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Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in Myanmar (Burma)

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, June 23, 2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Myanmar (Formerly Burma): Population: 55.2 million, Christians 4.4 million

It was one year ago today, when the Burmese military (the Tatmadaw) overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected government. The military moved quickly to detain both President Win Myint and democracy icon Aung Sung Suu Kyi, and to prevent the new members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) from being sworn into power. While Burma is no stranger to ethnic and religious violence from its hardline nationalist military, the nationwide conflict that would follow was less expected, leaving nearly 1,500 dead and almost 400,000 displaced. This coup is once again tearing open the wounds of ethnic and religious violence that the country has tried to close so many times.

In June 2021, ICC released a report, Caught in the Crossfire, which explored many of Myanmar’s Christian groups who are currently under threat from the junta’s campaign across the country. Now, over six months later, we reflect on the impact this conflict has had on three of Myanmar’s largely Christian populations, and what steps have been taken to alleviate their struggle and the struggle of all being affected in Myanmar. 

One Year Later 

The military coup was met by outrage by the international community and instigated widespread protests and civil disobedience within Myanmar. After protestors took to the streets, they were met with harsh resistance by the new junta’s security forces, which quickly became violent. To defend its supporters, a new opposition government was formed, the National Unity Government (NUG), and with it the Peoples Defense Force (PDF). The newly formed PDF allied itself with many of the country’s ethnic armed groups (EAG), who had experience resisting the military’s aggression against their ethnic territories. Many of these EAGs represent significant Christian populations within this Buddhist nation. 

While this current conflict was not instigated to persecute the country’ Christian and ethnic minority populations, Myanmar’s Christians and ethnic minorities have been impacted heavily by the junta’s violent campaign of suppression. In the junta’s attempt to break the pro-democracy movement, they continue to target religious and ethnic minorities in the country’s outer regions who have resisted the junta’s leadership.  

This resistance from the ethnic regions of Myanmar comes as no surprise, as the country had been on a tumultuous pathway toward a civilian-led democracy – which has now been derailed. Myanmar’s ethnic regions have pushed for various levels of autonomy since its independence and have regularly been challenged by the Burmese military since the military’s initial coup in 1962 – instability has reigned since. In response to their current resistance to the 2021 coup, the military has targeted these regions through coordinated shelling, pillaging, and burning of homes and churches. 

Chin State 

Significant assaults have been conducted in Chin state, particularly around the city of Thantlang. As a non-Bamar and predominantly Christian region, Chin State has long been targets of the military’s ‘Burmanization’ campaigns in the 1990s. This history of conflict has caused scores of Chin people to be displaced to places like Malaysia, Thailand, and India. This history of conflict made it only likely that this would end up a significant front for the regime’s attempt to suppress its opposition. 

According to Chin Human Rights Organization, it is estimated that between September 2021 and January 2022, 727 homes and structures have been torched by the junta, including seven churches and a dozen other religious buildings in Thantlang. On January 3rd alone, the Tatmadaw burned more than forty structures in the now abandoned Thantlang, including Gospel Baptist Church and the congregation’s living quarters. Also among the assaults was the burning of the United Pentecostal Church, the church of the Vice President, Henry Van Thio.  

Over the past month, the junta has continued to torch the city of Thantlang, leaving many to believe they are looking to clear space for the brigade’s camp, however more obvious is their disregard for anything sacred – this has led them to the killings of many civilians. Tragically among them was Pastor Cung Biak Hum, who was killed by the Tatmadaw after the soldiers shelled at least 19 homes and a government building in Thantlang. At the time of his death, he had come out to help put out the fire for another church member. 

Chin State has remained one of the epicenters of the conflict as many Chins have fled the daily fighting between the PDFs and the military. The number of people fleeing the violence has risen dramatically since the fighting began in April. 

