Myanmar (MNN) — In 1984, the
first wave of Myanmarese refugees fleeing from conflict began flooding across
the border into Thailand.
25 years later, the crisis
Klein with Vision Beyond Borders says, "There are currently
over 150,000 refugees that have come into Thailand from Burma. There are still more flooding across the
The persecution and violence
seems to have government support. Many
of the refugees are of the minority Karen people, who are among the most
discriminated against in Burma. "One
of the generals said, "By the year 2010, there will be no Karen people
left. We're going to wipe them off the face of the earth."
Is the campaign ethnic or
faith-based? Klein says it's a bit both. Many of the Karen are Christians. However, according to Voice of the Martyrs
Canada, Buddhism is strongly entrenched in the Myanmarese majority; only about
five percent of Christians in Burma are converts from Buddhism.
VOMC has more grim news. These Christians have been raped, tortured
and murdered. In the aftermath of
Cyclone Nargis, which devastated the country in early May 2008, Burmese
authorities reportedly denied relief aid to several Christians.
The harassment is growing more
blatant. In his last visit, Klein said
he visited with a group of orphaned refugees. Myanmar junta soldiers had
threatened to kill all of the children in the home, so the group fled in the middle of the
night. All 86 children took refuge 150
yards away in Thailand.
Vision Beyond Borders works with
several church partners and at least six orphanage programs in Myanmar. Many of
these sprang to life as the result of the deadly Cyclone Nargis last year. Klein says, "Because of the compassion
of the Christians reaching out to these refugees coming in, even the Buddhists
now are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, so the Gospel is increasing."
Persecution will follow. "It seems like they're trying to stamp
out the church," explains Klein, adding, "They know that the number of
Christians is growing. But it seems like whenever there's real persecution,
the church seems to grow."
Vision Beyond Borders responds
through their partners. Pray for the
strength of Christians to stand firm in their faith, despite the lawlessness
around them. Pray, too, for ministry
opportunities for Christians to share their faith with others. You can help. Click here for details.