The cries of women and children fleeing for their lives rip loudly through the air of villages in northern Myanmar.
Since 2012, religious conflicts between minority militias and the Burmese Army (Myanmar's military forces) have not only put the most vulnerable at risk, but also directly targeted innocent families. Initial attacks and rebuttals triggered a nationwide persecution of Rohingya Muslim families that has resulted in both political oppression and physical annihilation.
That word, "annihilation", was chosen specifically. According to multiple reports throughout 2016 and 2017, the Burmese Army has devoted its forces to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim people group, often committing atrocities such as gang rape, torture, mutilation, murder, mass killings, and destruction -- including women and children.
Throughout 2017 until now, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim families have fled for their lives into the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Thailand, but many are still trapped in and around northern Myanmar.
By the grace of God, one of IDES' mission partners is able to reach these families that are trapped with emergency relief supplies and the hope of Jesus Christ.
"At first the team was planning to distribute the items at refugee camps in three regions, however before they distributed the materials, the government ordered the refugees back to their individual villages, so the supplies were then taken to 12 different villages which represented 445 families and 2259 persons," IDES' partner reported.
Against their will, the 445 families were forced to travel back to what was left of their villages, and back into the area at risk of more bloodshed, with only what they can carry on their backs. On top of the threat of violence, hunger, thirst, and exposure threaten their lives every day.
Thanks to your generosity, IDES was recently able to provide our partner with rice, potatoes, beans, fish, cooking oil, and other food items along with blankets, plastic mats, mosquito nets, and medicines for these 2,259 men, women and children. Although the items are a temporary fix, the assistance was welcomed with open hands.
Four local Christian leaders headed the distribution process, ensuring that equal amounts of relief supplies were taken to each of the 12 villages. These villages happened to be in regions that were previously unreachable for the four leaders.
"They were able to preach and pray before giving out the food and supplies," our partner said. "Most of the villagers had never heard of Jesus before."
In other words, this food distribution directly opened the door for the Gospel to be shared for the first time in this region.
The four leaders shared the following message with each of the families they served: "Your cries have been heard by God the creator. He motivated the hearts of Christians and they decided to help you. God loves you and me. He cares for you. He wants to save you not only from the present situation, but also from the sin and all the calamities of the world.”
Each of the distributions were completed successfully. The four leaders plan to return to the 12 villages on a regular basis in order to both provide more relief supplies and to share the love of Jesus.