Burma is one of the leading countries where children are enslaved as soldiers. Military officers and civilian traffickers receive significant incentives for delivering underage recruits. Children are frequently taken from bus and train stations, markets, or other public places, and threatened with prison if they refuse to obey. They are cut off from communication with their families and sent to military training camps where they are beaten routinely and violently punished for attempting to flee, sometimes to the point of death.
Burma’s national army agreed to release children from their ranks in 2012, however progress has been incremental and recruitment continues. But they aren't the only army hunting children; numerous armed opposition groups also forcibly conscript minors. We know this battle is ultimately not with flesh and blood, but a dark spiritual war against children.
In one area of heavy recruitment, our contact shared that “children as young as 10 years old are taken by the army, the boys to be soldiers and the girls to be in supportive military roles. Many children run away to the Buddhist monasteries because the soldiers do not bother the monasteries. But if a child who ran to the monastery goes home to visit his parents and the soldiers find out, they will come right away to kidnap that child.” One brave couple has taken up arms to rescue these vulnerable targets.
Joseph* did not begin with this ministry in mind. He has a passion to see his people reached for Christ, and evangelizes in areas that are often hostile to Christianity. One day, as he was traveling to share the Gospel in a predominantly Buddhist area, a Buddhist couple asked him to take care of their two boys. They were terrified that their children would be taken by the militia. Joseph could barely take care of his own family, so he told them he could not care for two more children. Two months later, the boys ran to a monastery to hide. Joseph and his wife felt terrible, thinking they had wasted a chance to bring these boys to Christ; they inquired of the Lord if it was His will for them to take some of these children in, and felt His confirming "Yes." The next time Joseph went to evangelize, he accepted the two boys.
He soon realized there were many families in this predicament, but he could not afford to take them in. He and his wife were heartbroken when thirteen more boys sought refuge in the monastery and would be taught by Buddhist monks. Now they would not hear about Christ. This grieved them so much that it became a turning point for their ministry. In a huge step of faith, they opened their house to others who were afraid and wanted an alternative. They made the courageous decision to receive these children and trust God to provide for their needs, knowing they had no means to do it themselves.
Over 4 years later, that faith journey continues, and their testimony is of God's great faithfulness. They now care for 30 children; Joseph says that he still does not know each month how he can feed them all and pay for their school fees. But he and his wife pray, and each month the Lord faithfully provides for them.
These children have come to know the deep love that God has for them. Every morning and evening, they read God’s Word and spend time in prayer together. One of our contacts shared, “I have just returned from being with these kids, and they truly love Jesus. Their joy and smiles are contagious! Many of the children want to return to their homes and villages to be evangelists and share the Good News of Jesus in their communities.” Truly, God has turned the enemy’s plan to enslave and destroy these precious lives into His greatest rescue plan of all. Not only have they been saved from physical harm, but they have come into the saving knowledge of Jesus and now want to share His salvation with others!
More families have sought Joseph’s help, but he is completely out of room. We have an opportunity to purchase land on which to build a larger children’s home for approximately $75,000. Thanks to your help, more than $40,000 has been raised and we only have a small stretch to go. This opportunity will allow more children to be rescued and provide a safe, affordable housing solution long-term. Psalm 82:4 says, “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” We believe this new home will provide deliverance from the enemy's hand for many children, both physically and spiritually. If you would like to be a part of this rescue mission, please donate here and specify “Child Soldiers."
We see time after time, when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord raises up a standard against him. Thank you for being a part of that resistance by engaging in the battle for these precious kids through your prayers and gifts!
*name changed for security reasons