You may have seen Malaysia in the headlines lately.  Boats. Boats full of men and women and children being turned away from everyone.  It's happening right on our doorstep.  Our very own beloved island of Penang turned away a boat full of 500 people last Wednesday, probably just miles from our home.  And just before that, 1,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshi people showed up on the shores of Langkawi, the island just to the North of us.  We vacation there.  This is not just a headline for us anymore.  

These are some of my former Rohingya students at LifeBridge.  I miss them!

I don't think I have written about it much on this blog, but I live in a place with very in-your-face kinds of injustice.  In Penang alone we have thousands of Rohingyas (the most persecuted people in the world)  seeking refuge here in hiding (and working), children who can't go to school, and a government who desperately wants to get rid of them.  That's just the tip of the iceberg that I don't have time to elaborate on today.  Sometimes they've been born here, as is the case of many of my former students.  Often they've come here on foot from Thailand.  They also come by boat, just like the thousands of others who preceded those people out in the sea right now.   The Rohingyas are just one slice of minority peoples here who live in constant oppression here. 

And despite the statistics, it's all-too-easy for me to ignore.  They serve me in restaurants.   I jog past them on the street.  I taught for two years at a school for their children (see link for a story about my last day teaching there).  They're a part of life here and I forget about it sometimes.  I go on with my happy life and miss their suffering because I stopped looking for it.  I hate to admit it, but its true. James, the brother of Jesus, just shatters me and my complacent heart. 

 "What good is it...if a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat your fill', and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?" -James 2:15-16

Compassion for the helpless and needy people among us (ok...it's all of us) compelled God to send his son into the world.  Moved with compassion, Jesus healed the sick.  He fed the five thousand, taught them, loved them, and because he was moved with compassion for me, a sinner, he even went to the cross.  The love of Christ must compel me too.  

I'm doing a very timely bible study (SheReadsTruth) on justice right now because it's been on my heart a lot lately. Its not giving me the neat and tidy answers like I had hoped, but I do believe that if I seek the author of justice he will define what it looks like in my own life. And I know that part of justice is reconciliation of all of life's broken relationships- that we had with God, that man had with each other, with work, the earth, and with ourselves.  Maybe justice starts within my own four walls and in my heart. Am I opressing others by holding them to a higher standard than I myself live? Do I judge, condemn, and shut them out or do I build up, support, and connect? Do I give my family grace and love them through their rough moments the way God loves me through my own weaknesses? And maybe justice in the neighborhood could be as easy as making a new friend or picking up a piece of trash. God's Kingdom is built one tiny piece at a time.  It mat not be anything to write home about, but its a good place to start. "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family." - Mother Theresa.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
-Saint Francis

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