Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 20, 2015

A Place to Call Home

Among the Rohingya People near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

In the closing sequence of “The Wizard of Oz,” young Dorothy, who is longing to return to her home in Kansas, speaks one of the most memorable lines in the story — “There’s no place like home!” Dorothy’s words are true. There is no place like home. Just the mention of home can excite our hearts, especially when we have been far from our homes for any period of time.

Yesterday, our team had an opportunity to connect with our partners who work among the Rohingya people of South Asia. I first learned about the plight of this displaced Muslim people group a few years ago while traveling the long stretch of road between Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf in southeastern Bangladesh. The Rohingya people live in squalor along that thin stretch of Bangladesh squeezed between the Bay of Bengal and Myanmar.

Rohingya Lady at Tent
Who are the Rohingya? They are a displaced people who have had to flee persecution in their native Myanmar only to face more persecution wherever they go. Things turned bad for the Rohingya in 1982 when the government of Myanmar (once known as Burma) passed a law that denied them of their citizenship. When that law went into effect the Rohingya also lost their freedom of movement and any access to education and medical care. To make matters worse, the Burma Citizenship Law also allowed for the arbitrary confiscation of Rohingya property.

Rohingya Lady Hand Up
Since that time, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar in search of refuge in nearby nations. The problem is, nobody wants the Rohingya. And, because they have no way to prove that they are or were citizens of Myanmar, they are unable to gain citizenship status anywhere else. Without citizenship they have no access to jobs, housing, education, and basic services like water and sanitation in the countries to which they have fled. They are also denied legal protection from arrest and abuse. The Rohingya people are totally vulnerable wherever they happen to live.

Rohingya Kids at Tent
Most Rohingya live a hand-to-mouth existence, barely making it from day-to-day. The families we spoke with survive by fishing in the Bay of Bengal and selling whatever recyclable items they can manage to gather. We visited one family of eight that lives on less than two dollars a day. The faces of these family members bear the unmistakable signature of desperation. These vulnerable human beings live each day not knowing whether their flimsy hovels will be torn down by the government, forcing them to leave and find another place to eke out a living.

Rohingya Black Tent
Three years ago, our missions ministry entered into a strategic partnership to address the needs of the Rohingya. We support national workers who walk among these displaced people in order to share the love of God and offer some basic humanitarian assistance. Little by little we are seeing some progress. Our workers have led many Rohingya (this people group is considered zero percent evangelized) to faith in Christ. And those who have come to faith in Christ now have a hope that can sustain them.

The Rohingya people deserve a place to call home. That is a basic human right. And they deserve protection under the law from those who abuse and exploit them. But, regardless of whether they ever return to their homes in Myanmar, one thing is certain — through Christ they can have the hope of a home in heaven. In the meantime, we remain committed to loving the Rohingya as Jesus would and to treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Please pray for the Rohingya.


Responses

  1. This really touches my heart. I pray for the Lord’s mercies to be poured out on them. Thank you for going and being the eyes of Jesus that noticed them and honored them in this way. May many more come to know Jesus and His comforting presence in the midst of their rejection and trials in life. Praying for the Rohingya.

    • Thanks, Cathy. I appreciate your prayers for the Rohingya.

  2. This is the article by Omar

    Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2015 03:43:47 +0000 To: granna4@hotmail.com

  3. Thank you for this touching blog! Everyone needs a place to call home. For some it is not that simple and it forces us to recognize how fortunate we are and how spoiled we are. I pray for these people!!! Thank you for this education.

    • Thanks for praying for the Rohingya, Reecie.


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