Wednesday, 20 December 2017
A young girl, startled, stigmatised.
As Christmas approaches, the images of Mary, the one chosen to bear Jesus, remind us afresh of her youth and her humility.
Mary, blessed by a God she knows and worships. Willing, but needing to carry along with the burden of pregnancy the shame, the assumptions of others, and questions about the future.
Affirmed by God’s revelation to Joseph and to Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary trusts. She is encouraged and her burden is shared. She focuses on the God she loves, and responds with praise.
The life of Mary contrasts starkly with the lives of the majority of teenage girls living in this day and age.
In Thailand, a Buddhist nation, Christmas Day is a normal school day, a normal work day. Few people know the story of the life and death of Jesus. Fewer people still, less than 0.5 %, bow to worship Jesus, Saviour of the world. The Christmas story is merged with the celebration of a New Year. Buddhists have no God to honour. Young people in Thai society may be quite secular, yet many of them will bow before statues of Buddha, worshipping with incense, mantras and food offerings.
The Radical Grace team is getting to know KaJii*, a beautiful, 15-year-old Thai girl. Her mother passed away when KaJii was young. Her father cares for her deeply but his life is difficult, he has been affiliated with gangs and drugs. He is living with HIV. KaJii and her younger brother were raised by a caring Aunt and Uncle in a small rural community. When Uncle died, life was more difficult.
Recently, rumours began to circulate within the community about KaJii and life choices she was making. Her father has known Ann and Daeng, the leaders of Project Radical Grace, for many years. Concerned for his daughter, he initiated contact with the Radical Grace team to introduce them to KaJii. We ate together and talked a little. KaJii participated quietly - it takes time to build trust. We opened the Bible and read from Psalm 68:19, ‘Blessed be the Lord who carries our heavy loads every day, the True God who is our salvation’. KaJii wept. We told her about Jesus, the burden-bearer, and prayed together.
Recently we met together again at Project Radical Grace’s community ‘safe space’, Shalom House. Here we heard more of KaJii’s story - young, surprised by pregnancy, abandoned by her Aunt, regarded by many as an object of shame, burdened.
But KaJii is not alone. Her future may be difficult but her father is standing alongside her and her boyfriend’s family has accepted her. As the Radical Grace team also journeys with KaJii, she can glimpse the grace and love of the God who calls her to come to Him.
Please pray for KaJii. Pray also for her father who desires to change and take responsibility for his family, including his daughter and the grandchild who will be born.
*Name changed, representative image used
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