Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pray for Myanmar

I confess to not knowing as much about Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as I should. When a catastrophic event like a cyclone occurs and takes so many human lives my heart is moved and I grieve over the death of so many and for the suffering of the survivors. As you have probably heard by now, "Cyclone Nargis" raged through Myanmar this past Sunday killing over 22,000 people! There are twice as many still missing. Truly staggering. Reuters reported:

Myanmar cyclone toll climbs to nearly 22,500
Tue May 6, 2008 10:04am EDT
By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government raised its death toll from Cyclone Nargis on Tuesday to nearly 22,500 with a further 41,000 missing, nearly all of them from a massive storm surge that swept into the Irrawaddy delta.

Of the dead, only 671 were in the former capital, Yangon, and its outlying districts, state radio said, confirming Nargis as the most devastating cyclone to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people died in Bangladesh.

"More deaths were caused by the tidal wave than the storm itself," Minister for Relief and Resettlement Maung Maung Swe told a news conference in the rubble-strewn city of five million, where food and water supplies are running low.

"The wave was up to 12 feet high and it swept away and inundated half the houses in low-lying villages," he said, giving the first detailed description of the weekend cyclone. "They did not have anywhere to flee."

Myanmar, a country of 50 million people, has had a military dictatorship for it's government for the past 60 years. It is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia and it's people have suffered all sorts of hardship during this time. AIDS is a major health problem there, as well as a myriad of other diseases. The life expectancy in Myanmar is 63 years old. Religiously the country has been predominantly Buddhist, much like India. There are several Christian missionary efforts presently going on in Myanmar, however, the estimated amount of professing believers is less than 4%. The country is backwards and purposely isolated.

I am praying this catastrophe would open the door for Christian disaster relief efforts which would allow for a more permanent place for such missions in that country. I am also praying for the Church that already exists there, that they may be used of God to be the hands and feet of Christ to their suffering countrymen, particularly those who have been worshiping the false gods of Buddha. May this humanly tragic event be the catalyst for the saving of many souls and the glorious growth of Christ's Church in Myanmar.


Frontier Forest said...

Understanding why must be left in our Sovereign Lord’s hands. “Lord Jesus, have mercy upon those as they endure such unbelievable suffering. May millions be drawn to YOU through this tragedy beyond words.”

pjw said...

A disaster of this proportion is almost beyond human comprehension. And I have heard that--that the government is very secretive and relief workers are concerned about being able to get to all those who need help.

Rick Calohan said...

On December 26, 2004, I stepped foot in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. After spending a day on Masao Beach in Butuan City, Philippines, with my then fiancée, now my wife Dorothy and her family, when we came home we learned of the Tsunami that effected Indonesia and all along the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean. Sadly, throughout most of the third world, these disasters are all too common, and government and private means of relief often will end up in the hands of corrupt officials.

This cyclone will not only effect Burma, but also the Philippines, a nation that after World War II emerged as the most stable economic and political nation in Asia. The Philippines was the worlds largest exporter or rice, now finds itself in a dire peril because of greed and corruption have turn many fertile lands to grow rice into prime real estate for land development. Now rice that has been grown in Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam but originally developed in the Philippines is now being imported making the Philippines the world’s largest importer of rice. The price for rice has doubled in recent months. A 50 kg (110 lbs) bag of rice that sold on the market for 1,200 pesos ($30), now goes for 3,000 pesos ($75). Sadly the average Filipino is lucky if they earn 300 pesos a day and in the provinces like where my wife is from 180 to 200 pesos a day, or $4.50 to $5 a day. My wife was a bookkeeper at a bank working 60 hours or more a week 5,500 pesos a month, which with the exchange rate back in 2004 was $100. Now that is not 40 hours a week, but 48 to 60 hours a week is a national average six or seven days a week. The average Social Security recipient in the Philippines has to wait until they are 65 years old and only then receives 3,000 pesos a month.

Thanks to the geniuses in Washington to appease Iowa Corn Farmers, who have been and continue to turn a precious commodity corn, which is a vital staple of Mexico, Central America, and South America into fuel, which in turn has also increased food prices there and in America where most of our beef, pork, and chicken are corn grain fed.

While humanity cannot stop natural disasters, we can do something to ease the burden in the nations who are not as blessed as the United States. Of course, our government in concert with the UN will provide assistance where and when needed. We can start by using common sense approaches to end the wanton waste that takes place in this country in order to ease the burden. No, this is not a blame America first speech. Only those of us who have traveled to some of these nations know first hand how well even the poor among us in America have it compared to the rest of the world.

C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
John Calvin in concluding prayer from his sermon on 1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
"Seeing that God has given us such a treasure and so inestimable a thing as His Word, we must employ ourselves as much as we can, that it may be kept safe and sound and not perish. And let every man be sure to lock it up securely in his own heart. But it is not enough to have an eye to his own salvation, but the knowledge of God must shine generally throughout the whole world."

Missions to the World, the mission outreach of the PCA has a nice Asia quiz for those not familiar with the region.

Frontier Forest said...

Outstanding wordly advise, Godly wisdom and some might powerful spiritual thoughts from Brother Rick.