It could be the world’s longest current civil war, a conflict all but ignored by the rest of the world during its 64 long years. On one side of the fighting is the Burmese army, dutifully obeying the whims of paranoid military leaders; on the other, the Karen people, the largest ethnic minority in Myanmar (Burma), who long for autonomy. Many have fled the genocide and now live in refugee camps along the Thai border, hoping to ultimately start a new life in one of a dozen welcoming nations. In spite of many positive political reformations in Burma’s recent years, the conflict still continues, and innocent lives are caught in the crossfire.
So it was for 7-year-old Naw Paw Htoo, who lived with her parents in their small Karen village. One night, Burmese soldiers attacked and torched every home. In the ensuing chaos, villagers panicked, scattering in every direction. Naw ran as fast as her little legs could carry her, ending up in a nearby field where she hid alone until daybreak. From her hiding place, she watched as soldiers came back that morning to capture survivors who had fled their village and returned. Naw was also discovered, but thankfully by the owner of the field, who was also hiding. Together they waited.
After the soldiers departed with their captives, Naw and the field owner returned to the smoking remains of their village. Dead bodies lay scattered where they had been mowed down by Burmese bullets. But it was in another village where Naw learned that her parents had been captured and forced to carry military supplies—until they outlived their usefulness and were shot.
Naw’s caretaker brought her to a pastor who knew the director of Heaven’s Haven, an orphanage located far from the conflict. The orphanage director, Peter Hu Thang, was well aware of the consequences he might face if caught harboring a Karen child, but he said, “As for me I don’t care [about] all the risk… I am ready to pay the price… because I really want to show the love of God in the lives of this people.” Peter welcomed little Naw.
Naw now has a new family and home, where she has a safe place to sleep, good meals, and is learning all about Jesus. She has given her heart to the Lord, and she wants to become a Sunday school teacher when she grows up. Naw also attends school every weekday. Now 12 years old, she loves to sing, and her favorite school subject is art.
Naw is one of three Karen children among the fifteen who live at Heaven’s Haven orphanage. Although they each lost their parents in similar, tragic ways, they are experiencing God’s love because people like you care. Thanks so much.