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Thought for the weekend: Living the Word of God

By Allen Sleith

The other day I was privileged to hear a talk given by Greer and Maureen Lowe. They showed a short DVD of their several trips to Bangkok in Thailand where they visited the work done by UNOH (Urban Neighbours of Hope). This is a missional order affiliated with Churches of Christ in Australia and Thailand and the Baptist Union in New Zealand.

Since 1993 UNOH workers have chosen to relocate into some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in several large cities.

Their strapline is the well-known Biblical imperative - love God, love neighbour - but it's the way in which they practice that age-old command that so impresses. The DVD showed an Australian couple who'd consciously answered the call to live alongside the slum dwellers of Bangkok as followers of Jesus, like him, seeking to be a faithful loving presence in the margins where life is tough.

The one concession they made was to have their three girls go to the city's international school so that their parents' call to humble Christian service didn't thwart their chance of a good education. That balance of self-divestment but parental responsibility struck me as being particularly apt.

The Lowes give numerous presentations round the province and are well worth booking. They also sell jewellery and other handcrafts made in the Bangkok slums and send the proceeds to the ongoing work there of UNOH.

Many of these products go under the label 'Second Chance Bangkok - upcycled wares' where the locals exchange used clothes and often make ingenious items out of them. Indeed, I bought a shoulder bag made from corduroy jeans with all sorts of clever pockets, dividers and sections - brilliant.

But there was humour too. The DVD showed a woman who runs a cooking school and has even teamed up with Jamie Oliver. Her native name is shortened to 'Poo' and in one clip we saw her assistants wearing aprons with the slogan "I cooked with poo and I liked it!"

The work of UNOH (pronounced 'you know') really inspired me because 'you know' when you've met the genuine Christian article - gentle but radical: unpretentious, down-to-earth love.

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