Anglican Aid is focusing its COVID appeal on growing needs in Myanmar, with its partners on the ground struggling to provide for the medical and spiritual needs of the population. 

“We’re working with and through the Diocese of Singapore, which is managing the relief efforts for the Anglican Church in Myanmar,” says Anglican Aid’s projects team leader, Cameron Jansen. “Through our contacts we’ve sent $30,000 so far for the purchase of medical supplies: PPE equipment, oxygen cylinders, oximeters [which estimate oxygen saturation in the blood] and other things like back-up generators.”

“In the midst of dead bodies lying everywhere, may the living beings unite in prayer with one heart, one mind, one Spirit. May God help us! Amen.”

The money is going to emergency COVID clinics set up by the Church of the Province of Myanmar in the two most heavily affected dioceses – which are Yangon and Mandalay.

Anglican Aid has morphed its India appeal into a general COVID appeal, in order to respond to crises in countries such as Myanmar. According to the data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre cases have been declining in the country since July, however the Archbishop of Myanmar, Stephen Than Myint Oo, says numbers are likely to have been severely under-reported.

He told Anglican Aid that, “In the midst of immense suffering, I have no strength to utter a word. I feel like we are in World War III – not fighting against flesh and blood, rather fighting against the invisible threes: COVID-19 virus, powers and principalities of darkness, and self-centeredness (self-preservation). 

“In the midst of dead bodies lying everywhere, may the living beings unite in prayer with one heart, one mind, one Spirit. May God help us! Amen.”

The Rev Jackie Stoneman, who helped set up the Growing Hope charity in Myanmar, is in regular contact with women from Mothers’ Union as well as orphanages that the charity supports. 

Growing Hope has paid for an MU worker to be vaccinated and provided funds for an oxygen tank for one of the orphanages – which has had a number of COVID cases. Yet, sadly, the tank had the wrong fittings and couldn’t be used. An orphanage has also lost much of its income from raising chickens because all the restaurants are closed.

“That’s just an example of the sort of struggles they have... My understanding is that the country’s just overwhelmed and the hospitals are full,” she says. 

Her contacts also report the deaths of many Anglican and Baptist clergy. And for those still working, culture dictates that when someone dies, they visit the family’s home – with the body still in the house, COVID or not. “That’s very tricky and problematic for those seeking to fulfil their ministry but also stay COVID safe.”

Amid sickness, economic loss, fear and political instability, Mr Jansen says Christians in Myanmar need prayer for spiritual relief – that they would feel the Lord’s comfort, hope and peace, and be able to provide this to others when they go out into the community.

“Knowing with certainty that God has you in his hands, that Christ has your life and your future secure, are the kinds of things people in the church who are really struggling need to be reminded of, and that’s what people in the community need to see from the church,” he says.

To support Anglican Aid’s COVID appeal for Myanmar and future needs in developing countries visit the appeal page here.