Myanmar unrest continues, violence escalates
At least 38 people died on March 3, in Myanmar’s bloodiest day since the military takeover. One month into the new government, a total of 52 people have died in the unrest. Open Doors continues to closely monitor the situation of believers in the country as protests increase, violence escalates, and the church is thrust into tumultuous times.
“It’s been a month, and both the military and the protesters do not show any signs of backing down. As instability grows in Myanmar, so does our need to pray,” says Open Doors Communications Director for Asia Jan Vermeer. “With the growing violence, believers continue to be caught in between, and we are concerned for their safety.”
Church in the time of the coup d’etat
Vermeer adds that believers are adjusting to their new reality. “With increasing restrictions – both online and offline, with internet blackouts and night curfews, believers are finding different ways to be salt and light at this time and to continue encouraging one another.”
Daisy, another Open Doors local partner, says many churches in major cities have temporarily stopped physical and online meetings, but in the hilly areas, services continue. “Church is closed in Yangon, Mandalay and other major cities, while churches in the villages and hilly remote areas could continue the worship services. Churches in the remote Naga Hills continue worshipping.
“Churches in Kayah State have stopped meeting for fellowship at night because of curfew restrictions. Since the military coup, the church has closed their children’s fellowship, as naturally, children weren’t allowed to go outside. However, we hear reports of children being given money to shout and give water to protestors.”
“One partner church in Kalaymyo has stopped online streaming of worship and fellowship,” Daisy continues. “Spreading of information is becoming more difficult, so the pastors are struggling to inform and reach out to church believers. Now, as the believers are staying home, people don’t have work, businessmen are also home, so the tithe and donations in the church are also decreasing. Since, the people are now home, the real economic hardship will start.”
“We also hear of field contacts saying ‘no’ to communicating via phone calls due to the security risks. Because of the night curfew imposed by the coup, the night services are stopped because there is fear in the mind of the people.”
Pastor Thura* from Bago Division says “everyone is scared. I was worshipping with only a few people, but I am if afraid that the authorities would come and stop the worship.”
Despite these fears, the work of the Lord continues. “We are becoming more and more careful,” Daisy says. “We have a Bible study program for pastors from remote areas that continues once a week online. Connection isn’t always stable, but we press on.”
Continue to pray for Christians and churches during this time of unrest. Pray for wisdom and creativity in the way they worship, and for safety from harm.
Pray also for the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.
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