Missionaries in Burma are continuing to do their best to bring the good news of Jesus in the midst of a "battlefield."
The country, also known as Myanmar, has been faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and then a bloody coup early in 2021.
A local ministry leader speaking with Mission Network News says, "The situation is very bad – we are in a battlefield, every day there is killing."
The military took over the country on February 1. “After this coup, everybody is frightened, so we pray – I think everybody is praying more than before,” the ministry leader says. “Because everybody has no work, no job, no office, nothing, it encourages us to love each other. We are more united, so we share things with our church members. In our church, when someone doesn’t have food, we call each other and we share with each other. We show Christian love more.”
Despite the difficulties, missionaries are doing their best to spread the gospel. “They were able to reach many people,” the leader says about reaching out to local ethnic groups. “The rest of those spreading the gospel are mostly in towns and cities. There are some pastors who are always on Facebook, always preaching.”
Originally worship gatherings were banned due to the pandemic and churches began to meet online. However, the military has since banned online worship gatherings as well.
The ministry leader tells MNN that he's been left to check in with congregants on the phone. "I call them on the phone and encourage them, and they look good in their spiritual life,” he said. “And in rural areas, they also pray, but I am not sure how they will be – some look stronger than before, they say they pray every day, but other weeks, they may become weaker."
In some areas where the fighting is the worst villagers have fled to the jungle, including graduates of the ministry's Bible school.
"This year the situation went from bad to worse because of the military coup,” the ministry leader said. “The contribution from local churches is much less in the last three months. Now many of our people lost their jobs and are displaced. The monthly offerings we used to get have dropped, as many of our members are struggling to find their daily food."
Many also fled to India where they contracted COVID-19, and then returned and infected others, he says. “Within the last two weeks, more than 30 people died; many hundreds have got the virus,” he said. “This is an alarming situation. Many of our dear ones, church members, are getting sick.”
Churches and other groups are caring for the sick as doctors have joined in civil disobedience. "We only have a very few medical workers and doctors. We don’t have enough oxygen. We are in great fear. We pastors are going here and there to find oxygen. We can’t lock down ourselves, since we need to help some of our members.”