"There must be no limit to your goodness, as your Heavenly Father's goodness knows no bounds." Matt 5:48 NEB
Having U.S. Special Agents sweeping the Second Chance building was equal parts bewildering and amusing. The only real threat to be found was the rotting wooden staircase collapsing under the weight of the 20 people entourage accompanying the VIP, as they made their way upstairs.
Two security checks days out from her visit and a final sweep moments before her arrival built the excitement and anticipation for our team. There was no missing the fact that someone important was coming to visit us! We knew it. Our neighbours knew it. The footpaths were crowded with police providing security, and onlookers trying to get a glimpse of this ‘someone’ visiting Second Chance Bangkok.
With her husband, the US Secretary of State, in Bangkok for high-level diplomatic meetings, Susan Pompeo had another agenda. She wanted to see another side of the city, one out of sight for the rich and powerful. The plan was for her to visit SCB for half an hour. She stayed for more than double that. The delay irritated her security detail but her lingering, and intent listening to stories with tears in her eyes, had a far deeper impact. After the entourage left, the buzz was palpable. Everyone felt so lifted and inspired by this brief encounter.
If we are honest with ourselves, there's a part in all of us that loves power, and being near the powerful. Being acknowledged by people of influence, whether they be rich, famous or infamous stirs something within us. It touches the deepest part of our human longing to be noticed, to be seen and to be acknowledged. When power came knocking on our door, flinging the door wide open was easy. But we have wrestled with the contrast; is our response the same when the powerless and unseen come knocking, is our welcome offered in the same measure?
Jesus, tempted with worldly power, refused it (see Matt 4), instead opting to move towards those without power, status, influence and wealth. Compassion drove him to enter into the situation of those who were vulnerable to exploitation and oppressed by the ruling powers of the time. The Bible refers to such people as the widows, orphans, the destitute and strangers, all of who were at risk of being taken advantage of.
The compassion Jesus felt wasn’t just seeking justice and liberation for the poor, it was for all those caught up in the system of oppression. He saw the rich and powerful were deprived of dignity by colluding with a system that exploited and oppressed the poor.
We are grateful for the visit of Susan Pompeo. She engaged and responded with genuine compassion and interest that moved each of us. It was an example of power being used to lift others up. We hope & pray her visit with us inspires her to use her influence to raise up the poor and powerless in other parts of the world, and be a voice for the oppressed where systems are failing the weak and vulnerable.
In the same way, our prayer is that we remain faithful and resolute to the discipleship journey of moving towards those who are powerless, to those who lack social standing or influence for us to benefit from. We are privileged and blessed to move towards the unseen, uncelebrated of this world. In doing so we hope our attentive eyes and listening ears may touch the deepest parts of them as they are reminded that they too are not forgotten.
Thanks for enabling us, and partnering with us to continue this journey!
Chris, Jodie, Grace, Ruby and Millie