Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Does the ends justify the means?

So, I'm currently living in small cluster of villages in Northern Thailand, about an hour away from Chiangrai. What am I doing there? Everyday I ask that question.

How am I going to stay there? Well, my supervisor's plan for me to obtain a visa to stay Thailand is creative. We approached a school in the nearby town asking for a position for me to teach part time as a volunteer, in exchange for a work permit. In short, they've agreed and I'll be going to a Thai consulate in Laos with a letter from the school that will get me my visa.

Here's the thing. In this letter will be written one line, just one small line, maybe 5 cm long stating the "salary" that I'll be receiving. Of course volunteers don't receive a salary. I'll probably get a complimentary lunch on my teaching days, but no salary as such.

So, the school must lie to the government in order to make it seem like I'm a bonavide teacher. What a way to do missions and testify to the truth: by lying. My supervisor tells me to "go along with it." But ultimately, I'm the one holding the visa and holding the responsibility. I'm the one with the power to call a halt to this whole thing. It would no doubt be seen as sabotage, and even I am not sure of my true motivation for doing this.

Those who are committed to the mission will say, "But this is what we need to in order to spread the gospel! We have no choice, it's just the way it is!"

Which takes precedence, integrity and submission to the government or the spread of the gospel? Jesus said to "Render the Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." Apparently, the things we render need not be mutually exclusive to either one. There must be a way to satisfy both.