Tuesday, May 19, 2015

RLPB 310. BURMA: terrorising the Christian Kachin

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 310 | Wed 20 May 2015

BURMA: TERRORISING THE CHRISTIAN KACHIN
-- plus, Sudan Update
By Elizabeth Kendal

It would not be unreasonable to think of Burma as the Sudan of Asia. In Sudan, an Arab-supremacist Islamist regime rules from the centre, marginalising the state's peripheral ethnic nations and persecuting them on racial and religious grounds.
click on map to enlarge
In Burma, a Burman (or Bama)-supremacist Buddhist regime rules from the centre, marginalising the state's peripheral ethnic nations and persecuting them on racial and religious grounds. When the oppressed and persecuted resist and demand their rights, these regimes spare no effort to crush them with extreme violence fuelled by deep-seated racial and religious hatred. Western silence is dictated by Realpolitik -- politics based on 'interests' rather than on morals and ethics. It is simply not in the West's interests to advocate for the victims of genocide in Darfur or the Nuba Mountains. Likewise, it is not in the West's economic or geo-strategic interests to advocate for the victims of violent persecution and ethnic cleansing in Burma when it has just opened its resources and markets to the West. To ensure Burma does not drift back into China's sphere of influence the West turns a blind eye to the persecution. However, nothing is hidden from God  for our God is 'el Roi' -- the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).

The Kachin nation (pale green on the map) are a Christian people living in Burma's mountainous far north where the Irrawaddy River has its source. Not only does the regime covet Kachin State's jade, gold and timber, it also wants to dam the Irrawaddy. If it is ever completed, the Myitsone Dam Project will be managed by the state-owned Chinese Power Investment Corporation (CPI) and will be generating hydroelectric power for China. Whilst the dam will cause the Kachin to lose vast swathes of land and more than 60 villages, the Burmese regime stands to make a great deal of money from it. Therefore what the regime really wants is Kachin State without the Kachin.
A Kachin IDP
In its war against the Christian Kachin, the Burmese army (officially known as the Tatmadaw) routinely targets harmless, defenceless Kachin civilians. Gross insecurity has driven more than 100,000 traumatised Kachin from their homes into IDP (internally displaced persons) camps sustained mostly by the Church. Peace is illusive. 'When the Burmese army talks about a cease-fire, they mean stopping shooting for a short while,' says Manam Tu Shan, a 67-year-old Kachin church deacon in Laiza. 'But what we mean by a cease-fire is living peacefully and being able to practise our traditions without the Burmese interfering.'

Humanitarian aid group, the Free Burma Rangers reports that on 19 January in Kawng Hka Village in Northern Shan State, two Kachin girls -- Maran Lu Ra (20) and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin (21) -- were savagely raped and then clubbed to death by Burmese soldiers. The girls, missionaries sent out by the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), had been asleep in the KBC church compound when they were attacked. Church members reported the crime but no action was taken. On 21 March Burmese soldiers shot and killed civilians Dau Ma La (52) and his 103-year-old mother, Da Shi Hka, in Mansi Township and looted their property. On 9 May Burmese soldiers shot Min Htet (40), a civilian farmer and father of two from the Mung Hkawng IDP Camp.  Min, who had been outside the camp tending to his pigs, survived the shooting only to be knifed repeated in the eyes and face by soldiers who then beat him to death. Though Hpaure Htu (30) was also shot, she managed to escape. On 6 May the Kachin Army clashed with Burmese troops near Mansi Township. A 'little bit of fighting' continued into the next day. Then on 8 May, while President Thein Sein was meeting with ethnic leaders to negotiate a national ceasefire, two fighter jets were bombing the Kachin into submission.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR 'THE GOD WHO SEES' TO:

* comfort and sustain Kachin families who are grieving the loss of loved ones brutally and savagely murdered; please pray specifically for the families of missionaries Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin and farmer Min Htet. May the Lord grant them that divine peace 'which surpasses all understanding', that it might guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

* intervene on behalf of the Christian Kachin, to protect and sustain them as a Christian people; may the Lord shield them, provide all their needs, refine and sanctify them, increasing their faith, that ultimately God will be glorified.

* graciously pour out his Holy Spirit on the Burmese Church to sanctify her and fuel revival.

* quicken the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of ethnic Burman Buddhists (including monks) so they will receive with joy the Gospel of peace, love, truth and salvation by grace.

* infiltrate the Burmese military through gospel literature, Christian radio and the Jesus film. 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality ... everyone who believes in [Jesus Christ] receives forgiveness of sins through his name.' (Peter in the house of Cornelius the centurion soldier -- Acts 10).

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SUDAN UPDATE: Middle East Concern has confirmed that the trial in Khartoum of Pastors Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36) [see RLPB 309 (12 May 2015)] commenced on 19 May. The prosecutor did not finish making his case, and so will continue when the trial resumes on Sunday 31 May. '... be constant in prayer' (from Romans 12:12 ESV).

