Believers in Myanmar intensified their prayers over the weekend as the military retaliated against the growing mass protests with draconian changes to its penal code. There are further problems with the release of 23,000 prisoners. All names in this article have been changed for security reasons.
On a field in Chin State, 200 Burmese believers gather to pray for their nation
In further concerning developments in Myanmar, the military has introduced draconian changes to its penal code in response to the widespread protests engulfing the country following the coup on 1 February.
“Last Saturday [13 February], they [the military] announced a new law that revokes the basic rights of the people. Protest leaders across the country have been hunted down and arrested,” reports Daisy, an Open Doors local partner. “Since then, people have been living with anxiety and insecurity at night due to possible serious violations of basic human rights by the police.”
Christians are divided over whether to join protests but are uniting in prayer
Under the changes, those who obstruct the armed forces could face prison sentences of up to 20 years, whilst anyone who stirs up public fear and unrest could be imprisoned for between three and seven years. Those accused of spreading ‘fake news’ could face a three-year sentence. Amendments have also been made making it easier for armed forces to arrest, search and track people.
“The people of Myanmar feel very unsafe,” Daisy continues. On Union Day (a public holiday), the military government, in its first act of amnesty, released 23,000 prisoners, wreaking havoc across the country.
“During the night, the released prisoners tried to poison the apartment water tanks in several townships. That same night, they threw ‘fire rings’ and set fire to most streets of Tharkayta, Yangon. They also put poison in the drinking water pipes in NgaMoeYeik Township.
“The people had to build barriers around the streets to protect themselves from the criminals released by the military. Armed soldiers have also been patrolling the streets, which have made believers feel very insecure.”
Whilst Christians hold differing views on whether to protest, they continue to unite in prayer. “Two hundred believers in Chika village, Chin state, gathered to pray for the country in the village community field. After that, they rallied around the village and protested the coup,” Daisy shares. “From Yangon to Kalaymyo to Chin State – young and old, Pentecostal or Catholic – everyone has been on their knees.”
Dan is a believer from a Buddhist background. He is jobless due to Covid-19 and the military coup, leading to financial hardship for his family. Their pastor, an Open Doors partner, is helping provide them with food.
Elsewhere, Moi’s husband, a pastor, died a few years ago. Now solely responsible for their three children, Moi normally works as a porter, carrying goods across the border between Myanmar and India, but lockdown has brought this work to a halt. She is struggling to find work. Local protests have made this task even harder.
Please pray for Dan and Moi – and all other believers who are struggling to support their families at this uncertain and uneasy time – that God will provide for all their needs and strengthen their faith in Him.
Meanwhile, there is good news for Cherry. She is involved in a women’s entrepreneurship training whilst looking after students at an educational centre supported by Open Doors. She recently told Brother Paul, an Open Doors local partner, “During the pandemic and the coup, l made fermented soybean paste to eat and to sell. I can earn extra income and make ends meet, whilst still taking care of the children.” Give thanks to God for this vital source of provision for Cherry and the children.
Find out more about what it's like to be a Christian in Myanmar, and other countries where Christians face persecution. Your free World Watch List Top 50 booklet features testimonies from the persecued church and articles on the key trends to emerge from the latest report.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.