Kayah State 

In Kayah state, home to the Karenni people, there has been increased fighting between local defense forces and the Tatmadaw, particularly around the capital city of Loikaw. The region has seen increased airstrikes and artillery shelling against civilians, displacing almost half of the population of the capital. UN sources estimate that more than 650 houses and civilian structures in Kayah, including churches and schools have been burned or destroyed since May of 2021. 

At least 15 parishes in Loikaw Diocese in Kayah state have been severely affected by the increased fighting, while at least seven Catholic churches in the area have been hit by the attacks. It is estimated that 170,000 people have left their homes in Kayah, and aid groups have struggled to support these now displaced persons, many of whom are taking refuge on Myanmar’s eastern border with Thailand, however still not out of harm’s way.

In Kayah State, we also witnessed one of the military’s most terrible atrocities, the Christmas Eve massacre. Here more than thirty people were burnt alive despite Christian calls for peace over the holiday.

Kachin State 

Kachin State represents one of Myanmar’s heavily Christian regions, who has been in and out of conflict with the Burmese regimes for decades. Having been geographically far from Yangon, the Kachin Independent Army resisted the Tatmadaw for years. However, its 2011 ceasefire has since crumbled and over 100,000 Kachins had been displaced from their homes, even before this current conflict started, leaving them vulnerable across the region.  

Even as the Tatmadaw’s early focus was around suppressing the protests and solidifying its power in Naypyitaw, it never stopped its attacks on Kachin Christians. As early as February 28, the Tatmadaw raided a Kachin Baptist Church in Shan State, arresting eleven members of the congregation; they were released a day later, but only after severe beatings. Kachin has continued to see the harassment of Christians and pastors as the conflict prolongs, leaving many new internal refugees to seek refuge there and in neighboring Shan state.  

Given the conflict’s scale and the likelihood that it will be prolonged, the region needs assistance that will have immediate impacts. Humanitarian assistance for those suffering throughout Myanmar and in regional refugee camps is critical. ASEAN and the West must coalesce other nations to find ways to pressure the regime to end their violent campaign and institute a path toward federalism that can better protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. The junta’s promise of new elections now seems unlikely, as their violent campaign and conviction of their opposition has tanked their credibility, leaving us convinced that they would avoid a free election. 

  • Pray that the Lord will convict the Military Junta and give them a desire for peace and reconciliation
  • Pray that the Lord will intervene and bring a peaceful resolution to the ongoing civil war.
  • Pray for those who have left Buddhism to follow Jesus—that God will strengthen, encourage and protect them.
  • Pray that all believers in Myanmar will receive and enjoy fruitful fellowship with other Christians.
  • Pray that the Lord will stretch out His hand of protection over the churches and houses targeted by the military
  • Pray for healing and hope as the level of trauma among Christians is reaching crisis levels, men are killed, and survivors are left in despondency over the future.   
  • Pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen their faith and that Christians and remain joyful under suffering.    
  • Pray that the Lord that believer will be protected when reaching out giving the Gospel to Buddhists.
  • Pray that NGOs work in the country will bear fruit. Pray for continued protection and wisdom for our partners who must in high-risk areas.  
  • Pray to the Lord that many believers in the endangered areas will go through persecution-preparedness Open Doors training.
  • Pray to the Lord that He will encourage church leaders who struggle with the horrific memories of the violence inflicted by the military.
  • Pray that the displaced villagers who fled to the mountains will find food and shelter.
  • Pray to the Lord that governing bodies of neighboring stated will allow refugees to enter and find protection.
  • Pray to the Lord that He will add to the number of believers in spite of the tumulus times that challenge Christians.

Again, we want to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord: 

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in Myanmar

5/20/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in a prayer call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch. 

Myanmar: Population 54.8 million, Christians 4.3 million [8%]

Religious nationalism is especially strong in Myanmar and drives much of the persecution of Christians. There is an increasing emphasis on Buddhism, to the exclusion of all other religions. Converts to the Christian faith often face persecution from their families and communities for leaving, or “betraying,” the system of belief they grew up in. Communities who aim to stay “Buddhist only” make life for Christian families impossible by not allowing them to use community resources such as water.

