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Asian: Myanmarese (formerly Burma) Outreach


MgClapf (greetings in Burmese)! A good friend of mine is part Filipino and Myanmarese/(formerly Burmanese). Also, a UMM Student I've known for 5 years is from here too!

Win poses at the UMM Computer Lab on January 2005 during winter break

Post Christmas 2004 Asian Tsunami

  • Thailand: Burmese Tsunami Victims at Risk, from Missions Insider Report, February 28, 2005

  • "An estimated 3000 Burmese living in southern Thailand were killed by the tsunami, and thousands more lost all they owned. In the wake of the tragedy, few Burmese have benefited from the outpouring of aid in their area, largely because they fear being caught by authorities and deported if they try to seek help. Reports have surfaced of Thai nationals rounding up Burmese immigrants in the chaos following the tsunami in order to collect money from government officials for doing so. They also have forced Burmese immigrants to pay bribes for silence. ...
    Christian Aid assists a Thailand mission with a special outreach to Burmese immigrants. After the tsunami, native missionaries were among the first to recognize the precarious situation and great need of the Burmese."

  • Burmese migrant workers in the aftermath of the tsunami, from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development

  • Reccomended Resources


    Minnesotans caring for Karen people
    Local churches minister to persecuted Burmese refugees

    by Jeanette Murdock Corn
    To many Minnesotans, Myanmar (Burma) is a mysterious land of sun-drenched pagodas and brown-robed Buddhist monks. With its repressive socialist dictatorship and "closed-door" policy, the country has become so isolated from the rest of the world that it seems to have disappeared.
    For several Twin Cities churches, however, Myanmar's doors have opened. At St. Paul First Baptist Church, Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, and several other Minnesota churches, opportunities to minister to the people of Myanmar are becoming more readily available.

    -Karen Veterinarian
    Bill Englund pastors St. Paul First Baptist Church (FBC). His congregation's historic building stands at the corner of 9th and Wacouta in downtown St. Paul.
    A member of the American Baptist denomination, FBC has had strong ties with Burma for many decades. Those connections go back to 1813, when American Baptist missionaries Adonirum and Ann Judson initiated the church's Burma ministry.
    Today, thousands of Burmese practice the Baptist faith.
    Ten years ago, Winston Winn, a veterinarian from Burma's Karen ethnic group, responded to worsening conditions in Burma by immigrating to the U.S. Winn's grandfather had been an American Baptist pastor, and Winn had strong Baptist beliefs. After arriving in the Twin Cities, he began attending FBC.
    Gradually, other Karen Christians resettled in the Twin Cities and many also attended the church. By 2000, the church had become a center for Minnesota's Karen community.
    "Five years ago, things really began to change," church members say.

    -Karen worshippers
    The first group, which has 80 to 100 members, is more charismatic. For several years, it met at FBC on Sunday from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Although it is still associated with FBC, it recently moved to rented space on Selby Ave. where services are conducted in Karen.
    The second group uses more traditional Baptist worship. It has approximately 120 members and continues to meet at FBC at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. Its services are conducted in Karen and Burmese.
    Roughly 100 Karen also attend the church's 10:45 a.m. service, where average attendance is 220. Although other parts of the service are conducted in English, Scripture is read in English and Karen, and Karen singers frequently provide special music.
    For example, on Jan. 22, 17 adults and young people performed a Karen hymn and many wore traditional attire.

    Most Karen who attend FBC came to Minnesota from Thai refugee camps.
    A big influx came in 2004, when U.S. State Department restrictions for Burmese refugee immigration temporarily eased. That summer, the church received Karen immigrants at the rate of 20 per week.
    The church experienced some burnout at that time, and longtime church members looked around and wondered, "What are we becoming? Have we become a Karen church?"
    But the Karen, who are characteristically gracious and hard working, brought new life to the church.
    "First Baptist used to be a typical downtown church with an aging congregation and declining membership," Englund explained. When the Karen immigrants came, church members realized they had received a special calling, or opportunity, but they also understood that they could lay aside this ministry.
    "The church decided to move out of its comfort zone and we stayed there. As a result, our church has changed. We are not the same church we were five years ago," Englund said.

