For most people around the globe, and perhaps even for us, Good Friday is just another day like any other. Yet for Christians it should be and is the most significant and important day of the year. Not just any other day, but the day when we remember the pain, the suffering, the separation, the death…that Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, went through for each and every person – for the prisoners we met in Malawi living in squalid conditions; for those living in poverty, with no clean water or very little food in the villages and townships; for those who have lost family and friends, livelihood and homes in the earthquake in Christchurch and in Japan; for the orphans and those facing the consequences of HIV and AIDS that we met at the House of Grace; for the prostitutes and for the men and women who visit Bangkok as sex tourists; for children with cancer far from home living in a Christian hostel near the hospital in Bangkok we visited two days ago…..for you and me living in the UK.
Over the last 10 weeks we have seen situations that have made us weep, we have met people who have made us smile. we have visited ministries that have given us hope and we have been welcomed wherever we have gone. As we return back to England, we recognise that we have seen God at work in the lives of individuals and of communities and through the ministries we have visited, and we are left pondering how we as individuals and as a church we can partner with Christians throughout the world to continue to share the Good News of Easter. We have seen incredible need and however much we would have liked to, we recognise that we cannot help everyone, but what would God have us do with the little we can offer?
But we have also recognised that there is also much need back here in the UK. Perhaps not the same levels of poverty, but Britain is a mission field and there are just as many people who need to know the love of God in their lives. I was reading a report today that it is now estimated that 48% of children will have experienced their parents separating before they are 16. What legacy is that leaving for us as a nation? It is perhaps worth noting that people we talked to suggested that many of the problems we witnessed iin Thailand seem to stem from the loss of any sense of responsibility for family life and faithfulness within marriage by the majority of Thai men. It is surely our responsibility as the church of Christ to be supporting marriage and family life here in the UK, sharing the love of God and being bold in standing up for what the Bible teaches.
In the last 3 weeks of our study leave, we will be taking time to reflect on what we have experienced and ponder what is our response – how can we partner with others more effectively, but more importantly how can we partner with God in what he is already doing both in different parts of the world and here in the UK.
It is good to have arrived back to a warm and sunny weekend. We thought it would still be cold which would have been a shock after the heat of Bangkok. It iss aid that Bangkok is the hottest city in the world, as due to the many high rise concrete blocks retaining the heat and humidity, the temperature rarely falls below 35, and was certainly hotter than that whilst we were there. It has meant that we can get our washing dry quickly and also mow the grass which was very long. Hannah and Tom arrive home later today for a family holiday – it will be good to see them.
Can we wish you all a thoughtful and happy Easter.
Mark & Miriam