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Shirley Stephens recently had the opportunity to visit SE Asia. Below is her perspective on the trip.

[R] Shirley with her coffee to-go! Scalding hot coffee in a plastic bag, with a string tied on for a handle and a plastic straw!

I had the recent opportunity to travel as part of a discernment prayer team for some of our International Workers who are investing their lives in a new ministry to a Least Reached People Group. I went to pray for their ministry and for this people group, but little did I know that my heart would be broken in the process!

The Rohingya people live as refugees. They have been forced out of their homeland due to violence and persecution. In an essence, they live as non-people! People without a home or citizenship, and without any of the basic human rights we take for granted.  

They either choose to endure life within a refugee camp or they must come up with enough money to pay human traffickers to assist them in getting into another country.  Choosing to leave the refugee camp is choosing the road of no return. They leave with the understanding that it will likely be the last time they see their family. In desperation they pay steep fees to human traffickers, even though they will endure starvation, beatings, and captivity on the lengthy journey.  The traffickers’ will often demand further ransoms from their family to complete their safe passage.

If they survive their time with the human traffickers, they are dumped across the border of their new country. They arrive as illegal migrants in a land that is hostile to them. They risk lengthy detainment and harsh treatment if they are arrested for being in the country illegally. If they are able to find employment by working under the table, it is for minimal pay and often their bosses don’t follow through on paying them at all. Much of the time they merely exist, living day by day, just trying to scrape together enough food to live on. Their options for health care, dental care and education for their children are severely limited and mostly don’t exist. 

The greatest heartbreak of all, is these people have lived their lives without hearing the gospel message! How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And How can anyone preach unless they are sent? Romans 10:14

It is one thing to hear such heartbreaking stories from afar, but to sit across the table, to share a meal, to walk through their neighborhood and to visit their shack like homes that they share with other families, does something far deeper! Those, whom were once far off people are now people with names and faces, people who are no different than you and me! They long for the opportunity to earn a living and to provide for their families. They long for the basic human rights that they only can dream of now!

[R] One of the community houses where the Rohingya refugees live.

As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
Romans 10:15

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