Kachin State, Northern Burma
After every Sunday’s worship is finished, parishioners at the local Baptist church in Maga Yang IDP camp start moving their pews here and there. They push together five or six of them and lie out a grass mat on top and add a pillow and some blankets. They are transforming their church into the 24/7 prayer room for the soldiers up on Gidon Mountain, where the Burma Army has been launching an offensive for the last two and a half months. On either side of the podium is a curtain and every hour of every day there is someone behind that curtain praying for their soldiers. The church hall usually has a few others lounging around on the beds made of pews and waiting for their turn to go behind the curtain and pray for the Gidon soldiers. They have faith that their prayers are not in vain and it is God helping their men up on top of that mountain to be able to hold on.
In early October, God answered those prayers in a miraculous way. It was a clear day with blue skies all around; the Kachin could hear an attack helicopter in the distance approaching fast. About two minutes before the helicopter arrived, the very top of Gidon Mountain was completely wrapped in fog. The soldiers could hear the helicopter flying back and forth but without being able to see where the Kachin Army was, the helicopter had to turn around without firing a shot. Just after the helicopter left, the fog lifted and it went back to being a clear day. All the soldiers up there realized that had seen a miracle and thanked God for bringing the fog to hide them from the Burma Army.
In a large make-shift tent along the road to Gidon Mountain, there are 15 women working furiously: chopping, boiling, simmering, and stirring. These women are the cooks for the front-line soldiers; even more than just cooking for soldiers, they know they are cooking for their husbands and brothers that are defending Gidon Mountain. Every one of these women have a loved one up on top of the mountain defending the Kachin from the Burma Army. The meals are prepared with love and these women are fighting the Burma Army the best way they know. After the food is prepared, it is loaded onto the back of motorcycles and driven to the foot of the mountain. From there, it is loaded on to a team of mules and carried up the steep back side of the mountain for three hours until it finally arrives at the front line.
Up at 6,000 feet, surrounded by mountains that stretch over 2000 feet higher, lies an IDP camp where 650 men, women and children have lived for the last five years. At this elevation and this far north it get bitterly cold in the winter and last year they had a foot of snow. Established right on the border with China, this camp offers the IDPs some safety, as they know the Burma Army could not easily penetrate the mountains. This is an IDP camp that FBR have visited many times in the past. It is very secluded and not easy to get to which is why we feel a need to go visit this IDP camp and share what we have with these people. When the FBR team arrived this time, we were surprised to see them at work building new houses. A new church had also been constructed on the hill over the village. The head of the camp committee had asked if we could help fund a hydropower generator large enough for 100 homes. We asked them what if the war ended tomorrow, what would you do with this hydro unit. The camp leader looked at us and answered back, “We have been here five years already. We are busy constructing new permanent houses. We can’t keep living like we will go home tomorrow. Besides, for many of us, this is our home now and most of us would rather live here up in these mountains even if peace does come.” We were impressed by their resilience and their attitude of seizing the day and not waiting on someone else. We helped them with funds to buy the parts they will need to make the generator and the men volunteered to do the work for free as a way of benefitting their community.
The next morning we held a Good Life Club program in the camp with all the children. It was a delight to hear the children’s laughter and see their smiles as we played games and sang songs with them. We did our best to leave them with help, hope and love and will continue praying for these IDPs up in the mountains of Kachin State.