    -Getting settled

    FBC has sponsored a few immigrants, but Karen come to Minnesota primarily through sponsorship of World Relief, Lutheran World Relief and other international agencies. The church's primary role is to "respond to them after they get here and try to get them settled."
    Initially, the church puts together "welcome baskets" - laundry baskets filled with sheets, towels, household essentials, a rice cooker, and 50-pound bags of rice. With the help of volunteers from Five Oaks Community Church in Woodbury, it also collects and distributes used furniture.
    For new immigrants, housing is often a problem. "For awhile, we kept an apartment in our church basement," associate pastor Loren McLean recalled. "At one time, 25 Karen immigrants were living temporarily in the basement of FBC. Eventually, the fire department told us we couldn't do that any more, so we closed the apartment."
    FBC also sponsors English as Second Language classes and "Living in America" classes that teach basic living skills. Recently, instructors from Jane Addams School of Democracy taught classes about democratic government and U.S. citizenship. The church also has set aside money in a credit union CD as collateral for loans to responsible Karen newcomers who need to purchase cars.
    In efforts to support Karen immigrants in their first months of U.S. resettlement FBC is assisted by Woodbury Baptist, First Christian of Minneapolis, Five Oaks Community Church in Woodbury, University Baptist Church and House of Mercy, St. Paul.

    -Going to Myanmar

    In its ministry to the Burmese people, Living Word Christian Center (LWCC) has taken a different approach.
    In September 2005, the Brooklyn Park church sent a 12-member mission team to Burma's heavily populated capital city of Rangoon. Kent Otey, LWCC's missions pastor, led the team. Although Otey has made 16 previous journeys to Asia, this was his first trip to Myanmar.
    LWCC staff members Jim and Kristin Hammond lived in the Asian nation of Singapore for two years, Otey explained. While in Singapore, the Hammonds learned about a two hundred member Burmese underground church. This church runs a Bible school that ministers to 125-150 students from Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. All students at the Bible school have identified calls on their lives to preach the Gospel and start churches in their native areas.
    The mission team's goal was to build up this underground church through teaching and ministry, to encourage the church's pastor, and to share the Word with students at the Bible school.
    Burma was unlike other places he has traveled, Otey said. Not only was there great spiritual hunger among Burmese believers. There was also great spiritual depth.

    "It seems like there had been a lot of spiritual seed. The seed of God's Word had been planted there in the past," he said.

    -Burmese believers also have great depth of prayer.
    "They don't have ready access to the Word, but they know the Lord from personal experience, and their theology lines up with Scripture," Otey said. "It does something to you to realize that there are believers in foreign lands that are walking more closely with the Lord than we are. Therefore, they're seeing an outpouring of the Spirit and manifestations of God that we're not seeing in America. It was just total unity, pressing into God. I've never been where it was like that."

    The underground church's pastor came to Rangoon from a northern tribe, the Chin. This group is experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and seeing many miracles.

    "The government is aware of what is taking place and is trying to prevent the spread of the revival by restricting travel to Chin. However, the revival continues to spread. No government in the world can stop something like that," Otey said. "We did everything God opened for us, and in about five or six days, we left. But we left totally changed because a love for the people was deposited into our hearts. It was a wonderful thing."

    Burmese believers

    The Burmese people cope with grisly realities. Their government oppresses them. Their soldiers destroy their crops and burn their villages. If they are Christians, they are driven underground. Sometimes, they are forced to run for their lives.

    Some have immigrated to a country whose citizens often describe themselves as "the Christian nation," but in reality, Burma's humble Christians have humbling lessons to teach Americans. Persecution has made them strong.

    Kent Otey describes the Burmese as "deep." Bill Englund simply says, "They have affected us."