Well-established churches have been attacked, and in some instances, Buddhist monks have invaded church compounds and built Buddhist shrines inside. Non-traditional church groups experience opposition too, especially those located in rural areas and/or are known for evangelistic activity. The government tries to act against extremist Buddhist monks, but sends mixed signals, since it has become clear that extremist monks enjoy the support of the army.

Myanmar is the scene of the longest civil war in the world, which began in 1948. Although much media attention has been given to the plight of Rohingya Muslims, the ongoing war against insurgent groups—which affects, among others, the states of Kachin, Karen and Shan (all of which have a strong Christian minority)—have gone largely unnoticed. The predominantly Christian Chin State was also affected by fighting. Christians are vulnerable to persecution by insurgent groups and the army, and more than 100,000 Christians in the north live in Internal Displacement Camps (IDPs) where they are deprived of access to food and health care.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought added challenges, since many Christians are deliberately overlooked in the distribution of government aid.

Myanmar has jumped one place from last year, reflecting the ongoing severe persecution facing many Christians. Converts continue to encounter tremendous hostility from family and the local community, while believers remain caught up in the fighting plaguing the states of Kachin, Shan and Karen, all of which have a significant Christian population, as well as predominantly Christian Chin State.

Christians in Kachin State, in the north of the country, are especially exposed to persecution. Due to the ongoing fighting, more than 100,000 people—mostly Christian—are living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, most of them for years, and humanitarian access to them is blocked. Fighting continues as well in neighboring Shan State, which has a large minority of Christians, especially in the north. Chin State, which is predominantly Christian, has also been the site of a great deal of conflict.

From the coronavirus to cyclones, few have faced the litany of scourges confronting the Rohingya people today. While we must assist the Rohingya to weather these storms, we cannot forget why they find themselves in such vulnerable circumstances in the first place. Almost three years ago, the Myanmar government unleashed a campaign of violence forcing the majority of the Rohingya population to flee. Now is the time to call these crimes what they are: genocide.  

In the span of a few days in May, nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in mega camps in Bangladesh faced the arrival of the coronavirus and the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal. The coming monsoon season threatens flooding and landslides. Hundreds more Rohingya are stranded at sea after being turned back from the shores of Malaysia and Bangladesh. Many are feared to have drowned.

This is the result of decades of persecution and the Myanmar military’s campaign of murder, mass rape, and destruction in late 2017. This Tuesday will mark three years since that mass expulsion. As these anniversaries accumulate, there is a real danger that the international community will grow accustomed to their passing. These atrocities cannot become just another chapter in the long history of state violence in Myanmar. Genocide is the gravest crime a government can commit. Accountability for that crime is essential if the Rohingya are to ever feel safe in their homeland.  

Villagers with animistic beliefs take vengeance against Christians, claiming they are angering the local spirits. Church gatherings and church buildings are allowed in many parts of the country, but tolerance varies from state to state. Active believers who share their faith face difficulties. Within tribal groups, families oppose conversion and new believers are subject to close government monitoring. Buddhist monks have actively opposed new Christian converts and evangelists. Pastors face arrest and are usually held for a few days at a time.

Bibles can be purchased and owned legally in small numbers, but most people cannot afford them. While bookstores in large cities sell Bibles, they are unavailable in many regions. Most Burmese Bibles are smuggled into the country.  

