The Rohingya: See Them, Hear Them

Rohingya mothers with their babies

I first heard the name of their people group when we were preparing to serve with them in Malaysia.

Rohingya—known as one of the most persecuted people group in the world.

Originally from Bangladesh, this Muslim people group migrated to Myanmar to escape persecution and found itself in the backlash of a Buddhist militia government. It’s estimated there are between 1 and 2 million Rohingya worldwide, yet this people group has no homeland of its own.

The Rohingya are the people no one wants. A people who are not seen or heard. Many have fled persecution in one area only to experience it in another. Most have no paperwork declaring their citizenship to any country. They are aliens, foreigners, and illegals in whatever country they enter.

They have had their property destroyed, their homes ransacked, their people tortured, and their self-esteem ruined. They usually cannot find work other than in secret because if a country’s government finds out they are there, it will usually deport or imprison them.

Last fall, our family went on a trip to Malaysia and ended up working with a Christian school that ministers to the Rohingya coming out of Myanmar. Talk about a cultural hodgepodge. There we were: Christians in a Muslim country working with other Christians who were ministering to Muslims who came from a Buddhist country. Most of the children in the school were Muslim; however, their parents would let them attend the Christian school because it was the only school that would accept the Rohingya and give them an education.

I don’t think I will ever forget their faces as my 2-year-old sat next to the preschoolers. They played together, sang together, and laughed together. They made crafts with one another and loved one another. Their similarities shined much more than their differences. I prayed my little girl would learn to love people this way: without pretense; seeing the person; and loving the human, not the citizenship, the economic status, or the religious background.

When we see people and listen to them, we realize they are more like us than we thought. The story of the Rohingya reminds me of the story of Hagar in the Book of Genesis. For the woman who was used, abused, and left to die without anyone to truly love her, the Lord came to her and rescued her. He saw her, He heard her, and He gave her value because He deemed her worthy of love.

May we be a people who show the love of Christ to others because Christ first loved us. Even in our brokenness, our sinfulness, our unworthiness, Christ came and saw us, heard us, and loved us.

Courtney Simpson is “momma” to 2 girls under 3. She’s a pastor’s wife and an advocate for all believers to be on mission.

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