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SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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THE CHRISTIAN KACHIN TERRORISED IN BURMA

Burma is ruled by a Burman-supremacist Buddhist regime that marginalises and persecutes all Burma's non-Burman and non-Buddhist peoples. Whilst the junta's long-running war against the Christian Kachin of Burma's far north is motivated by greed for the Kachins' resources, the Burmese military's extreme violence is motivated by deep-seated racial and religious hatred. In January two young Kachin women missionaries were raped and clubbed to death by Burmese soldiers in the Kachin Baptist Convention church compound in Northern Shan State where they lived. Civilians are routinely targeted -- over 100,000 have fled their homes. The West turns a blind eye to the persecution to protect its economic and geo-strategic interests and to ensure Burma does not drift back into China's sphere of influence. Please pray for the Church in Burma.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

RLPB 309. Sudan: Pastors Charged

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 309 | Wed 13 May 2015

Update: Middle East Concern (MEC) reports that while the court hearing took place on 13 May, the prosecutor could not produce his witnesses from Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Consequently, the judge postponed the hearing until Tuesday 19 May. Prayer requests remain unchanged (see below).

SUDAN: PASTORS CHARGED
By Elizabeth Kendal

After predominantly Christian South Sudan seceded from the Republic of Sudan in July 2011, Sudan's Arab-Islamist regime in Khartoum declared its intention to Islamise Sudan fully.
click on map to enlarge
The Islamisation includes a campaign of systematic persecution, especially in the strategic major centres of Khartoum, Khartoum North (Bahri) and Omdurman. Foreign Christians have been expelled, numerous Southerners have been driven out and several churches have been seized and destroyed.

In mid-November 2014 National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) agents oversaw the partial demolition of the Khartoum Bhari Evangelical Church, a property belonging to the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) [see RLPB 288 (26 Nov 2014)]. Then on Sunday 21 December 2014, Rev Yat Michael, an SSPEC pastor visiting from Juba, South Sudan, was arrested as he addressed the congregation at the partially demolished property.

Rev P.Y.Reith (MSN)
Then, on 11 January 2015, SSPEC pastor, Rev Peter Yein Reith, was arrested as he returned to his home at the Gerif West Bible School in Khartoum after a prayer meeting. It has been suggested that Pastor Reith was arrested because he had delivered a letter to the Office of Religious Affairs in Khartoum in which denominational leaders enquired about the arrest of Pastor Michael. Both pastors were taken to a secret location and held incommunicado without charges or access to their families or a lawyer, triggering grave concerns for their welfare. On 30 April the men were transferred from a police station in down-town Khartoum to a NISS detention centre in Khartoum, before being transferred to Omdurman Prison on Monday 4 May.

Both pastors faced the Khartoum Bhari Criminal Court on 4 May where they were charged jointly with undermining the constitutional system (Article 50 of the Sudanese Penal Code); waging war against the state (Article 51); disclosure and receipt of official information or documents (Article 55); arousing feelings of discontent among regular forces (Article 62); breach of public peace (Article 69); and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs (Article 125). Of the five charges, Articles 50 and 51 carry the death penalty or life imprisonment if found guilty.

Morning Star News (MSN) was able to speak briefly with Pastor Michael on 7 May. 'God will intervene and protect us even in prison despite the serious charges brought against us,' the pastor said. 'Thank you all for your prayers and concerns for us over this long period of imprisonment.' According to MSN, whilst NISS officials offered to drop the charges if the SSPEC paid $12,000, SSPEC will not open itself up to extortion. The pastors commenced a hunger strike on 28 April to protest their detention. Their families are understandably anxious. Pastor Michael's wife implored MSN, 'Let us continue to pray for them so that God can help them to be released.' The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday 14 May.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR

* JUSTICE: that the court will see the charges for what they are -- ridiculous, unfair and vindictive. 'For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong ...' (Isaiah 61:8a ESV)

* MERCY: that Rev Yat Michael and Rev Peter Yein Reith might be sustained and protected while in prison and then vindicated and released with all charges dropped. 'Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.' (Psalm 116:5 ESV)

* WISDOM: for all Sudan's Christians -- especially for church leaders -- that they will know how best to navigate the escalating repression and persecution. 'If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.' (James 1:5 ESV)

* DIVINE INTERVENTION in Sudan and in South Sudan, to bring war, corruption and religious repression to an end for the sake of the suffering church and millions who are harassed and helpless, lost and perishing, like sheep without a shepherd.  'The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.' (From Matthew 9:35-38 ESV)

* DIVINE GRACE to open the hearts of Sudanese Muslims to the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. 'For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.' (Ephesians 2:8,9 ESV)


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN WHOLE ARTICLE
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PASTORS CHARGED IN SUDAN

In November 2014 Sudanese security agents oversaw the partial demolition of the Khartoum Bhari Evangelical Church, a property belonging to the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC). Then, on 21 December 2014, authorities arrested Rev Yat Michael, an SSPEC pastor visiting from Juba, South Sudan, as he addressed the congregation at its property. When SSPEC pastor Rev Peter Yein Reith delivered a letter to the authorities in Khartoum enquiring about the arrest of Pastor Michael, he too was arrested. In court on 4 May, both pastors were charged with serious national security offences, two of which carry the death penalty or life imprisonment if there is a guilty verdict. Persecution in Sudan has escalated markedly since the South seceded in July 2011. Please pray for the Church in Sudan.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).