Displaced persons in Kachin State
by Alan Nichols
Continuing conflict in Kachin and Royhingya areas is an important policy issue for the new democratic government of Myanmar.
The Free Burma Rangers’ (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Its basic values are Christian, but they serve everyone in need. Burma/Myanmar is a majority Buddhist country. But some of the ethnic tribes (Kachin, Karenni, Karen) have substantial minorities of Christians. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under the oppression of the Burma Army. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive Burmese military attacks.
29 April, 2016 Kachin State, Burma
Kachin people who were displaced by Burma Army offensives in 2011 still remain trapped in Internally Displaced Camps (IDP) with little hope to go home, often living in very difficult conditions. FBR teams visited and provided relief to those IDPs and the areas currently facing Burma Army aggression. The following report and photo detail those situations.
In April members of an FBR relief team went to Suden IDP camp in northeastern Kachin State to give some help and encouragement to IDPs there. During this mission the team members were able to help the IDPs by supporting a new church and distributing school supplies and other relief materials. The following portions of the report are written from the perspective of the relief team.
Distribution of School supplies in Student IDP camp
During our time in the IDP camp we shared the gospel of Jesus and how He came to forgive our sins, destroy the works of the devil, help us to live together and give us a new start. We also prayed that by His power the Burma Army would change their attitude and leave so people could go home again. Or if not, that they would be pushed back. I also prayed for overall change in Burma – for freedom, ability to return home, justice and reconciliation. We then distributed school materials, raincoats and toothbrushes and toothpaste for the children here. We also gave shirts, Day of Prayer materials and other supplies to the teachers. Then we walked as a group up to the new church and prayed together, for it, all the people here and for all ofBurma. Afterwards we visited the local leaders and Kachin soldiers who provide security while our team medic treated patients. Later we met the local pastor whose story is detailed below.
Speaking to the Local Pastor:
The pastor is Baw La Hpau Re, age 27, single, from Lashio, Shan State. He attended Bible School in Kutkai, in northern Shan State, Burma (Myanmar), and studied to be a pastor. Baw La became a believer at age 15 and was baptized. He said, “I love Jesus and want to follow Him. I decided to be a pastor because as I read Matthew 6:33 in the Bible, I was inspired to be a pastor.” I told him the story of my father who as an oilman, read the same verse and felt called to serve God as a missionary. “It is a dangerous verse,” I said. “Yes, very dangerous!” Baw La said as he laughed. He has been a pastor for three years and he has been up in Suden for an additional three years as the pastor to the IDPs in Suden camp. “The Kachin BaptistConvention sent me to help here. I feel God sent me here,” he explained.
Needs of the IDPs
The IDPs here need educational help, support of teachers, school supplies, school books, with boards and markers, clothes for students, and volunteers to raise the local standard of education. They also need help for better sanitation, better homes to live in, more medicine and agricultural help. Although the IDPs do get a ration of rice, salt, oil and washing soap fromKachin churches, NGOs and Chinese Christians, since it is hard to make thing grow up here food is also a desperate need.
Personal Prayer Requests
The pastor’s personal prayer requests are: “The people here feel hopeless and some have drifted in their faith. They feel abandoned and some do not want to follow God. I need prayer for them to be close to God. I need the right words and the power of God to inspire, strengthen and renew the people’s faith. There are 155 families here and 671 people total. Please pray for us. Thank you for the gifts you have given for the new church here. The IDPS lost their old church when the Burma army attacked them and they all had to flee their village. We are thankful and you help us build this church. We were not able to finish the church and then your funds arrived. This helps us finish the church building. I thank you all for your help in such a difficult time. We are on high mountain in this IDP site and it is cold, with heavy rain, hail and high winds. In the winter it snows. The new church is a good building, shelter and place to worship. We have also had earthquake here and so we built this church on a deep foundation. It has already survived an earthquake. This church helps us to worship God, keep dry and stay warm.
“We thank you. We thank God. We ask for God’s blessing on all the donors. You have come here to help us and even from far away you come, people of different races and languages. Thank you for helping us. It is because of God that you came here. We are one in God, thank you.”