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'Pray for Burma' 

A Baptist church in Lancashire is bringing the plight of Burmese Christians to its local community after a pastor was killed and another arrested

Burma is burning

Trinity Baptist Church in Fleetwood has created a poster for its church wall stating Burma is Burning – The World is not Watching. Myanmar is the more formal name for the South East Asian country.

The church has become acutely aware of the persecution of Christians in Myanmar through a family in its fellowship.

In recent weeks a Baptist pastor has been killed and another arrested as the ruling military target religious leaders, leading the Baptist World Alliance to issue the following statement.

The Revd George Ayoma, minister of Trinity Baptist Church, said, 'We designed the poster last week during one of our Friday prayers where we learned about the killing of the Baptist pastor and prayed for his family.

'It will be going up on our church wall facing the main street this week. We want the good people of Fleetwood to respond to this and be in conversation with us here at TBC, as we feel that simply praying in the safety of our church building is only a small but vital part of standing with those who have already suffered and lost far too much in Myanmar.

'We picked up the concern for Burma at the start of spring this year, through a lovely family here at church, so we get plenty of regular weekly updates from them on what’s happening on the ground in the country. 

'We are maintaining our support through prayer and financial giving as we continue to learn about the unimaginable suffering of the gentle people of Burma.

'If others could pray, it could bring comfort and a little relief to those who fear the world might now has forgotten about their daily struggle and existential plight.'

The country has been destabilised after the military took control in a coup in February.

The arrest of the Revd Thian Lian Sang, pastor of Falam Baptist Church in Shwe Mandalay, took place on September 16, according to the BWA. He was taken away by armed men in plain clothes in front of his house between 40th and 41st streets.

Following his arrest, members of the State Administration Council (SAC) entered his home, and confiscated 400,000 kyats which the family had received for the funeral of the minister's father that had been held on August 25, 2021. These members of the SAC also confiscated five cellphones, including the phones of his wife and mother.  

The arrest is compounded by additional troubling reports of human rights violations and the intentional targeting of religious leaders in Chin State, the BWA continued. On September 18, more than 19 houses were burned down by military forces. Baptist pastor the Revd Cung Biak Hum attempted to help as one of the houses belonged to a member of his church. 

Instead, upon his arrival on the scene, he was shot and killed by military soldiers–making him the first Baptist minister to die due to the ongoing conflicts. The military soldiers also stole his cellphone, watch, and cut off his finger in order to steal his wedding ring.

'We call for the immediate release of Rev. Thian Lian Sang,' said the BWA. 'We also call for those who killed Rev. Cung Biak Hum to be held legally responsible, and we ask for restoration of the homes burned by the military.

'With 1.7 million Baptists in Myanmar who have a continuous history of over 200 years in the country, the Myanmar Baptist family remains a key part of both Myanmar and the Baptist World Alliance family.

'While addressing these immediate injustices, we further call upon the military junta to do all that it can to restore religious freedom, human rights, and peace through dialogue across Chin State and Myanmar as a whole.' 


Baptist Times, 01/10/2021
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