Jaclyn: InterChange Thailand Update #4

Posted May 10, 2019

Today's update is from Jaclyn: 

I constantly get the realization that we are in Thailand – like actually across the globe, which blows my mind and just over a week ago we were in Edmonton. A lot has happened since we’ve come to Thailand, and a lot of things that we had heard about in preparation became so much more real. Not just a story anymore – real hurting & loving people.

There is this group of people from the hill country of Vietnam, who we had heard about before but through their stories and seeing their suffering made everything we had heard 1000 times more real. To briefly give you a background there are a few things that have brought persecution on these people. Three major ones are following:

- As a cultural group, they identify themselves as being Christian, although they live in communist Vietnam. 
- During the Vietnam war, they chose to fight alongside the Americans, which definitely was an unpopular choice among those in Vietnam. 
- Being a different ethnic group has caused many Vietnamese to view them as a “lesser” people.   

The combination of these three things, and probably others had caused these people to face incredible persecution, so many of them have fled to Thailand to escape persecution and request refugee status from the UNHCR, and many have received such status. Though that sounds really hopeful that they have received such status, and in general it is, Thailand has chosen to not be a nation that harbors/houses refugees. So this people group who are living in Thailand as their safe haven are living illegally, and the Thai government has the ability to arrest them. As a result, many of these refugees have been arrested and placed in the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). The IDC is an extremely crowded prison, where the lights are always on, and they don’t have any space to even lie down. I don’t know the extent of the horror there but it is definitely worse than I imagine.  

When we talked to these beautiful and hurting people, many of them told us their stories, the stories of fleeing to escape pain, but now still being stuck in a place of pain. These people are a quiet and non-aggressive, who wouldn’t resort to pleading for help. But during our interaction they told us their stories and truly expressed their desperation. They told us how they held Canada as a great Hope – a hope to leave this place, a place of a safe haven, a place of freedom of religion. Seeing us brought them great hope, and one of the biggest reasons for that is because no one knows about this people, no one knows about their pain. But us knowing brought hope because now 8 more people knew, 8 more people who can tell hundreds of more people.

Wokeness is good. Seeing the reality of this situation is really beneficial to people’s growth, but it is incredibly painful. This was such a painful thing to hear, and it kind of crushed my spirit, because how much can I do? Ignorance is bliss. It would be much easier to go through life remaining ignorant to the pain, but we can’t. Maybe I can’t do some great thing that will change the circumstances of these people, maybe all I can do now is share their story and pray. In sharing their story maybe solutions can be found, but now they are helpless, they don’t have overflowing hope, their only hope is in the reality of God’s love, and provision through it all, even when they suffer.