What about incarnational ministry?
Through the early weeks of March I had the privilege of guiding the Catalyst team(1) through an experience in Thailand in partnership with our friends from Urban Neighbors of Hope. The idea behind this particular unit of study was to enter into a community which represents the majority world, gain insights into the lives of these brothers and sisters of ours and learn from those who have committed their lives to serving in this context.
Part of the beauty in the message of Hosea is YHWH’s willingness to give justice, fairness, love, kindness and faithfulness even when we don’t deserve it
As part of our experience, we were given a taste of farming life in a regional community. Over two days our team of ten spent 17 hours cutting sugarcane and harvesting yams to yield a total of 1,300 THB in wages(2). To hear that these pay conditions were an improvement to years past and meeting new friends who were in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and had on average been working the fields since the age of 10, it became apparent why many make their way to the city, risk their physical, emotional and mental health all in the hope of a better tomorrow(3).
Reading through the book of Hosea whilst immersed in this community, what stirred me afresh was the prevalent injustice in society. The simple economic principle of demand and supply is one thing(4), but the lack of opportunity that acts as a precursor for many who find themselves in similar shoes to Gomer is what gets me. Why are the only two choices available to these friends of ours to slave away in the fields day after day, year after year for little amounts or make their way to the city and risk everything?(5)
Are we messengers of hope to these regional communities and families?(6) Do we partake in activities that fuel these industries?(7) Are we, as consumers in the West, the loud protesters yet the silent killers? Do we curse, murder and rob? Are we dishonest and unfaithful? Hosea assesses these sorts of attitudes and actions and states that this is why our “land is a desert...every living creature is dying.”(8)
Part of the beauty in the message of Hosea is YHWH’s willingness to give justice, fairness, love, kindness and faithfulness even when we don’t deserve it.(9) How are we examples of this in the spaces and communities we find ourselves in and given the plight of humanity as a whole, what difference are you going to make?
Want to continue the conversation? Contact Amit on firstname.lastname@example.org
2 That’s 130 THB per person for 17 hours work. That works out to 7.65 THB per hour which, using the currency conversion figures we had at the time, worked out to AUD$0.04p/hr. In context, this was some of the most physically intense labor I had experienced, leaving most of the team dehydrated, exhausted and suffering heat-stroke to some extent.
3 A casual stroll down busy streets through Bangkok, especially through the tourist areas paints a very disturbing picture of where these young, and not-so-young, end up. Lets just say they are not washing dishes.
4 So it’s not just the service providers who should be addressed but also the service seekers.
5 A casual stroll through the street of Bangkok, especially the tourist areas, would paint an accurate picture of all that awaits. Lets just say they are not cleaning dishes.
6 I will explore issues arising in our own backyard here in Australia in the upcoming months. We don’t need passports to get to work or to be on mission!
7 Consuming non fair-trade items and watching pornography, for example?
8 Hosea 4:1-3
9 Hosea 2:19-20