Mesa – a new global network of emerging Christian leaders – has had its first in-person gathering in Thailand this week. Our time began with two days in a rural village where we shared life with a family there. We slept as they sleep and ate as they eat. (Although each meal was probably like their best holiday meal … home-cooked dishes, lovingly prepared with local foods from their own fields and gardens.) We also worked as they worked – some of us joining them planting rice, others harvesting chilis, others harvesting corn.
We have been in a large city for the last few days, and last night a group of us walked the streets and beaches where sex tourism is the primary industry. Our group was guided by a young Christian woman who was formerly in that industry. Her story was unforgettable.
Of course, the rural and the urban are closely related. A young woman who does back-breaking work for eight or ten hours in the fields might earn a dollar or two per day, which means maybe twelve cents an hour, or thirty dollars a month. If she comes to the city, she can make a thousand dollars a month or more. Many of us came away seeing that our typical focus on the degradation and immorality of the sex industry – real and horrible as it is – can easily distract us from the degradation and immorality of the global food industry that underpays workers and makes slum life look so attractive. It’s impossible to convey in the impact of this in a blog post. Suffice it to say that many of us have had our understandings of the world and how it operates significantly shaken and reshaped.
Those who pray – please pray for us as we discern our next steps and develop a plan for Mesa over the next four years. That discernment and planning work now underway and will continue until we finish our time together Wednesday night.
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