Burma (Myanmar) has been devastated by the deadliest natural disaster in living memory. When Cyclone Nargis hit on Saturday 3rd May the destruction was magnified by a storm surge which sent a wave 3.5 m high across the low-lying Irrawaddy Delta region, flattening homes and cutting power-lines. The Christian minority, numbering nearly four million, has been severely persecuted for decades and Barnabas Fund is sending aid to ensure that they do not miss out on the help they need at this time of crisis.
The main city, Rangoon (Yangon) is one of the five regions declared disaster zones. In Bogolay, a city of 190,000, an estimated 95% of the homes have been destroyed. In rural areas, where many Christians live and where building materials are often bamboo or wood, the damage is assumed to be even worse than in the cities where buildings are of brick and concrete; help has not yet reached most of these areas. Many coastal villages have been virtually obliterated. The death toll is currently estimated at 22,000 but expected to rise. Up to a million people could be homeless, and vast rice-growing areas have been destroyed.
The repressive military junta which rules Burma has a track record of merciless persecution of ethnic minorities, amongst whom are many Christians. Forced labour and forced relocation have resulted in many deaths. Some of the persecution focuses specifically on churches and Christian activities. Read more about the situation of Christians in Burma with this magazine article Link or view a copy of "Christians in Burma" - a booklet exploring in greater depth the plight of Burmese Christians - Download it here or order it from our online shop under "Free Resources".
"As we pray for all the people of Burma at this time of crisis, let us especially remember our Christian brothers and sisters," says Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund. "They have endured many years of persecution, faithfully and courageously. Pray that as this further trial comes upon them, they will be given great grace."
Can your church help our brothers and sisters?
In this context of Christian persecution, Barnabas Fund is working with our partners in Burma to ensure that Christian victims of the cyclone receive help, as international aid pours into the country. Already the Rangoon-based team is sending out pairs of workers to different areas, taking funds to purchase emergency relief. The greatest needs at the moment are rice, drinking water, salt, medicine and blankets. Costs of items and transport are hard to estimate because the crisis has already hugely increased the price of food, petrol and other commodities. Later it will be necessary to rebuild or repair houses (our partners' initial estimate of the cost is $100 per household).
If you would like to help Christians victims of the cyclone in Burma.
To donate online please click this link using our secure server. (Please quote project reference 75-745)
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. (Please quote project reference 75-745)
If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for addresses of our regional offices. (Please quote project reference 75-745)