    'To the jungle'

    "And then we went to the jungle," she said. Her brown eyes twinkle as she smoothes her softly striped longyi and shifts her boot-clad feet.

    Eighty-five year old Daphne Tun Baw, a tiny, well-educated member of Burma's Karen ethnic group, has "gone to the jungle" many times. Her eventful life illustrates the struggles the Karen have faced.

    "All of my family are Christians," she said. Two great-uncles were missionaries, and Tun Baw, who speaks fluent English, attended a British missionary high school in her native city, Thaton. Afterward, she went to teachers' college, and then spent one year in a remote Burmese village because her grandmother insisted that she give her first year of teaching to Christ.

    After completing her teaching service, she returned to Thaton, where she taught English in a girls' school until December 1941, when the Japanese invaded Burma and overwhelmed the British colonial government.

    "Everyone evacuated to the jungle," she said.

    When World War II ended, she moved to Tavoy, a river city. In 1948, when Burma gained its independence from Great Britain, she returned to her native town.

    One year later, the Karen revolution began. "The government ordered us to surrender. 'No surrender,' we replied. Back to the jungle," Tun Baw says, shrugging good-naturedly.

    In 1954, she married a former British naval officer, Daniel Tun Baw, who was a member of Karen's revolutionary army. Her new husband became ill with tuberculosis and spent two years at a hospital in the Burmese city of Syrian. When he recovered, he attended Bible college, after which he became a pastor in Namkham, a city in Burma's northern Shan state. While living in Namkham, Daphne and her husband brought up two sons.

    Daphne's husband died in 1974, but Daphne remained in Namkham until 1985, when she retired from teaching and returned to her native Karen State.

    Men were "at the front," but Tun Baw settled into a village that contained approximately 2,000 women, children and elderly. Three months after her arrival, however, the Burmese army attacked the area, and everyone was forced to flee across the border into Thailand.

    Tun Baw never returned to Burma. For 12 years, she lived in villages on the Thai-Burmese border, and then she moved to a Thai refugee camp. "For 20 years, I had no permanent house," she said. She immigrated to the United States in October 2005.

    Tun Baw's older son, Wilfred, came to Minnesota in September of 2000 and lives in northeastern St. Paul with his wife and three children. He is a coordinator for Vietnamese Social Services, a Karen sponsoring agency. In the past five years, Wilfred has helped 500 Karen relocate to Minnesota from Thai refugee camps, and he hopes to co-sponsor 2,000 Karen refugees in 2006.

    Tun Baw's second son, Daniel, came to the Twin Cities with his wife and six children in 2005.

    The family attends Karen services at St. Paul First Baptist Church.

    Tun Baw says that she feels at home in Minnesota's tightly knit Karen community and expresses gratitude to the U.S. government for providing refuge to the Karen people. As she grows accustomed to snow boots and winter weather, her spirit is unbroken, despite the hardships she has faced.

    "The [U.S] government told me to come to the United States and rest," she said. "But I don't want to rest. When my grandchildren come home from school, they don't know everything they need to know. I have nine grandchildren to teach. I have a lot to do."

    Her determination remains strong.



  • Burma's Almost Forgotten Christians find themselves battered by the world's longest civil war and a brutally repressive regime. By Benedict Rogers | posted 03/05/2004 from Christianity Today
  • Ministries

  • Myanmar Indigenous Evangelism , from Sherwood Oaks Christian Church in Indiana
  • New Life for Burmese People in Fort Wayne Indiana's New Life Church

    Current News

    Exclusive footage of Myanmar crackdown - 10 Oct 07

    "For almost two weeks, Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley saw first hand the popular protests against Myanmar's military government and the subsequent crackdown. Each day he filed reports as soldiers were ordered to open fire on unarmed protesters. Three Al Jazeera cameras captured the events as they unfolded in the largest city, Yangon. The scenes of repression show the violent treatment meted out to protesters. You can Watch Al Jazeera's exclusive programme 'Inside Myanmar: The Crackdown' at the following times GMT:"

