The country of Myanmar (also called Burma) held elections on November 8, 2020, when the National Democratic League political party won 83% of the vote. But on February 1, 2021, just before the new parliament was scheduled to convene, military leaders took over the country in a coup, declaring that the country was under a one-year state of emergency. At that time, many top leaders were detained, and strict restrictions were placed on banks, internet, mobile phones, and television. Military presence since the beginning of February increased, with armed soldiers a constant presence in nearly all cities, towns, and villages.
Why is this important?
International Ministries’ relationship with our partner, the Myanmar Baptist Convention (MBC), began in 1813 with the arrival of Ann and Adoniram Judson, the first missionaries to land in Myanmar, where they introduced Christianity to the Burmese. Over the centuries, our close relationship has continued, and since the time of the Judsons, IM had over 300 missionaries serving with the MBC in Myanmar in education, theological education, health and wellness, discipleship and evangelism. Sadly, in 1962, due to the political situation, all the missionaries were expelled from the country; but, in 2011, the country opened up again and our rich relationship continued. The MBC today continues to be a vibrant denomination with over 1.6 million members across 28 language groups spread throughout Myanmar.
Because the elected democratic government in Myanmar was not acknowledged, large numbers of people in Myanmar immediately began resisting the military in consistent, peaceful, nonviolent protests using civil disobedience all over the country. These methods of passive resistance, including peaceful protests, prayer vigils, and staying home from work have all been a part of their CDM (Civil Disobedience Movement) protests against the armed military. Because of the pressure to go back to work, many civil servants have had to go into hiding, including doctors, medical workers, teachers, engineers, and others. Even as they have been in hiding, many have continued their work online to provide free services to their fellow citizens. The result is that many in Myanmar have no income and need assistance and urgent support. Protests have also complicated the fight against the spread of COVID-19 infections.
As a part of the Burma Refugee Commission (BRC), International Ministries is meeting often with the Myanmar Diaspora (diaspora is used here to indicate the former refugee communities) leaders living in the United States. International Ministries is in frequent contact with leaders of the MBC to learn their needs and hear about the situation on the ground. The BRC continues to advocate with our top political leaders to ask them to intervene, holds a time of prayer one time each month with the diaspora leaders in the US and abroad, and has collaborated to produce a “Call to Prayer” page on the ABCUSA website. It can be accessed here: https://www.abc-usa.org/burma-refugee-commission/
IM is working to provide funds to assist those affected by the coup. Funds raised will go to assist those who are in need in Myanmar because of the political turmoil. Funds will be used to: 1. Assist civil servants and their families who are engaged in the CDM; 2. Assist the people who are suffering due to their jobless status; and 3. Help those who cannot afford to pay for medical care and vitamins as well as to pay for tests, medical supplies, and vaccines related to COVID-19.
HOW YOU CAN STAY INFORMED AND HELP
Please continue to pray for the people of Myanmar and our brothers and sisters who are a part of the Myanmar Baptist Convention. Pray for safety, peace, and justice and a positive outcome for what is happening now. Please continue to learn more about this unique situation and what you might be able to do in advocacy. Please give so that we can help to assist those in need.
Persons wishing to support relief efforts can do so through their American Baptist church, through giving online, or by sending checks directly to International Ministries. Please designate your contributions “OGHS–Myanmar Relief” in the memo line of your check.
Checks sent directly to International Ministries should be made payable to International Ministries and mailed to:
Attn: Gifts Processing
1003 W 9th Avenue, Ste A
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Thank you for your prayers and financial support.
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The Committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work, and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing the distribution of the annual OGHS offering received by churches.
International Ministries, also known as the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, works cross-culturally to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ and to proclaim, through both word and deed, God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life for all creation.