“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” ~Proverbs 31:8-9
Justice; a word that stirs passion deep within my soul. The thought or sight of injustice or mistreatment of others has driven me to do or say some crazy things from a very young age. This passion is what has lead me to Thailand as I study more and more about the growing world injustice of Human Trafficking. I’ve spent the past year learning about the injustice of Human Trafficking in the Sex Industry and Fishing Industry in Thailand. I’m left seeking God for the answer to the prevention and solution of this growing injustice. For the right tools to work smarter, not harder.
For almost 20 years now missionaries and NGO’s have been in South East Asia fighting the injustice of slavery but it keeps getting worse. I’ve asked many people their ideas about solving this issue and I get a various amount of answers from tighter government regulations, to family restoration and cultural cures, to bringing awareness to the customers of brothels and stricter penalties for pedophiles. With so many potential answers to my question I’m left seeking God for the true answer.
I believe that God is beginning to open my mind with a new way for fighting these injustices. This may not be new to some of you but it is to me. As I researched more on Justice Discipleship I realized this is something that has been put on the hearts of others as well. I am after all at a YWAM Justice DTS but the more I think about this concept the more it makes sense to me. During the 3 weeks of Faith Outreach I had so many ah-ha moments and realizations about how to fight injustice in Thailand and throughout the rest of the world. There are two things I walked away with from this experience.
SOUL RESCUE FIRST, HUMAN RIGHTS SECOND
My team and I went to Surat Thani, Thailand for 3 weeks on our Faith Outreach and connected with “Stream of Life Church.” We were able to help the church with a 3-day college ministry camp. The goal of this camp was to build up the youth as disciples and encourage them to stand firm in their faith.
One thing I heard many times from the youth and college students was about the pressure they go through daily being the only one in their families who are Christian. Surat Thani is a province of over 1.04 million people and only 0.2% of them are Christian (2,080 people give or take). Their parents give them a hard time about going to church activities. Some are being persecuted, treated as outcast at school because they left the traditional Thai way of Buddhism for some “foreign, western, God.” The students feel alone and helpless often as they live out the light in a dark and pagan nation. But yet they remain firm and seek shelter in the comfort of the church body, which is small in number but strong in unity (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
During this camp I began to see the importance of incorporating Justice with Discipleship when fighting against injustice. With the exception of this current DTS, I don’t remember any of my discipleship experiences involving learning about things that break the heart of God. I learned how to grow stronger in my relationship with God, his Character and Nature, and how to find my purpose in life, but never did I learn about what’s at the center of God’s heart.
THE GREATEST INJUSTICE
The greatest injustice in the world is people not knowing their Creator God. Not knowing the Absolute Truth. Truth is a powerful weapon and can change anything. Truth can literally set a person, community, or culture free. I’ve seen it in my own life and the lives of so many exploited and vulnerable people I have worked with over the years.
“There really can be no peace without justice. There can be no justice without truth. And there can be no truth unless someone rises up to tell you the truth.”
God is Truth. God is Peace. God is Just. If people truly turn their hearts to God they will be changed and then they can begin to impact and change the things around them. If they truly love God they will desire Truth. They will desire Peace. They will fight for Justice because their hearts match those of their Father.
STOP NEGLECTING THE WEALTHY UNBELIEVERS
“I love wealthy Thais too!” ~God
The gospel is for everyone, not just the poor. This was a conviction I got earlier this year when praying about my next steps in Thailand. I couldn't think of any organizations that reach out and share the gospel with the wealthy in Thailand. Every organization I collaborated alongside of in North Thailand involved working with the poor, marginalized, and needy in Thailand. I also hadn’t met very many wealthy Thai’s during my 10 months in Chiang Mai and have no idea where I could begin looking for them. So I asked God to show me where I could find them. After all they are part of the 99% unreached too!!!!
If you think about it, wealthy people have the financial means and influential power to help the poor, exploited, vulnerable, and needy. If their hearts are truly turned toward God, who has a heart for justice, then their hearts can be turned to righteously helping others in need.
Also, wealthy people are big influencers on society and government. If their hearts are truly turned toward God, who has a heart for Justice, they can begin to influence the government and society. Not only that those empowered with the gospel have the best weapon of all to fight injustice.
I have come to realize that the south of Thailand is one of the wealthiest places in Thailand I have seen so far. They are also some of the hardest working people I have seen in Thailand.
The culture of South Thailand is so different from anywhere else I’ve been in Thailand. They are a people with a hard outer shell of pride in their abilities and accomplishments. Since they are so hard working and good about taking care of themselves and family, why would they need to rely on God? It’s hard to convert South Thailand people because of this pride. But once they realize their need for a Savior. Once they realize their need for God and choose to follow Him, they will be some of the strongest, most loyal people you will ever meet for the gospel, as I witnessed in my young college friends this past 3 weeks.
For this reason I believe it is important to reach out and work with the children and youth in South Thailand. They are still dependent on their parents and therefore have an easier understanding and transition of becoming dependent on God. By instilling in them a heart that pursues justice we instill them with a desire to fight against the injustices of their own nation they will hopefully begin to influence the future of Thailand and generations to come after them.
I have no idea where God will lead me when this DTS is finished. This realization of equipping wealthy people with the gospel message as well as discipleship that includes a strong focus on justice and mercy is something I am going to be praying about a lot over the next several months as I continue my training. It’s a technique that can be used in any country around the world. I'm not sure if this is the answer, but it's worth a shot!
Discipleship needs to be about giving those you disciple hearts that break for the things that break the Father’s heart; things like Justice and Mercy. Justice was a quality that was displayed in Jesus life and ministry on earth. It is something He also taught His disciples. If it is something Jesus did then it's part of the Gospel and we should do it as well. Also, Jesus didn’t just visit the poor and sick while on earth. He also made time for the wealthy, and those in political power. We have to see justice as part of discipleship in order for the discipleship to be fully effective.