The nation of Myanmar has faced a wave of trials and tribulations this year.
Since the military takeover of February 1, Myanmar has been thrust into grave social and political unrest that has resulted in violence, disruption, and many hundreds of deaths.
Churches have been raided and believers have lost their loved ones and livelihoods. Meanwhile Covid-19 has claimed more than 10,000 lives, with cases and deaths spiking in recent weeks.
Finally, in the last few days, flooding has hit three states inside the country, displacing nearly 50,000 people and destroying crops and homes.
Brother Arkar* is a Burmese pastor who partners with Christian charity Open Doors and has seen all this first-hand. He has written a poem to share his grief with fellow Christians around the world and urge them to pray for a nation in crisis.
'The Coup, Covid and the cries of my heart'
There is a cry in my heart that is so loud, but I cannot hear
Every day, I long for the morning
I check to see my WhatsApp, FB, for news
And what I see, I hate
It has never brought me Hope and Good News
Only killings, death, suffering.
Refugees sent back, no food
Believers scattered and the shepherd is slaughtered
by the covid pandemic
The children cry but they do not know why
they have to flee their sweet home and live in the forest
Where there are no sweets, bread
only dry leftover rice,
and curry made of leaves
Filling the air
Of their empty stomachs
The forest leech and mosquito do not know what love is
The rainforest pours without mercy.
The quack of the ducks is the only music they can hear
Rice, medicine, mosquito nets
The needs are so high
How do I share this need?
There is much bloodshed, the covid pandemic rages
It is like a dream
I wish it was just a dream
The refugee has to return to be a refugee
The peoples who are looking for shelter were denied shelter
It's like being between the devil and the deep sea
I wish, at least, that they would be allowed to stay in our country
They have only their presence
Their clothes, and nothing else
I wish I could help them
with some immediate needs
but I have only little cash
So I hand them some money
that would last for two weeks' rice
I hear of other believers
who are refugees
but could not reach them
since my hand is empty
But my empty hands,
I can fold into prayer
Together, with them
That I could stand beside them,
I am thankful to God
There is an early calling bell
A message came early one morning, asking
'Have you known this pastor?'
And a photo was held out
I said yes
'He passed away due to covid,'
'No oxygen, he could not breathe'
'And could not survive'
Right then and there
I could not weep
But I cry deep down in my heart
They asked me for oxygen cylinders, concentrators
If we can provide or help them at least to save some lives
He was Father to his children
Pastor to the believers,
Husband to his wife
But I was empty
I wish we could provide some supplies somehow
I feel guilty
In the early stage of covid, if we had been alerted sooner,
And oxygen was given to our believers in Myanmar,
95 pastors may not have passed away
I am not sure how long this tragedy will last
Coup, covid, and now flooding in the valleys
Sometimes a call or a message comes from the field
Reporting the need for help
And I say,
Seems like a simple word
Easy to say, but in reality, is very hard to say
Because, at that time,
Their need cannot be met
I could not sleep
But just distributing some medicines is already bringing much relief
We are hoping to be able to help the family left behind by those pastors who died.
We cannot give the children their fathers back,
But we can stand beside them.
In His grape vineyard
for the voiceless,
*For reasons of safety and security, this is not his real name
Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for over 60 years and works in over 60 countries.