Today I went to visit my other neighbours. About 500m down the road from my house is a Shan slum. It had a rickety wooden fence around it and the houses are made out of corrugated iron. The children are riding their bikes and playing on the dusty earth. I’ve assumed it’s Shan before even though I’ve never been into it, because most of these kind of slums are filled with Shan people who have escaped from the oppressive military regime in Burma and work for around $3–$6 a day as construction workers in Thailand. As a result of their work, they often move around from construction site to site, and so they just bring their families and build these slums near their work. (Visiting my neighbour)
Shan-Tai prayer month 2011, day 26
Needing to escape the hardships of Burma, tens of thousands of Shan have migrated into Thailand hoping to find safety and a better life. It is hard to know if they really do get a better life. Being paid a pittance, living in slums, working long hours, often 7 days a week, they end up being little better than slaves.
You could say that at least they are not being persecuted by the Burma Army, but the Thai police can be quite ruthless to those who are unable to pay bribes. Without work permits Shan people still live with constant anxiety that they may be caught by police and deported back to Burma – into the hands of the Burma Army.
Hopelessness can overtake people in such circumstances, and often does. Without hope there can be a rapid descent into alcohol, drugs, gambling, crime, prostitution. How can the Shan have hope? In dark times, in weakness and poverty, what is there to hope for?
We know that Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, He gives light and eternal life of more value than any material goods. He gives all this and more to those who believe in Him. All they need to do is hear, understand and believe.
For this hope to come to the Shan, someone must go and tell them.
Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8 NIV)
Cardboard was piled in the gaps between the roof and wall, probably to block the wind. I’m sure everyone could hear everything though. They slept on the floor, but did have electricity. It would be cold at nights, since they only had one layer of iron around them. (Visiting my neighbour)
- Workers who will go where the Shan live to speak truth in languages they understand.
- God to prepare hearts and make a way for all Shan to hear about Him and the love He has for all people.
- The Shan who live in Thailand in subsistence housing who face prejudice, rejection and exploitation daily.
- The Gospel to spread rapidly from Shan to Shan and transform lives as it takes root in hearts.
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Image of Shan slum in Chiang Mai: Jazng