  • Pray to the Lord for the military to return power to the civilian government leaders.
  • Pray that the Lord will intervene and bring a peaceful resolution to the ongoing civil war.
  • Pray to the Lord to protect the church leaders who are often targeted by Buddhist extremists and paramilitary groups.
  • Pray to the Lord to disqualify the power hunger generals using the military for their purposes.
  • Pray for those who have left Buddhism to follow Jesus – that God will strengthen, encourage and protect them.
  • Ask that all believers in Myanmar will receive and enjoy fruitful fellowship with other Christians.
  • Pray to the Lord that all the internally displaced people, including Christians, can soon return to their native homes.
  •  Pray for NGOs like VOM to distribute church materials, Bibles and provide training to Christians and provide emergency shelter and food.
  • Pray for the release of all Christians imprisoned or held captive, and for the safety of all Christians as they go about their daily lives.
  • Pray for the protection of church buildings and safety for the worshippers
  • Pray for special protection of converts from the Buddhist faith, that they can withstand pressures from family and community.
  • Pray to give the persecuted the ability to pray for and forgive their persecutors. 
  • Pray for the medical outreach teams.
  • Pray that the Lord will continue to mightily add to the numbers of believers and have His hand of protection on the church.

Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:

  •  Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018, pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  •  Pray pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped and now waiting for a visa to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Special Guest Speaker: Missionary to Burma

5/15/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Prayer Warriors, Persecution Watch will host a special guest, Sara S. Zondag, a missionary to Burma (Myanmar). We invite you to hear from this dear sister on tonight’s prayer conference call.

Background:

Sara grew up in the church in rural Wisconsin. After working as a genetic counselor for a few years, she felt called to move overseas to volunteer with some Christian organizations. Sara has been based in Chiang Mai, Thailand since 2011 and has been involved in church related projects in Thailand and in cross-border medical projects with the Karen ethnic group in Burma.

Since the end of World War II, Burma (or Myanmar) has been the site of political unrest. For most of this time the country has been ruled by a military dictatorship. Myanmar has many ethnic minorities that tend to live in the border areas of the country. The main minority groups – the Karen, Shan, Kachin, Chin – have faced fighting from the Burma Army. These ethnic groups have a large proportion of Christians. Missionaries to Burma came in the 1800’s and the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of people from these groups. Missionaries were expelled from Myanmar in the 1960’s, but the church has continued to thrive within these areas.

On February 1st, Myanmar experienced a coup. In 2015, the military regime allowed democratically elected leaders into power, with limitations. Following repeat victories by these non-military leaders in the country’s 2020 elections, the military decided to retake governmental power by force and has been committing atrocities on people from their own Burman ethnic group as well as increased attacks on ethnic minority groups. 

Prayer Points

  • A miraculous change of heart from these military leaders, soldiers, and police who are attacking their own citizens.

  • For the Burma Army to end their attacks and bombing on the Karen, Kachin, and other minority groups.

  • Safety for the internally displaced people and refugees that these attacks are creating.
  • Courage for the believers in the face of all this difficulty.

We will also Pray for: 

Leah Sharibu and Alice that they will be set free from Boko Haram captivity.

  • Leah Sharibu was kidnapped along with 109 other students on February 19, 2018 when Boko Haram attacked a boarding school in the city of Dapchi, Maiduguri Diocese, in north-eastern Nigeria. A month later, some of the girls died in captivity and all the others were released, except Leah. She was the only Christian in the group.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped during the Rann attack on March 1, 2018. She was a nurse working with Unicef and is a mother of two.

Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison, for his family, the children, and the church in China. 

  • On December 28, the police raided the Early Rain Church and arrested Pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, and ten elders of the well-known 750-member church for holding “illegal” services. Some 100 believers were detained, questioned, and later released. Pastor Wang’s wife was also released. Pastor Wang remained in detention.

Anita, an Iranian Christian, persecuted by the Islamic regime seeking asylum.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, for his release and his family as their persecution continues. 

  • Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at the age of 19 and leads a 400-member house church in Rasht, Iran. Since 2006, Iranian authorities have consistently harassed and detained Pastor Nadarkhani and his family. In 2010, the authorities sentenced him to death for apostasy before acquitting him in 2012. Pastor Nadarkhani was tried again in 2017 on false charges of “acting against national security” and promoting “Zionist Christianity,” for which he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. By July 2018, plainclothes agents raided Pastor Nadarkhani’s home to execute the sentence, beating and apprehending him and using a taser gun on one of his sons. He is now incarcerated at the notorious Evin prison near Tehran.

