Currently I am travelling with the leaders of Radical Grace around many of our Southern supporters. Ann and Daeng Dechaboon are not only leading HIV/AIDS ministries in Thailand, they are helping shape the way SIM is working globally within communities with the least, the last, and the lost. As we travel we are sharing stories of grace; here is one of these.
The lives and experiences of three young Thai girls from the same community with three completely different upbringings collide in our new Chiang Mai safe house called Shalom House. One girl comes from a very ‘churched’ background knowing what it is to be holy and sadly often takes the moral high ground. She had understood that to keep church holy we need to protect it with a closed door.
The second girl comes from a broken home and community where relationships are complex and fractured. They are very much against the church because they have been told that they are not acceptable, the church has a shut door. This girl presents a hard outer shell to protect her from the pain of life. The third girl from this community was born with HIV and both her parents died soon after she was born. At the age of 14 her health was deteriorating fast and she was close to death.
Three girls, three lives so close in proximity, yet barriers were preventing them from connecting. This is where Radical Grace comes in, working with the church in joining with the community using a model forged by Jesus: centered on healing and passionately inclusive. Through caring and embracing this desperately unwell girl, doors began to open.
There was a particularly poignant moment when the team gave her a hug. As she clung to them she revealed that this was the first time in her life that she had ever felt love, the first time! This act and the response opened eyes and then doors between the church, the community and the lives of these three girls as they collide. Now these three young girls are teaching and learning from each other. Grace is both a point in time and a continual process. With the movement of three lives opening to each other there is growth and acceptance taking place.
So how is your faith door? Is it open so that you can collide with others? Or is it closed by holiness to stop others entering? Closed by prejudice? Is it closed by the reality of rejection?
SIM is about opening doors through love, grace and truth. These are the keys to connecting to Shalom. Mission is the process of opening yourself up to encounter the difference and when you do I guarantee that you will meet Jesus in a new and profound way. Are you ready? Open doors equals open lives that are able to find peace through creating peace.
– Kenneth Fleck
New Zealand based representative and founder of Radical Grace