Myanmar (MNN) — In the wake of one of the worst cyclones to
hit Myanmar, the country's junta government is finally allowing some aid on the
ground. It may not be soon enough for those in the outlying regions.
Official media reports now say as many as 10,000 people were
killed in one town alone. The storm's
12-foot tidal surges and high winds blasted away the bamboo huts that dotted
the low-lying coastal areas where death tolls would be catastrophic.
Rural areas, already primitive, are likely to be the last to
receive any aid that does trickle in.
Faith-based humanitarian groups joined the voices urging the junta
government to loosen restrictions at the borders–with little success.
Global Advance's David Shibley notes one prospect: "The
government is being resistant to aid. However, this does give opportunity for
some mission groups that are already on the ground there to be very
significantly used." There are some agencies with projects in the
hard-hit areas that will be able to make use of an already-established
According to the 2008 Open Doors' World Watch List, Myanmar
ranks 25th among the world's worst persecutors of believers. A
police state, it is approximately 90 percent Buddhist and 4 percent Christian. Most of the country's Christians belong to
Shibley explains, "This is a very repressive
culture against the Gospel, and yet there is a small but vigorous and growing
and multiplying church." He
conducted a pastors' training conference some time ago that laid the groundwork
for partnerships. From that, he saw a
readiness from these leaders to communicate the love of Christ however they
That's what's behind his great hope for evangelistic
opportunities. Shibley says these
Christians will be ready with answers because, "For some, they will see
this tragedy as an act of punishment for not following their religion closely
enough. But many others will see the
bankruptcy of their traditional religions and be open to the Gospel in a way
that they had not been, previously."
Pray that food, clean water and shelter will be delivered to
the neediest as soon as possible. Pray too that Christians in Burma will feel
the peace and comfort of worldwide prayers.