Monday, June 11, 2012

Hatred within our Christian Communities

I have recently stumbled upon Relevant magazine's social justice website "Reject Apathy.” As a student growing up in what I am calling my generation's social justice awakening period, Relevant was always a really great (and challenging) resource of progressive Christian culture. It also helped that their subscriptions only cost $14 a year which made it oh, so affordable for a 20-something year old. So when I stumbled upon their social justice publication's website, I was immediately hooked. Now, you may be wondering as a Relevant magazine fan, how could I have waited this long before learning of such a wonderful piece of the Relevant family? Well, all I can do is blame grad school and not being able to read anything that I wanted to read for the past two-and-a-half-years.

One of the articles I just found (and one that was ‘most shared’) is called "12 Hours with a Sex Tourist."  The article, written by Gaz Kishe, chronicles a conversation between two very different people on their way to Bangkok, Thailand. The first is a Christian, and the second, a sex tourist on his way to celebrate an anniversary of his divorce by visiting many of the Thailand's sex bars. This was his fourth trip to the area and the conversation between the two of them is just well, heartbreaking. Unbeknownst to the sex tourist, this Christian wasn't going to part-take in the bar scene. Rather, he was just there for a layover. The tourist's assumption that almost everyone on the flight was going to Thailand for the same reason make me cringe as I, myself, have been one of those passengers flocking to Thailand. However, my end goal was a bit different. The goal for my team and me was to spend time with the women to build relationship, be ambassadors of Christ's love and show them that they have other options for income, rather than selling their bodies to disgusting, perverted men.

We flew to the small island of Phuket where we spent our late evening hours on Bangla Road, the main strip or red-light district of the island. Reading this article, memories come flooding back of the heavy air filled with evil and pain…the nausea that I, and many others on my team, felt as we prayer walked… the hours of conversations as we went bar to bar talking to girls with their plastered smiles, the struggle to build relationships as we fought through the darkness (both metaphorical and actual)…the stench of sweat and beer mixed with heavy incense… and the pain in our hearts as we walked passed room after room knowing what sad horrors were taking place behind each door. I am proud of our team. Together, we grew in our understanding of the Lord. Together, our dependence upon Him was strengthened as we did our afternoon prayer walks in preparation for the evening "working" hours. Together, our hearts were broken for His children, both the women and their many customers. Together, I believe we did bring just a glimmer of light into such a sinister place.


Now, you may be thinking I am writing to discuss the horrors of the sex industry and how disgusting and utterly sad it is that people plan sex tourism trips, and while that is all true, I am not. I am merely drawing a contradiction by paralleling the degradation of humanity found in what most of the world identifies as extreme horror (sex tourism) to the shameful way we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ on a day to day basis. 


Gaz Kishe wrote, "For those of us who live in places where our fellow countrymen are booking sex holidays, we must re-sensitize ourselves to the humanity of these wonderful, beautiful and precious people. We must spread the word that these women and girls are someone's daughter, sister or mother. Let’s work to abolish myths that tell us they are less than worthy of our high regard and respect. Let's tell th
eir stories. Let's honor their lives. Let's sing and shout about their humanity."

I want to take Gaz's challenging call a bit further. I say "For those of us who live in places where our fellow countrymen Christians are booking sex holidays hurting each other, we must re-sensitize ourselves to the humanity of these God's wonderful, beautiful and precious people. We must spread the word that these men and women and girls are God's sons and daughters sister or mother. Let’s work to abolish myths that tell us they are less than worthy of our high regard and respect. Let's tell their stories. Let's honor their lives. Let's sing and shout about their humanity."
So in following Relevant's call to reject apathy, let us reject being apathetic to the hatred in our Christian community. Let us rather, do as we were commanded in Luke 10:27 - "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." For the only way to fight against the true hatred is to realize that pain and hurt fills each and every inch of this world unless we actively fight using the best tool we have been given, God’s unconditional love.

1 comment:

  1. I remember reading that article awhile ago... heartbreaking and eye opening. I'm glad you you've been able put it into action in a context somewhat closer to home. And glad you found Reject Apathy! :)

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