As bad as the COVID pandemic was in India which I wrote about just a few months ago, it is now more than twice that bad in another Asian country based on the number of deaths per capita. And COVID deaths are thought to be drastically undercounted, so the situation is actually much worse.
What is causing the surge there? And what does this have to do with Asian Access?
I’ll answer the second question first. Asian Access has been conducting leadership development cohorts in this country for several years. And right now, we have a matching grant to help them and others facing this and other crises. Every dollar you give will be doubled toward assisting them to face their challenges.
Coup and COVID
You may recall that Myanmar’s military staged a coup and took over the government in February. The COVID surge might have been prevented except that vaccinations, which had started less than a week before the coup, slowed down and then stopped until late July.
On top of that, the military targeted more than 600 medical professionals who were part of the resistance to the military takeover. They fear showing up at hospitals and clinics to help with the pandemic because of the likelihood of being arrested and imprisoned. According to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the government has staged at least 260 attacks on medical personnel and facilities, killing 18. At least 67 have been detained.
The military is also limiting the distribution of oxygen and vaccines to those who are pro-military. Yanghee Lee, the U.N.’s former Myanmar human rights expert, said to an AP reporter:
“They [the military government] have stopped distributing personal protection equipment and masks, and they will not let civilians who they suspect are supporting the democracy movement be treated in hospitals, and they’re arresting doctors who support the civil disobedience movement.”
Many are convinced that the military government is using the pandemic to consolidate power and crush opposition. Those in power are more interested in staying in power than in helping their fellow Burmese people.
A2 Leaders Impacted
I learned just today that one of the participants in the Myanmar Asian Access leadership development cohort died of COVID. While this is sad news, others in the cohort are standing strong and making a difference.
One of our alumni, Champo* (his name has been changed to protect his identity), was incarcerated for trying to help with the pandemic and falsely accused of insurrection. He was beaten by his captors, trying to force him to make a false confession.
Today, he is an inspiration in the prison as the pandemic is spiking and hit the prison hard. Despite being beaten, Champo has helped the nurses and doctors serve those who are dying and has reached out to friends outside the prison to bring desperately needed oxygen.
Champo is the type of leader you are empowering through your support for Asian Access. How do we do that?
We prepare leaders to face crises more successfully, whether it’s the COVID pandemic, persecution, or natural disasters. And because our cohorts prepare participants to lead another cohort, even more leaders are prepared to lead the Church and their communities to face the emergencies the world throws at them.
A Matching Challenge to Help These Leaders
Your gift of $50, $100, or $200 today will be used to empower more leaders in Myanmar. And don’t forget, your gift will be doubled by the matching grant for even more leadership development. Not only that, but your gift will also be further multiplied as prepared leaders develop even more leaders.
And you will not only be helping the people of Myanmar, but everywhere in Asia where Christians are being persecuted or facing other catastrophes. For example, just prior to hearing from Myanmar, I received this message from another country which I can’t name:
"I am sorry I did not contact you and give an answer for your emails for a while because the [Government] was chasing me tightly since February. The situation inside is worse and worse as you also know."
Persecution of Christians is a reality in most of the countries where Asian Access ministers. Unfortunately, nothing we can do will stop the persecution. But with your help, we can prepare leaders to minister in a way that their congregations thrive through persecution and even reach others for Christ.
Thank you for being so faithful in your prayers and encouragement. Our alumni feel your support. They frequently tell me how grateful they are for your prayers and financial support!
And thank you in advance for praying and for prayerfully considering doubling your giving to help our persecuted brothers and sisters in this most pressing hour of need!
Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.President, Asian Access
P.S. Both the pandemic and persecution will likely get worse before getting better. But your gift, doubled by the matching grant, can make a difference in how well our brothers and sisters grow in Christ through it.
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Developing Leaders Under Persecution & Pandemic – Every dollar given will be matched!