Christians in Myanmar village reconsecrate church after military occupation

The soldiers reportedly used the structure "without any regard" and "did disgraceful things" such as throwing away Bibles and hymn books

A group of Christians in the village of Tal in Myanmar’s Falam area in Chin state reconsecrated their church after it was occupied by soldiers in recent months.

“Reconsecration” is the act or process of reclaiming a sacred space especially after it is used for other purposes than worship.

At least 40 Christian church leaders and faithful participated in the reconsecration worship service on August 28, said a report from rights group International Christian Concern (ICC).

The report said government forces in pursuit of insurgents have camped inside the church in the past months.

“The [government] soldiers used the building without any regard and did disgraceful things such as leaving trash and leftover food … throwing away Bibles and hymn books or using them for different purposes,” said the report.

“Given that the church was treated far beyond its dignity and could no longer be used for its purpose after the [soldiers] left, the church decided to re-dedicate [it],” said the ICC report.

“All of us got hurt and that’s why many of us from various church denominations gathered here,” the report quoted Rev. Dr. Joe Eh Zar Lai of the local Baptist Church.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has earlier denounced the country’s military for failing in their “leadership roles and responsibilities” in the midst of the political and health crisis.

In a homily during Mass on Sunday, the Catholic Church leader said the military leaders of Myanmar have only sown death and despair.

“The deaths and despair of the last seven months are based on the laws and regulations of the head,” said the cardinal, adding that these are pitted against the people’s “heart,” which symbolizes “love.”

“Go beyond the law into love: move from the legalistic, law-oriented mind towards love-oriented heart,” said Cardinal Bo.

He called on the people Myanmar to to rebuild themselves by “bringing the compassionate heart into our lives.”

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