, Sudan, and Congo. While it is generally dominated by African countries,
Pakistan (12), Burma (18), Bangladesh (25), Nepal (27) and Sri Lanka (29) are featured in the top 30.
The Index measures the stability of 177 countries by looking
at social, economic, and political factors. On the social scale, it looked pressure from
things like natural disaster, disease, poverty, and food/water security. They examined the presence of refugees or
displaced people as well as ethnic, sectarian and tribal conflicts. Education
also plays a factor in the determinations, so researchers looked at "brain drain,"
or loss of the educated class.
Uneven economic development
and sharp economic decline develops another side of the index. Political
factors include state legitimacy, public services, rule of law, security operations and political/military pressure
It's no surprise that the countries in and around Southeast Asia
are ones also noted in the Open Doors World Watch List (a list of 50 countries
most known for the persecution of Christians). Dyann Romeijn with Vision Beyond Borders
says, "There is a lot of religious persecution in these areas. What we're
seeing, I think, is a reflection of the lack of religious freedom and the lack
of Christian influence in those cultures."
VBB has programs in Pakistan, Burma, Nepal and Bhutan. While these countries all have significant problems,
Burma has an ongoing genocide against the minority
Christians. Fighting flared this week
after peace talks failed once more between the junta government and
Romeijn says, "We continue to see more and more refugees coming
in. It's the same situation over and over. The governments tend to do nothing about it. The Thai government is
sending a lot of the people back."
On June 8, the United Nations reaffirmed its commitment to
peace and democracy in Burma, but Romeijn notes, "We can't expect the United
Nations to step in on all these things," says Romeijn. "They're not stepping in; they're not
doing anything. But as Christians, we're
supposed to have compassion on these people, and God has told us to bear one another's
burdens, to pray for each other, and to do what we can to help the widows and
Corruption is high in many of the Failed State regions where
VBB works. However, the ministry team found ways around that
problem. Romeijn says, "We're able to work through
established nationals within the country to distribute the funds and to
actually implement projects because it's very difficult. They're very skeptical
Romeijn says their mission is both a reminder and a wake-up call
to action in the name of Christ. "There
are so many opportunities for the church to reach out and touch people with the
Gospel in tangible ways."
Failed State or not, Vision Beyond Borders relies on help
from believers to continue to move forward. Aside from praying for the team,
you can give or you can go. "We're
sending two 40-foot containers: one into Burma, and one into Thailand for the refugees
over the summer. So we actually have opportunity for people to be involved in
that way. We need medical supplies, and you can actually go on a trip with
Vision Beyond Borders." There's more information here.