I ran out of time to finish this, so to be continued....
"This morning dawned cloudy in the borderlands between Thailand and Burma, but as the sun breaks through, the beauty is breathtaking; high, rugged mountains; thick green jungle; rich fertile valleys surrounding freeflowing rivers. The beauty is so exhilarating it nearly makes us forget why we are here. It seems almost impossible to believe that this apparent paradise is a place more like hell for hundreds of thousands of people around us. The conflict of emotions caused by the contrast between the beauty of the land and the enormity of the tragedy of the oppressed and displaced people nearby is made even more acute by another bittersweet contrast - the brutality of the regime which inflicts immeasurable suffering on countless suffering victims: dignity in deprivation; generosity in destitution and a love that transforms brutality into miracles of grace." (Taken from the book "A Land Without Evil")
I was thinking that I'm not sure everyone that reads my blog has a very good picture of where we really are and what we're doing. In the past I felt like I couldn't speak very freely due to safety issues, but, at this point, it isn't really a problem with where I'm staying right now. So I thought I'd give a little better explanation of where we are and the situation over here for those who are interested.
We're living in Thailand at the moment, right near the Burma (Myanmar) border. This map shows Karen State (inside of Burma - the white part) which is what we border.
At this time, we're mainly serving the Karen people, mainly the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) here along the border on the Thai side.
Kawthoolei (Karen State), which literally means a 'land without blemish', has long been a land with mines and a killing field. The Karen people living in Burma have been forced to flee a military dictatorship. And, not only that, but the Burmese Army is set on exterminating the Karen (and all other ethnic minorities) as a people group. War and killing have been a regular part of their lives for the past 60 years, but they haven't given up. This is the longest lasting civil war in history. The KNU (Karen National Union) fights mainly only in self-defense. They don't want to fight, but this is what they are forced to do to protect their homes and families.
Karen State is a beautiful place where I have lived and worked before. They'd had the threat of attack for a while in the area I was in, but just recently (after I left - in June) the Burmese finally did attack, conquered the KNU and took over the area. We had to evacuate the Karen school that was over there (approximately over a hundred kids) and move them across the border into Thailand.
In the KNU's own words, they desire Kawthoolei to be a Karen State with the right to self-determination. They want all the people to be given democratic rights, politically, economically, socially and culturally. They want to have freedom and quality of all religions. Burma is, at this point, one of the least developed countries in the world. Incidentally, about 40% of the Karen are christians, while the remaining number are either Buddhist or Animist.
My family's living in a house right along the border (about 500 yds) right now. They're specifically doing medical work with the villagers nearby and also supporting and directing the school that was evacuated from Burma and is now located right next door.
To be continued...
"...To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free... To deal they bread to the hungry, and to bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked that thou cover him..." Isaiah 58:7,8