Seeing From The Margins


It’s great that many churches in Singapore are stepping up now to serve migrant workers (MWs), e.g. this effort by CEFC.

Before MWs came to the fore due to COVID-19, where have most churches and Christians been?

Over the years, some Christians have been calling for justice and concern for MWs: Stephanie Chok (2017); RJJW (The Justice Demand 2016); Servant at the Fringes (2018).

Some Christians have been at the margins walking alongside MWs for years prior to, many of whom volunteer in MW NGOs. Karunya Community Clinic, Asia Evangelistic Fellowship, for instance, have been serving migrant workers with subsidised medical care since the late 1990s.

So while it’s good that there’s attention now on MW, the bigger question remains: how did MOST of the Church not ‘see’ MW before all this?

Not ‘see’ physically, but to truly see and know them.

Not ‘see’ only as people to be evangelised to.

Not ‘see’ as the Levite and priest saw the victim and “passed by on the other side”, but as the Good Samaritan saw and had “compassion”.

The problem is that most of the Church have been deceived into seeing from the wrong side.

Most of the Church have imbibed the dominant culture, narrative & worldview.

Most of the Church mistakenly think they are permanent citizens of this world with rights, entitlements, and power.

Some Christians exercise such power to dominate, even at the expense of those at the margins, and even if out of mistaken self-justification in good faith.

And grown very comfortable in that dominant seat. Many of us are.

The prophet Amos would have described this about us: they “lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches” (Amos 6:4).

Yet, the Bible describes Christians as “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11).

Since the Old Testament, the people of God were to always see themselves as the sojourner, and thus to treat the sojourners among them with love (Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33-34).

So the right side for God’s people to see the world is to see from the margins.

What happens when the Church begins to see from the margins?

She would notice the neighbours in the margins.

She would walk alongside those limping at the margins.

She would not be silent about those fallen at the margins.

She would not despise those calling for justice at the margins.

She would not be condescending to the marginal.

She would not see herself as Messiah to the marginal.

Will the Singapore Church begin to cross over to the margin?

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