The news of the cyclone that hit Myanmar causing massive destruction and loss of life is all over the front pages of the news this week. Many people probably are not familiar with Myanmar. On the maps the news reports are showing Myanmar shares a border with China, Laos, India and Thailand. It is a nation slightly smaller than Texas. It is a major rice producer. Most people probably have heard of it by its old name, Burma. The Burma Road was a vital supply line to China in World War 2. Burma was also the destination of Adoniram Judson and his wife, Ann, in 1812. They were the first western missionaries to Burma. Judson spent the rest of his life there. It was a hard and unforgiving place to minister. Most of his family died there. He worked for six years without a convert to the Christian faith. He dreamed of finally building a congregation of just ten people. He translated the Bible into Burmese and worked on an English - Burmese dictionary. Much of his work was with the Karen people who live in the south of Myanmar close to the Thai border. His life and ministry is told in rich detail by Courtney Anderson in the book, To the Golden Shore.
Many of these Karen people have been fighting for democracy for years against the military rulers of Myanmar. Hundreds have fled the country as refugees and are living in the US and other countries. Burma was colonized by the British in the 1800s. In 1948 it became independent and since then has been ruled harshly by a military junta. There are few freedoms and any resistance is severely dealt with. Recently, the resistance of Buddhist monks was crushed violently. The Myanmar rulers are secretive and suspect any outside interference as subversive to their government. So they have been slow to welcome aid for the cyclone victims. You can dontate to the relief effort through many agencies such as World Vision, Food for the Hungry and the American Baptist mission board which has had a longstanding mission presence on Burma/Myanmar at www.abc-usa.org