Courage Under Water
By Ash Barker, Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH)
‘S’ is originally from Klong Toey slum where we live and is part of the Ta Rua church. He now lives in northern Bangkok, but in the huge November floods his motorbike, car, tools for work and all he owns was submerged in his home. With some of our neighbours from Klong Toey we went out to this neighbourhood to help give medicines, food and water, wading in with small boats to those hard to get at places. It was a special time, not least because the men in our neighbourhood, who are so often looked down upon, were the ones helping out this time. We had to get them all special blue t-shirts so flood victims didn’t think they were a gang of looters!
‘Hey thanks! Where you guys from?’ came a shout from a second story home after receiving much needed food.
‘Klong Toey!’ Gung replied.
‘Klong Toey? Really?’
‘Sure. Keep fighting on! Don’t give up!’
Very few of these men can swim, two crocodiles had just been caught there from a local croc farm (with over 200 still loose!) and the smelly brown, often neck deep water was putrid.
Courage does not do justice to describe how these men responded.
If poverty is not just about lack of cash, but a lack of freedom to choose to live life as God intends, then there is a feeling that our men began to break the cycle of poverty in their own lives by stepping out (and under!) to help others. Many of us got quite sick from the flood water and we don’t wish floods on any-one, but in crisis there can be an opportunity to find life, freedom and confidence as we responds as Christ would.
Please keep praying for Thailand as the floods subside. In November over 500 people died with millions affected. Thailand will be slow to recover. We are grateful our neighbourhood was spared, but we are long way from normal.
1. Where have you seen poverty as a lack of freedom to live life as God intends? How is this different from a mere lack of cash?
2. One of the characteristics of a ‘culture of poverty’ (Oscar Lewis) is that men can feel socially castrated and act out, seeking to ‘prove their masculinity’. Where have you seen men in bondage, acting out? Where have you experienced God intended freedoms in mature men? What can help or hinder God’s intended freedom in masculinity?
3. How has stepping out to help others benefitted you and those around you?
4. Why is this saying true or false? ‘Pity weeps and walks away, but compassion comes to help and stay’? (Art Beals)
5. What is one thing you can do to help others help others in Jesus’ name?
Lord we pray that we will see beyond the surface and understand what lies at the heart of people’s responses. Help us to take courage, step out and help one another.