  • Still Fighting for Freedom in Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand Sylvester Stallone, who has just filming the sequel to “Rambo” on the Thai/Myanmar border describes the situation as a “full-scale genocide” By Dan Wooding Founder of ASSIST Ministries Thursday, October 4, 2007

  • "...“The Karen, the Shan and other minority groups who live along the Myanmar-Thai border have been attacked, raped and killed by government soldiers. Their thatched-roofed, bamboo homes have been torched. Men have been seized into forced labor for the army, while women, children and the elderly either hide out in nearby jungles until the soldiers leave or flee over the mountains to crowded, makeshift refugee camps.”
    “Many, many thousands of Karen have died in those 60 years,” Karen National Union secretary general Mahn Sha was quoted by Elmore as saying this week of his people's struggle for autonomy since 1947....

  • Take action against Myanmar violence while the world watches Posted: 11 October, 2007 (Mission Network News)

  • "...WEA says the situation in Myanmar is "extremely urgent." They reported that the death toll could be as many as 200 and cited other reports that claim the government has burned bodies of the dead as well as the wounded. Buddhist temples have also been raided in order to round up monks and activists."

    Human Rights

  • ABC Nightline, did a coverage on 5/5/05 on Burmese Human Rights

  • -Earth Rights International


  • Burmese Language, from Norther Illinois's Southeast Asian Studies
  • Military

    -World War II

  • Burma in WWII, from WWII Database

  • " Landings in Burma commenced on December 8, 1941, the first day of the war. An independent Burmese army that was agitating for Burmese independence accompanied Japanese troops. The Allies under General Joseph Stilwell fell back to India, where resistance was organized for both China, India and Burma.
    The Chindits, a specially trained jungle fighting force under British General Ord Wingate, was dropped into Burma in 1943. They attacked Japanese supply lines and were sustained by gliders. The fighting was bitter, and most of the Chindits, as they were called, suffered either battle wounds or disease. A similar American unit, Merrill's Marauders, followed the Chindits into the jungle in 1943. Merrill had several heart attacks during the campaign. "

  • China Burma India Theater of World War II, from Wikipedia

  • "# March 10, 1942 Stilwell is named Chief of Staff of Allied armies in the Chinese theatre of operations.
    # March 19, 1942 Stilwell’s command in China is extended to include the Chinese 5th and 6th Armies operating in Burma after Chiang Kai-Shek gave his permission.
    # March 20, 1942 Chinese troops under Stilwell engage Japanese forces along the Sittang River in Burma.


  • Info Please

  • "The ethnic origins of modern Myanmar (known historically as Burma) are a mixture of Indo-Aryans, who began pushing into the area around 700 B.C., and the Mongolian invaders under Kublai Khan who penetrated the region in the 13th century. Anawrahta (1044–1077) was the first great unifier of Myanmar."
  • Wikipedia

  • "In 1989, the military junta officially changed the English version of the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar, along with changes to the English versions of many place names in the country, such as its former capital city from Rangoon to Yangon (which does represent its pronunciation more accurately). This decision has, however, not received legislative approval in Burma[2]. The official name of the country in the Burmese language, Myanma, was never changed. Within the Burmese language, Myanma is the written, literary name of the country, while Bama or Bamar (from which “Burma” derives) is the oral, colloquial name. In spoken Burmese, the distinction is less clear than the English transliteration suggests."


  • Densu Ministries
  • World Christian Resource Directory
  • WINK

  • WINK-Home Myanmar

    "Mission to Myanmar WINK-home 2006"


  • Burmese Music, referred from Wen
  • Resources

  • Christian Witness to Bhuddist, from Lussane's gospelcom
  • Testimonies

  • Buddhist Monk Raised, an amazing story!
  • Travel

  • Lonely Planet, travel info
  • Myanmar Tourism

  • Return to UMMAlpha: Asian Homepage

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