Churches in Asia need to embrace and accompany strangers and marginalized, says Australian theologian

Posted on October 14th, 2017

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Yangon: Churches in Asia need to accompany migrants, trafficked, stateless and indigenous peoples and communities and give them hope in situations of despair, says Dr. Gemma Tulud Cruz, a theologian and academician from the Australian Catholic University.

Speaking on “Shining a light on hope: embracing and accompanying migrants” during a plenary session on the third day of the Asia Mission Conference organized by Christian Conference of Asia in Yangon, Myanmar, Dr. Cruz said that church has moral and pastoral obligation and responsibility to embrace and accompany migrants as a missionary imperative in today’s world.

The Church needs to address migrants’ loneliness, isolation and the various forms of injustices that plague those who are forced leave their homes, families, communities and countries they come from. The search for greater opportunities and a better life binds all people on the move. This quest for well-being is the enduring theme of wave after wave, generation after generation, of migrants worldwide,” said Crux.

Cruz, who was a Filipino migrant herself to the Netherlands, USA and Australia at different times in her life said, “My father was a migrant worker, migration is a part of my life.”

According to the UN report – 2013, Asians represented the largest Diaspora group residing outside their major area of birth, accounting for about 19 million migrants living in Europe, some 16 million in Northern America and about 3 million in Oceania.

Compared to other regions of destination, Asia saw the largest increase of international migrants since 2000, adding some 20 million migrants in 13 years, and this growth was mainly fueled by the demand for foreign labour in the oil-producing countries of Western Asia and in South-Eastern Asian countries with rapidly growing economics such as Malaysia and Thailand.

The influx of migrant workers leaving various Asian countries increase yearly and more than 250,000 workers from Sri Lanka and 100,000 from Thailand have also been leaving their country every year since 2008.

In the backdrop of the age of migration, 200 million migrant workers are in need of church’s support and solidarity, Cruz said.

Churches have to network with governments, people of good will and civil society groups to work for the migrants workers across Asia and the globe at large, she said.

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