The corona pandemic and justice issues for the vulnerable. These two issues have taken front stage globally and are the topic of most every conversation. In ancient Israel there were three groups that were most vulnerable and often subject to injustice: strangers, fatherless and widows. These three groups are clustered together in nine biblical passages, one of which is Psalm 146:9, “The Lord protects the strangers. He supports the fatherless and the widow. But He thwarts the way of the wicked.” As a missionary to Thailand, I got used to being addressed as a “farang” (foreigner) and the religion I propagate as “satsana farang” (foreign religion). After forty years working with the Thai, I still have trouble accepting those designations, but my stigma of being an alien and stranger cannot compare with some of the groups I have worked with in the past: the lepers of Central Thailand and IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples who are stateless minorities living on the borders of Thailand). America with a population of 326 million has 400,000 children in foster care, but Thailand with 70 million has around one million orphans. Near Chiang Mai where I reside there are 75 orphanages. I have an affinity with the last category, widows, because for the past nine years I have been in that group. Thailand has a large number of widows but unusually large numbers of single mothers who have major struggles within a social system with few safety nets. As in ancient Israel, these three groups continue to be the most defenseless today with the addition of the elderly with medical conditions susceptible to Covid-19 and various ethnic groups who suffer injustice due to the color of their skin. God has a special interest in the well-being, dignity and desire for justice within all these groups. The plea of Habbakuk should be our plea to God today:
How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted (1:2-4).