Tribal groups have had to raise up their own militia/armies to protect themselves as the Burmese army has destroyed 2700 villages causing 3.5 million of Myanmar’s total population of 48 million to be displaced. With numerous reports of rape, torture, forced labor, imprisonment and the killing of citizens over one million Burmese have fled into neighboring countries. An added 500,000 refugees live in border shanty towns in ‘no-man’s land’ just inside the Burmese border.
I was recently invited to accompany an evangelism team heading in to Thailand to train leaders, do outreach and evangelism amongst the youth and to identify projects where we could make an impact on this growing refugee population. During my visit I was introduced to Pastor Baw Gyee, a denominational leader training pastors, church planters and evangelists in Thailand and Burma towards reaching the Burmese and Tribal peoples in both countries. Baw Gyee was born into a wealthy family to a Burmese medical doctor (dad) and Karen tribeswoman. His father died and he was forced to support himself. He is no stranger to conflict as he raised fighting cocks, gambled and had confrontations with various city officials as he set up a number of businesses. Yet God miraculously saved him and called him to train his own people in reach Myanmar For Christ.
Many refugees pay a year’s salary to be ferried into Thailand by human traffickers. We were shown were thousands live in forests trying to survive and whole families were living in a cemetery. To assist them Baw Gyee began a clothing factory where he clothed, housed and employed 8 refugee families. They lived in the factory in a small 6 by 6 foot room and shared a bathroom, stove and other amenities. A second factory employs 14 families. We helped them purchase more sewing machines, cloth and equipment. Today I received word that every one of his employees has accepted Christ and was baptized – some after working there for 2 years.