The harvest 

  • “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

The Lord’s servant,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call Leader

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Civilian Christians Killed amid Military Fighting in Western Burma

Photo: commons.m.wikimedia.org

Unknown whether caught in crossfire or deliberately targeted.

Burma (Morning Star News) – Burmese army jet fighters killed 21 civilians from the predominantly Christian, ethnic Chin group in airstrikes this month in western Burma (Myanmar), sources said.

In Paletwa Township, Chin state, the army on March 14 struck Meiksa Wa villages 2 and 3, killing 12 civilians, area residents reportedly said. Eight more died in attacks the next day on Wetma village, and one was killed in Pyaing Tain village, they said.

The Burmese military’s Members of Parliament said the predominantly Christian villages were targeted because army personnel believed Arakan Army (AA) rebels from Rakhine state, on Chin state’s southern border, had taken cover in them, according to Mai Thin Yu Mon, program director of Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

Another 28 civilians were wounded in the attacks, he said, adding that more than 1,500 villagers fled the areas as some of their houses were burned down.

Chin Christian leaders and local residents said that, based on past persecution they have endured at the hands of the military, they suspect army personnel fired indiscriminately at the villages in part because the inhabitants were Christian. Under the previous military regime, troops came to their villages and systematically persecuted the Christians in order to impose Buddhism. Prior CHRO reports have outlined how Burmese troops destroyed church buildings and persecuted Christians.

Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a military spokesman, reportedly said that government troops were returning fire at AA rebels, and that it was unclear which side caused the civilian casualties.

“We used fighter jets and helicopters in military operations, but it is difficult to tell [if the fatalities] were caused by the jets,” he told The Irawaddy. “When we use the jets, we take more care and aim only at the enemy’s location.”

Encouraging Buddhism to try to unite Burma’s disparate peoples, the Burmese government has long persecuted Chin Christians for their faith. Many ethnic Chin retain their ancestral animist beliefs and practices, though today most are Christians, according to the Joshua Project and other sources.

Amid fighting in Chin state’s Paletwa area and in Rakhine state, unarmed ethnic Chin are targeted by both sides. The Rakhine people are predominantly Buddhist. CHRO’s Mai Thin Yu Mon said AA soldiers also attack civilians when they suspect Burmese army soldiers have taken cover in their buildings.

“Sometimes, the AA’s soldiers said that they were informed that the government soldiers stay in the villages, so they opened fire into the villages,” he said. “So villagers got injured because of those indiscriminate attacks.”

Though religious buildings and properties are commonly seen as safe places in Burma during armed fighting, local residents said that both Rakhine rebel and government troops take over Christian churches to use as shelter and cover during offensives.

CHRO condemned the Burmese military for indiscriminate attacks against ethnic Chin, Christian villages in a press statement. The rights group added that both government forces and Rakhine rebels commit abuses such as demanding money from the Chin, arresting those who cannot pay and using them as human shields in battle.

AA rebels recently kidnapped three Chin villagers who were not able to meet their demands for rice bags, Mai Thin Yu Mon said.

“The villagers were released after three days of detention,” he said. “But they were ordered to provide 20 bags of rice. The rebels have been extorting money and foods from Chin villagers since 2015.”

There are more than 2,600 Chin villagers taking shelter in the Samee Internally Displaced Persons camp in Chin state, including 20 pregnant women, he said. An estimated 90 percent of the IDPs are Christians.

“IDPs in the Samee camp also urgently need food, clothes, blankets and medicines,” May Thin Yu Mon said. “We are collecting donations for them. Some individuals who are ethnic Chin singers also donated some money.”

The Rev. Dennis Ngun Thawng Mang of the Chin Baptist Convention said he had received word of the attacks on the ethnic Chin, Christian communities.

“We are preparing to provide some financial assistance,” he said. “We are also trying to meet Burmese army officials. We will ask them not to harm our Chin Christian communities. We will ask them to protect our Chin Christian communities.”

