A few years ago, I told "BreakPoint" listeners and readers the story of Burma's Christians, in particular the ethnic group called the Chin. As I said, "for many years, crosses dotted the mountaintops and villages in the Chins' homeland," which made sense in a region where 90 percent of the population is Christian.
That’s changing, not because the Chin have lost their faith—quite to the contrary. It’s changing because the Chin, along with other Burmese Christians, are the preferred targets of one of the world’s most brutal regimes. Things have not gotten better since that first “BreakPoint” broadcast. In fact, according to a leading British newspaper, things have gotten much worse. The headline in the January 21 Sunday Telegraph said it all: "Burma 'Orders Christians to Be Wiped Out.'" The story quotes from "a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry." The document, titled "Program to destroy the Christian religion in Burma," begins with the line "there shall be no home where the Christian religion is practiced."
In furtherance of this goal, the document provides its intended audience with "point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state." These instructions draw their demonic inspiration from the idea that "the Christian religion is very gentle" and, thus, its would-be eliminators should "identify and utilize its weakness."
While the ruling junta "has denied authorship of the document," it has "made no public attempt to refute or repudiate its contents." Given its track record, the junta could hardly repudiate its contents. Recently, reports have surfaced that, in one Chin Christian area, "300 [Buddhist] monks" were sent "to forcibly convert the populace." In another area, another monk, working on behalf of the regime, burned down a Christian church.
This is all part of a pattern of persecution, which includes "ethnic cleansing" of Christian minority groups, the destruction of villages, forced conversions, and even rape and murder. It’s part of the regime’s attempt "to create a uniform society in which the race and language is Burmese and the only accepted religion is Buddhism."
Christians in the West cannot sit idly by and let the Burmese junta get away with this. We must act and defend our brethren. The first thing we need to do, of course, is to pray. And then we need to educate ourselves about what is going on in Burma and educate other Christians, including our pastors, who should speak out from the pulpit, and, finally, our neighbors. Much of what is done in places like Burma is made possible because the world’s attention is diverted. Tyrants count on our being more interested in American Idol than in genocide when they formulate things like the Burmese "Program."
We must also hold our leaders and the leaders of other countries accountable. While the United States has no influence over Rangoon, China has plenty, and that influence, by all accounts, is not helpful. We must make it clear that “doing business” with China doesn’t include turning a blind eye to genocide. No amount of cheap goods at Wal-Mart is worth that price. Even if our options are limited, we owe it to our brethren to try. If the junta succeeds, let it not be on account of our silence.