It so happened that the day Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, I was traveling. I was in the car, then on an airplane, then on a train, then I was walking, then on another train. I had heard that she was released, and all day I was thinking: I am missing out on the Aung San Suu Kyi-freedom-day.
As I walked the streets of Oslo, waiting for my train, I wondered: What is she wearing? How does she look? Will she call her sons first? What is the first thing she wants to eat on her day of freedom? Did she cry as she walked out of the door of her house that has been her prison for so long?
I went to a small town in Norway to speak at a small church that consisted of about 50 people from Burma and maybe ten Norwegians, most of them retired. This morning I cried as I saw photos of Aung San Suu Kyi displayed on the pulpit and heard Chin, Karen and Burman refugees worship together—in Norwegian! “Yesterday was a day of joy,” I said. “The world’s eyes were on Burma and the Lady that was set free. We all rejoice in her freedom. But today we remember the ones who are still persecuted for their faith, their race, their political views, their culture, their skin color.Today we need to ask ourselves how we can use our freedom to fight for their freedom. Today we must remember them. And tomorrow we need to still fight for them. We live in a free country. Perhaps God has put us here to accomplish his plan for the persecuted people of Burma.”
I said that and a lot more to a congregation of attentive people who’s smiles and nods said: “Preach it, sister.” Then, when I was done, the church choir sang. It is led by Sverre, a sweet, old man who is living to serve the community of refugees living in his town. He bought himself a bus that has signs that say: “Burmese Bus.” He plays his accordion while the choir sings hymns in Norwegian. It is surreal to sit in the congregation listening to a choir of Karen, Chin and Burmans singing in Norwegian. You should try it some time.
I left the church today feeling connected to Burma and hopeful for it’s people. I left the church thinking that it is far from hopeless. I left thinking that of all the gifts God has given me, one of the best is introducing me to the people of Burma.