Burma is about 80 percent Buddhist and 9 percent Christian. The country is ranked 19th Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Tonight on Persecution Watch: China, Burma and India (12/21/19)

 

(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear prayer warriors, the Lord is manifesting His power all over the world. The enemy knows it and like a roaring lion he is enraged and on a rampage to devour any one who is rejecting the love of God. However, he was given no power to touch any of the Lord’s elect!

(John 3:17-21) “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Now more then ever we are experiencing how close we are to the end. With the Lord’s leading, we will lift up the Church in the following nations on tonight’s prayer call.

China: Crackdown on Christianity Ramps Up 

Myanmar (Burma): Rebels Who Closed More than 100 Churches Allow 51 to Reopen

India: Christians Face Increased Persecution as Christmas Nears

I welcome you dear one’s to come as God’s Spirit leads you to intercede for our brothers and sisters and for the global harvest!!!

In Christ Love

Nadia Dybvik Prayer Call Moderator

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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin has led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also serves as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ.

Rebels in Burma Detain More than 90 Christian Leaders, Shut Down More Churches

Photo: Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Burma (Morning Star News)  After shutting down at least 10 churches in early September, ethnic Wa rebels in eastern Burma (Myanmar) have closed dozens of other churches and detained 92 Christian leaders and 42 students in a bid to curtail Christian activities, sources said.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) in late September detained the Christian leaders and students in territory it controls in Shan state, leaders of the Lahu Baptist Convention said in statement released on Tuesday (Sept. 25). Some students were also forced to serve as UWSA soldiers, according to the statement.

The 52 churches in Mong Pauk Township have been shut down, and the UWSA destroyed three church buildings and removed all Christian symbols such as crosses, according to the ethnic Lahu Christian leaders. A few religious schools also have been shut down.

Earlier in September, the UWSA troops shut down at least 10 churches, including six belonging to the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC).

“The Wa officials instructed Christians in Mong Pauk not even to worship at home these days,” a local Christian leader based in Keng Tung told Morning Star News on condition of anonymity. “So, some Christian members dare not to live in Mong Pauk any longer. They came to stay in Keng Tung town as they are fearful.”

Wa soldiers are holding arrested Christian leaders and students in Mong Maw town, a stronghold base of the Wa rebels, said Tat Jack, a local resident whose relatives are detained.

“My uncle is a preacher,” Tat Jack told Morning Star News. “He lives at a village nearby the Wa rebel base, Panghsang city. He and his son were detained in early September. But we are not allowed to visit them. We also heard that many members of the Christian community there are detained.”

Christian leaders have said the militants, who predominantly follow tribal religions, seek to reduce the spread of Christianity. Wa rebel spokesperson Nyi Rang told The Irrawaddy, a Yangon-based new outlet, that the UWSA had detained the Christian leaders because there were “extremists” among them.

A UWSA statement released on Sept. 13 stated that all church buildings constructed after 1992 would be destroyed or shut down, as they were built without permission from the UWSA’s leaders.

On a UWSA-run television program, it was stated that the UWSA has arrested and interrogated the religious leaders for violating organization regulations and laws prohibiting foreigners to serve as religious leaders in Wa-controlled areas. It also accused some detainees of forcing ethnic people to convert to Christianity.

Dr. M. Hkawng, chairman of an ethnic Kachin political party, the Kachin National Congress, has said that missionaries improve the lives of ethnic minorities in the Wa region, educating them and enabling them to travel to overseas to Japan, the United States and other countries to pursue their education.

Although most of the population in Wa territory worships spirits or Nats, there are also Buddhists as well as Christian communities such as Baptists and Roman Catholics. Many area members of ethnic minority groups, such as the Ahkar, Lahu and Kachin, as well as the Wa, are Christians, sources said.

Some Christians suspect Chinese authorities are behind the recent aggression against Christians.

The UWSA is the military wing of the United Wa State Party (UWSP), the de facto ruling party of the area. It was formed after the collapse of the armed wing of the Communist Party of Burma in 1989.

