Author: Sadiri Joy Tira
For many, migration is a wonderful journey to freedom; a ticket to "New Life" for people wanting to pursue educations and careers, to reunite with family members, to start anew in new land. I have heard so many positive migration accounts. However, for too many, migration begins in "darkness." For some, migration journeys involve distrust, deception, and devastation. Please consider the following examples that represent thousands of stories world-wide. (Characters are fictional, but are representative of common migration cases).
Pedro works in Los Angeles, California as a dishwasher for a small restaurant. His wages are $3.00/hour. Despite this, he does not complain, because he has no work permit! He represents thousands of illegal workers. The fact of the matter is if all illegal workers leave California on the same day, the entire state would surely have a labour melt-down. By the way, Pedro attends an evangelical church, but even his pastor does not know his address. He does not trust anybody, not even his relatives.
Maria is from the Philippines. A labour-recruitment agency recruited her from Cebu City to work as an English teacher in Japan. According to her, upon arrival, her employer met her at the Narita International Airport. Two days later she was told that the school had closed! She could not believe the news. Her "boss" took her passport and within 24 hours she was forced to work as an "entertainer" in a "high-class" night club. Human trafficking is alarming and appalling! Human traffickers have long tentacles reaching into the depths of the soul. Maria is full of shame, and has not even told her husband (left in the Philippines) of her situation.
Sonia paid a "recruiter" $10,000 to arrange her work abroad. She ended up in Northern Italy after weeks of journey, including hiking for miles through Eastern Europe, and sailing across the Adriatic Sea in the shadows of darkness. She was smuggled to her new workplace where she has no legal documentation or papers.
James is a "pastor" from a far eastern country. He was offered a scholarship to participate in a conference in America. Indeed, he participated at the conference, but half-way through the week-long proceedings he vanished from the dormitory. No one knew why or where he went, not even the conference hosts. Two years later he emerged serving as an assistant pastor at a local American church. What did he do for two years? He delivered pizza at night and newspapers in the morning. How did he even get his green card?
There is an island in the Persian Gulf, where rescued foreign female contract workers (from countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines) are stranded in various embassies waiting for their cases to be heard and for them to be repatriated (sent back home). These women ran away from abusive employers and then were forced into prostitution by other foreign workers who took advantage of their situation. They were delivered to their respective embassies bleeding and broken, some even pregnant from their abusers. So not only were they victims of cruel local sponsors, they were victimised again by unscrupulous expatriates!
Meet the Jockeys. Several years ago, I was in the Arabian Peninsula when my host took me to watch "Camel Racing." I noticed that the jockeys are young boys from South Asia. I wondered how they had ended up working so far away from home. In my readings of International Migration Organisation’s (IMO) publications, I discovered that most of those boys were sold for less than $100 each by their very own parents. This is dehumanizing. Furthermore, when the boys grow older, they are again sold for the second time as child soldiers in Africa.
Enough! I will not go further into this issue. At CT2010 we will actually have a glimpse of how broken our world is, and we will hear about how our fellow humans are suffering.
It is true that there are international syndicates and many self-serving masters who are criminals. How do we respond to this problem? How about the law-breaking migrants like Pedro? What do we do with the impostors and opportunists like James?
This blog post is not about migration law, morality and ethics. However, Diaspora MIssiology is inter-disciplinary and we enter the "court rooms" and legal systems to be advocates of the oppressed, and help rescue the helpless, lift up the "down casts" and restore the broken.
I propose to you readers, to offer an imprecatory prayer. Pray! Yes, offer an imprecatory prayer. Prayer that will confront the forces of darkness and the destruction of the forces of the devil (i.e. The destruction of international and regional syndicates whose hands are behind human trafficking and smuggling).
Also pray for denominational and local church leaders. That they may have wisdom in how to deal with "undocumented" members of the body. Indeed, we live in a world that is broken and hurting! Let us pray for healing and full restoration.
Immigration lawyers, political and social scientists are seeking solutions to help the unwanted migrant communities find freedom and significance in their "adopted land."
The Lausanne Diaspora Leadership Team (LDLT -- visit their website here www.gatheredscattered.com) convened the Lausanne Diaspora Consultation held in Manila, Philippines in 2009. There the LDLT was joined by political scientists, lawyers, demographers, sociologists, anthropologists, biblical theologians, etc. They did not only discuss how to evangelise the millions of people on the move, but also how to address the deep hurts, pain, shame, and bewilderment of many of the migrants.
Diaspora Missiology desires to win the broken migrants and help them find freedom and New Life. It seeks to motivate and mobilise the Whole Church to take the Whole Gospel to the Whole World, specifically to the people on the move.