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‘Pray for the End of the Dictatorship’: The Cries of Myanmar’s Christians

Pleas to God for unity, justice, and the strength to survive.
‘Pray for the End of the Dictatorship’: The Cries of Myanmar’s Christians
Image: Getty Images / Stringer
A protester makes a three-finger salute in front of a row of riot police, who are holding roses given to them by protesters.

In the two years since the military coup in Myanmar began, the junta has killed nearly 3,000 of its own people and burned more than 100 villages. Fighting between the civilian People ’s Defense Forces and Myanmar ’s powerful army has intensified. The nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement and protests shuttered hospitals, schools, universities, and companies. Thousands of people lost their jobs as foreign companies left amid the turmoil. Food and medicine shortages have become part of everyday life.

“We have been facing financial, physical, spiritual, mental, and political struggles each day in Myanmar,” said KH, a pastor in Yangon. Many in Mynamar, also known as Burma, feel forgotten as the world ’s attention has moved on.

CT asked four Christians in Myanmar and in the Burmese diaspora to share both a Bible verse that has helped them persevere and their prayer requests. Two chose not to provide their names due to security concerns.

An exiled Christian scholar from Myanmar

The Bible verse helping him persevere:

Romans 5:1–11—Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Paul walked through many difficult things in his life, but in whatever condition he was in, he never lost hope. Even during the challenges he had in prison or during his missionary journey, he never lost hope in an unfailing God. Since I started facing government persecution, this text has helped me when I have faced suffering.

Paul’s words have also helped me to reflect on the experiences of Christians in our country. The Japanese came during World War II and persecuted ethnic Karen Christians, but those early Christians survived. Our country has been under military rule since 1962 and Christians faced many challenges, but they overcame them. When I read this passage and remember our past history, that helps me remain hopeful despite everything. We will overcome with the help of God.

What this Christian scholar is praying for:

• Two pastors I know who are in prison. One is sentenced to 23 years in prison, and the other is in custody and will be sentenced very soon.

Thantlang, a town in Chin State in northwestern Myanmar where many Christians lived. It has been reduced to rubble after the military attacked the town multiple times, as it was a symbol of resistance. About 15 churches have been burned to the ground. The 10,000 residents now live in makeshift camps in the border region by India. Many people have died from depression and trauma. Pray for God to give them the strength to survive.

• My country, which has been under brutal military rule for half a century. This time people from all backgrounds want to end the horror of military rule. Please pray for people who lost their loved ones and those who live in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. Pray for the end of the dictatorship.

KH, a pastor, seminary professor, and church planter in Yangon

The Bible verse helping him persevere:

Psalm 121—I lift up my eyes up to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

This verse has blessed me and my church in the midst of suffering. Our help comes from God who created the heavens and the earth. We ask him for help whenever we are in need. As he has promised us, he always answers our prayers. He is our God, our shelter, our protector, and our provider. He is with us in our sickness, suffering, and shortages. He knows our needs and hears our prayers.

Psalm 121 has been helping me face this depressing situation and struggles. It gives me comfort and joy even in the valley of death, knowing that God will surely bless us and deliver us from our suffering.

What hes praying for:

• Continued opportunities to share the gospel among Buddhist communities. Due to the chaos and suffering in Myanmar, Buddhists are more receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ because the military did not respect the teaching of Buddhism in their brutality toward the people. We conducted four gospel seminars last December among Buddhist communities. We shared with them the hope and peace we have in Christ Jesus who came to suffer for us and with us and who has delivered us from the suffering caused by sin in the world.

• God ’s provision for our financial needs to buy groceries and medicine. Inflation in the country is so high that we are always struggling to meet our daily needs. Pray also for the education fees of my children. Many government schools are partially closed, so we are praying for God to provide the means to send our children to private schools.

• Families in our church who are struggling to provide and lacking food as they have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the coup.

David Moe, expert on Buddhist nationalism, ethnic conflict, and reconciliation at Yale University, originally from Chin State

The Bible verse helping him persevere:

Psalm 23—The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. … Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

As a Christian, I always believe that in the midst of troubles and challenges, Jesus Christ is with me. I always see Jesus Christ as the Shepherd who is beside us, before us, behind us, within us. It strengthens my life in the midst of these troubles and challenges.

We are his sheep; he knows what we need. As a shepherd, he is our protector and provider. He gives us strength and shows us the way, even though we can ’t see the future. Passing through this valley of darkness and troubles, Jesus Christ is with me and I am with him.

What hes praying for:

• Give thanks to God for protecting and strengthening those who are fighting the coup on the ground. Two years of fighting is never easy. It ’s not just protesting an unjust government, but they are protesting against the military who have weapons and are killing them and burning their houses. But they ’re still strong and they ’re still brave to resist them. God is with them, and that is a good thing.

• The families of those fighting. Although they are not fighting on the front lines, they are also not safe. Pray that God will provide what they need since the situation is now entering civil war. These people are not coming back [home]; they will fight until they die.

• Unity among Christian ethnic minorities and people who resist the military regime

• God ’s justice, peace, and reconciliation will prevail in Myanmar.

Dave Eubank, director of Free Burma Rangers, currently in Karenni State

The Bible verse helping him persevere:

Romans 8:31—If God is for us, who can be against us?

This verse is so important anywhere in life, but it meant a lot to me in Burma because the Burma military is coming in with a speed and force we’ve never seen before. They are executing children and bombing churches—just this month a church very close to us here was bombed in Shan State.

In spite of the evil we see happening in Burma, we also see good. In our ministry of helping people with humanitarian assistance, we also have the opportunity to share about Jesus. We baptized 11 of our new Rangers this last training.

We start and end every program with prayer and an encouragement for people to follow Jesus. This has been a great opportunity to share this with people in need. There’s over 300,000 displaced people in Karenni State alone and currently more than 3 million newly displaced people since the coup.

What hes praying for:

• Unity in Burma. Not just the current unity that cuts across religious, social, spiritual, racial, and economic lines and is united against the regime. That’s good, but the second step of unity is being for each other and for a new democratic Burma where every ethnic group is respected and has rights.

• The resources to help people. We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars just in the last month trying to feed and shelter these people in Karenni State. The numbers are immense. And as opposed to the outpouring and helping Ukraine and recently in Turkey for the earthquake, very little help comes in here.

• The dictators’ hearts would change or they would fall.

Below is a video of ethnic Chin and Mizo Christians singing “We Are the World” to bring awareness to the situation in Myanmar.

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