The UWSA announced its territory as the Wa State Government Special Administrative Region on Jan. 1, 2009, and although the government of Burma does not officially recognize its sovereignty, the Burmese military has fought alongside the UWSA against Shan nationalist militias.

Though de facto independent from Burma, the Wa state officially recognizes Burma’s sovereignty over all of its territory, and in 2013 the two parties signed a peace deal.

Burma is about 80 percent Buddhist and 9 percent Christian.

The country is ranked 24th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Two Pastors in Burma Detained More than Three Months Without Trial

Pastors Dom Dawng Nawng Latt (L) and La Jaw Gam Hseng. (Courtesy of Burma military

Burma (Morning Star News) – Two assistant pastors arrested by the Burma army have been jailed without trial for more than three months, sources said.

Pastors Dom Dawng Nawng Latt, 65, and 35-year-old La Jaw Gam Hseng were arrested on Dec. 24 after helping local journalists cover military conflict in northern Shan state, eastern Burma (Myanmar), where a Catholic Church building was bombed by Burma army jets in November. They are charged with unlawful association with an armed ethnic group, an accusation the Kachin Baptist Convention church leaders deny.

U Brang Di, attorney for the two pastors, told Morning Star News that normally suspects can be held for only 28 days without trial under Burmese law.

The prosecutor, Maj. Kyaw Zin Htun, has filed charges accusing the pastors of recruiting and spying for armed ethnic groups such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Under Burma’s Unlawful Association Act, the Christian leaders could face as much as three years in prison under Article 17/1 for making contributions to or assisting an “unlawful association,” and as much as five years under Article 17/2 for assisting in the management or promotion of one.

Brang Di said the case has been slowed by prosecution absences and the army’s effort to transfer the accused to a court in Lashio, in northeastern Shan state. Citing ongoing fighting between rebel and government forces in Shan state, the prosecutor sometimes has been unable to show up at court hearings, Brang Di said.

“The pastors can’t be detained for such a long time without trial, according to the law,” Brang Di said, adding that he was only stating the law, not complaining, as such delays are common in cases involving the army. “I will try my best to make them free in accordance with the law.”

The pastors on Dec. 24 went to the Byuha Gon military base to negotiate the release of a civilian couple who had complained to army officials about the destruction of their house, sources said. Military officials released the couple and detained the clergymen, they said, adding that the arrest was linked to the pastors helping journalists cover the bombing of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church building on Nov. 23-24.

The Unlawful Association Act, often invoked during Burma’s decades of rule by military junta to arrest suspected rebel sympathizers, is still used to stop Kachin state residents from making contact with KIA rebels, according to Radio Free Asia. Burmese and international rights groups have called on the government to amend or rescind the law so that Non-Governmental Organizations are not targeted under the act.

Armed conflict between Burma and ethnic separatist organizations erupted anew in northern Shan state in November 2016, forcing over 50,000 refugees in total to flee to other areas of the state and the border with China.

Zau Rau of the Kachin Baptist Convention in Muse Town, where the pastors are detained, said the KBC wants the trial completed as soon as possible.

“There is no development,” Rau said. “It seems they make the process long. We want the trial to begin soon.”

Also slowing the proceedings, he said, was the prosecutor adding charges to the case, most recently charging Pastor Latt with damaging the reputation of the army by allegedly telling media that soldiers burned rice stores belonging to civilians.

Human Rights Watch has decried the arrests as arbitrary and called on Burma to release the pastors immediately.

After more than five years of intensified conflict since Burma violated a 17-year cease-fire in 2011, many Kachin face protracted displacement and are desperate to return home, according to a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Burma army launched major offensives against the KIA for several months last year and took over several strategic military bases.

The KBC has provided aid to internally displaced people fleeing fighting between the government army and ethnic militias in both Kachin and Shan states, according to Radio Free Asia.

