Over the past few months we have enjoyed Br Adrian with us as he did his pastoral experience in Thailand as part of his training to become a Marist Priest. Here is some of his story and journey.
Before I came to Thailand I knew that there were people who eked out an existence in the most trying of conditions. I knew that HIV/AIDS was a leading cause of death in Thailand that tore families and communities apart. I knew that the Burmese migrants faced discrimination and lack of opportunity that enslaved them into a life of poverty. But it is only coming here that I turned that knowledge into a lived experience; one could say that it is Incarnational.
One of the great mysteries of the Christian faith is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God the Son became a man and dwelt amongst us. God knows our sufferings intimately because he himself became a man in Jesus Christ and bore all the sufferings of the world on the Cross. Just as Jesus Christ enfleshed the Good News he now calls us to do the same.
One of the most heartbreaking things I witnessed here was a young boy, perhaps 13 or 14, covered head to toe in charcoal dust. He should be enjoying his childhood; rather, he is working hard as a man. In such a desperate situation one can ask where is the Good News for him? However, I am reminded of what St. Francis of Assisi said: “preach the Gospel at all times; use words when necessary”. The Good News is being preached here by educating those that otherwise would not, giving comfort to the dying, and hope to a situation that all too easily could be categorized as hopeless. I have been greatly rewarded personally by witnessing the hope that ACU online students have that have seized the opportunity of education to better their lives.
I am sure I have been more impacted by being in Ranong than the other way around. However, I hope that my presence has preached the Good News to those that most desperately need it.
Thanks for the joy and the smiles and the links to our wider Marist family supporting us here in Thailand Adrian. All the best for your studies and the journey ahead.