The Chinese Government’s treatment of Kachin refugees forces us to take a look at ourselves

The Kachin people of northern Myanmar (previously Burma) have been s

Dec 15, 2011, Christmas island, Australia: A boat carrying asylum seekers was smashed against the island’s jagged coastline; 50 died.

uffering for years at the hands of the military government of Myanmar. The systematic destruction of villages and killing and torture of thousands of people has been labelled genocide by many observers. The Kachin people are largely a Christian community. Many thousands of Kachin people have fled north, across the border, into China. This week the Chinese Government is forcibly returning about five thousand of the Kachin people back to Myanmar. Human rights groups are suggesting that many may be killed by the military when they return. Let’s pray for the Kachin people.

Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.

Hebrews 13:3

Western opinion is clear on the issue of the Kachin: the Chinese Government ought not return these five thousand Kachin people into danger. I have not read anyone who says otherwise. Yet the vulnerability of the Kachin perhaps sheds light on the questions plaguing our own refugee issues in Canada, Australia and the US. Recently for example the Canadian Government passed laws mandating detention for certain classes of refugees. These new laws approach (but not quite reach) the Australian Government’s internationally infamous ‘Pacific Solution’.  I can’t help wondering: how would the Chinese Government look if they followed our example – if the Chinese Government incarcerated every Kachin person who has fled across the boarder? We would think of that Government as heartless at best – even brutal. So as we pray for the Kachin people let’s also offer prayers of repentance and consider how we can offer the radical welcome of Christ to those seeking refuge in Canada, Australia and the U.S.


About Mark Glanville

Mark Glanville is a pastor-scholar who ministers in a missional urban community, Grandview Church, Vancouver. Mark is Professor of Old Testament and congregational studies at the Missional Training Center, Phoenix (, and he teaches at Regent College, Vancouver. Mark's research focusses upon the Pentateuch, biblical ethics, and mission. Mark has authored "Adopting the Stranger as Kindred" (SBL, 2018), "Reading Exodus: Society Reshaped by Kinship" (Lexham, forthcoming), numerous refereed articles (including in the Journal of Biblical Literature (2018), Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (2019), and Refuge Journal (2013)) and chapters on the Pentateuch, mission, and refugee related issues, as well as numerous popular articles. Mark is presently co-authoring a book, "Providing Refuge: A Missional and Political Theology." Mark is called upon to speak on in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. His previous career was as a jazz pianist in Sydney, Australia (Chick Corea and Wynton Kelly are his musical heroes).
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