Burma is about 80 percent Buddhist and 9 percent Christian. The government has recognized the special status of Buddhism in Burma and promoted it as a means to consolidate support.

Burma ranked 28th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Burma (Myanmar) Military Offensive Displaces Kachin Christians

Prayer for displaced ethnic Kachin at the Kachin Baptist Convention’s office in Myitkyina, Kachin state capital. (Kachin Baptist Convention)

Burma (Morning Star News) – Artillery and air strikes by Burma (Myanmar) government forces on rebel bases in Kachin state in the past week displaced hundreds of ethnic Kachin, a predominantly Christian people long targeted in part because they are not Buddhist.

The Rev. Lama Yaw of the Kachin Baptist Convention, who visited areas near Mohnyin where the offensive intensified on Nov. 15, told Morning Star News by phone that 200 civilians took shelter in area churches after attacks by a jet, helicopter gunships and artillery against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Another Christian leader in Mohnyin told The Irrawaddy newspaper that some 300 villagers had fled their homes on Thursday (Nov. 19) and were taking shelter in his church.

Pastor Yaw said area Christians were shaken by the attacks, which continued through the week, as they have long seen civilians and church buildings targeted by government weaponry and soldiers.

“They dare not go to sleep at home as they fear unexpected attacks, because the Burma Army has done these kinds of attacks and abuses before,” said Pastor Yaw. “Some nearby villagers have gone to sleep at churches in Mohnyin town, as they fear random attacks by the Burma Army.”

After the Burma Army broke a 17-year ceasefire in 2011, by early 2013 the military had destroyed 66 church buildings in Kachin state, according to a 2013 report by the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT). After making Buddhism the state religion in 1961, the government has tacitly supported military atrocities against civilian Christians.

“I feel like they intentionally launched the attacks on the day when Christians held worship,” Pastor Yaw said, referring to the dramatic escalation on Nov. 15 of the offensive that began on a smaller scale the previous day. “Also in 2012, they launched intense attacks on Christmas Eve. They chose the day when ethnic Christians were supposed to enjoy Christmas celebrations with happiness.”

The Kachin are one of several ethnic groups vying for more autonomy, and advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that decades of conflict in the ethnic states have left hundreds of thousands of people internally displaced or as refugees in other countries.

“It is obvious that they oppress ethnic minorities who are Christian,” Pastor Yaw said.

The roots of conflicts with ethnic groups date back to the origins of the country. Before the formation of the Union of Burma in 1948, British rulers administered “Burma Proper” – where the Burman people lived – and “Frontier Areas,” where non-Burman ethnic groups lived separately. The Kachin leaders, however, agreed to join the Union based on the 1947 Panglong Agreement, which allowed great autonomy and the right to secede to the ethnic frontier states.

But with the assassination of Gen. Aung San, who was leading an interim government, and several of his cabinet members, the agreement was forgotten and continues to be violated.

Burma on Nov. 8 held its first general elections since the military junta quashed 1990 voting results, but CSW noted political reforms are still fragile.

“There are reasons for cautious optimism, but Burma continues to face many very significant human rights challenges, particularly in regard to freedom of religion or belief,” CSW notes on its website.

In the attacks near Mohnyin the past week, the KIA reported two of its soldiers were wounded and that it lost its Brigade 8 stronghold headquarters to the Burma Army. A government information minister reportedly said there are no plans to cease the offensive in Mohnyin, citing a need to “protect public security.”

The KIA has an estimated 10,000 troops and is the second largest armed, ethnic group. It was not among eight such groups that signed a ceasefire agreement with the government on Oct. 15. Other major ethnic group forces have declined to sign the agreement, including the Shan State Army-North, which has also been the target of recent Burma Army offensives.

Pastor Yaw said Christians in the state capital are praying for villagers living near Mohnyin.

“As soon as we heard civilians fled for safety, we held prayer and pray to God to protect them,” he said. “We are weak, and what we can do is keep praying and relying on God. We believe that God is capable to protect our people.”

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