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Rambo and Mission to Burma

May 19, 2009

I recently watched Rambo, yes the fourth installment of the sixty-three year old Sly Stallone, who shocked us all with his recent Rocky comeback. Unlike his performance on short-lived The Contender reality boxing show, both of these last Stallone installments were actually quite good. Unlike the previous Rambo movies, Rambo is more story-driven than action-driven. In fact, we see Rambo doing very little hulking “action” apart from a few shots from his bow and a lot of machine gun fire. He doesn’t pop out ponds or trees, and his shirt doesn’t even come off (not that we would want it to)!

Oppression in Burma: The Plot of Rambo

Instead, Rambo is about the plight of Burma. The story focuses specifically on the Karen people, and their long-standing conflict with the oppressive milliatry junta. The opening scene shows a military transport truck pulling up, unloading Karen captives in the middle of the Burmese countryside. The Burmese military force the captives to run through mine-laden rice fields for sport, and shoot the ones that don’t get blown up. This is not exaggeration. In fact, when I was in Burma a few years ago I frequently saw these military trucks, full with soldiers, on their routes to fight with the indigenous peoples of Burma. It is a war-torn country.

Burma’s Need: Gun or Gospel?

As the movie unfolds, Rambo is asked to take some missionaries into Burma to offer medical aid and salvation to the Karen. Rambo is cynical and reluctant to take them, but eventually obliges them. The naivete of the missionaries is striking. Rambo tells them that the only thing that will change Burma is a gun. The missionaries believe in the gospel. Who was right? Rambo or the missionaries? Well, I’ll leave that to the comments but the missionaries are killed and captured, resulting in the need for a rescue attempt, which Rambo is pulled into.

There’s a lot of blood. Not a lot of philosophy or theology (which would be out of place). But there is the simple, powerful impact of the plight of the peoples of Burma. Oppressed, killed, tortured, children conscripted, and recently even monks were shot in Rangoon during a peaceful protest. When I was in Burma I was struck by the corruption, poverty, beauty, and deep brokenness of this largely Buddhist country. I worked with the Shan peoples, who have also been at war with the junta, who have also been oppressed as the Karen. Consider the 10s of 1000s killed by the cyclone last year. Burma needs more missionaries, more gospel, more justice, more mercy, more love, more hope. Go to Surehope to see the project we started with the Shan.

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Aung San Suu Kyi’s Trial

Now consider the audacious trial of Burma’s unsung hero–Aung San Suu Kyi–Nobel peace prize winner, advocate for democracy who has been under house arrest for years. Her health is waning. And Burma’s hope with it. Pray for Suu Kyi today, the second day of her trial. Pray for Burma. Visit and advocate for these people. Check out this article and video from BBC.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. logsatm04 permalink
    May 19, 2009 9:49 am

    Awesome read. In addition to that, their are a lot of Burmese refugees here in Austin living at the Austin Commons apartments. They are desperately in need of community, cultural training and assistance of all kind.

    Another opportunity for global ministry in a local context.

  2. May 19, 2009 11:50 am

    Question: did you watch Rambo for entertainment or for the Burma connection?

    Thank you the prayer directives. I’ve been praying for Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi lately when I heard about her trial.

    You said it so well, I’ll say it again: “Burma needs more missionaries, more gospel, more justice, more mercy, more love, more hope.”

  3. May 19, 2009 2:55 pm

    Yes, good point Logan. We’ve worked with them some, but need to pick that up again.

    Entertainment! :)

  4. May 20, 2009 12:42 am

    Jonathan, great thoughts. And I was appalled at the naivete of the missionaries in the movie. I want to believe missionaries to the more violent parts of the world would be more aware and prepared.

    By the way, don’t know if you were helping Sly cover his age, but he’s now 63 years old. haha :)

  5. May 20, 2009 7:22 am

    Having worked with missionaries in these areas, I can affirm your hopes–they are not so naive. Thanks for the age correction…I just threw that up as filler meaning to go back and with his real age!

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