July 9, 2017

Small Stream of Mae La Camp

Thursday at the annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance in Bangkok, Thailand, brought one of the most powerful worship services I've experienced. Ethnic Karen people who fled decades ago from neighboring Myanmar and still live in refugee camps in Thailand led the worship. They've formed an association of churches in the camps: Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Churches. One of the pastors, Saw Waldo, brought a message during the service and in later breakouts that brilliantly demonstrated a "theology of exile."



A choir from the association sang songs of lament, a type of biblical message too often missing in U.S. churches. Stuck on the border without a homeland, the refugees have few legal rights or protections. From that context, they teach us about faith. One song in particular captured this lamenting theology of exile. Please listen to it (lyrics are below the video).


Small Stream of Mae La Camp

By the small stream of Mae La Camp
We sat down and cried.
By the small stream of Mae La Camp
We sat down and cried.

In the heat of many days through sleepless
nights in the foreign land
We are hungry, thirsty for freedom
When freedom is so far away.

How shall we sing a song of freedom?
When freedom is shackled and chained.
How shall we sing a song of joy?
When freedom is shackled and chained.

Oh my God, Oh my God
Why have you abandoned us?
Oh my God, Oh my God
Why have you forsaken us?

By the small stream of Mae La Camp
We sat down and cried.
By the small stream of Mae La Camp
We sat down and cried.

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