I’ve recently returned from an incredible and disturbing time in Thailand and Cambodia.
It was a time of immersion but mostly a time of relationship building. The purpose of the trip was to see Tearfund teams in action but also to discover what role I had to play in supporting development on the ground.
Something shifted when I got the opportunity to stand in the same place as the suffering, not just hear about it, but actually be exposed to and stand side by side the vulnerable. There was no way for me to escape the realities of what was actually happening.
As I spent time listening and identifying with the people I was meeting, I realised what God was doing in my heart, he was preparing a place for them in ‘my world’. Now it was the time for me to build relationship and see them as friends and not merely as concepts.
In order to understand my journey up to this point you need to realise how I found myself in London. I came over to London four years ago to work with counter trafficking agencies.
After a few months of working on various campaigns I began to see how so much of my work didn’t actually have an impact on those dealing with the trauma of trafficking or else those who were susceptible to trafficking itself.
Fast forwarding to the present day as I reflect on my trip to South East Asia, what I find myself constantly coming back to is the reality that the body of Christ needs to take a long hard look at what we are actually doing to address poverty. Mother Theresa once made a comment that today it is fashionable to talk about the poor but unfortunately it is not fashionable to talk with them.
The Pope recently made an incredible point along the same lines about the church he wants to see, he wrote:
I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security… I do not want a church concerned with being at the centre and then ends up by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.
Where do you stand? Are you merely talking about ‘it’ but not getting your hands dirty alongside the hurting?
If we do not address this, my fear is that we will be found in churches that are caught in the ‘web of obsessions and procedures’.
My challenge to those reading this is to get out and be a part of the church that is getting to grips with what it actually means to walk alongside those that are in need.
Here are a few people and movements that have inspired me and might just do the same for you: