The gospel is holistic and thus our mission as the church must be integral, through which we are to “seek the welfare of the city.” This workshop addresses, through a case study of the 2011 Thai flood, the church’s responsibilities to the broader society. The Thai flood of 2011 has been called the worst flood of this generation. While it is not unusual for the plains of central Thailand to flood, the magnitude and the duration of the disaster of 2011 was indeed rare. The World Bank estimated the damages, the recovery and the reconstruction costs of this flood to be around US$70 billion, which ranks it as the fourthmost expensive natural disasters in history.
On closer analysis we find that this anomaly is caused to some degrees by the various dire consequences of globalization. With the breakdown in the water management, both socio-politically and economically motivated, the flood of the 2011 became an unprecedented disaster. In this, Thailand has succumbed to the greed driven globalized transformation of free-market capitalism and the pressure of urban expansion.
In the midst of this tragedy, the great flood offers the Thai church a way to assess itself. How deep is its commitment to the Christian mission that addresses the whole human person? Specifically how deep was it when compared to the depth of the flood and the suffering that was brought about? How well did the church respond to particular situations? As God’s people, were they shaped by the vision and values of God in His Word? The answer to these questions would tell us something about the Thai church’s commitment to integral mission.
Could the 2011 flood have been prevented? Perhaps not, but the degree and duration of the disaster might have been lessened if the church had taken integral mission more seriously. The church has been indifferent to the ills of economic progress. It was unaware to the problems of ecological change and uninterested in the evils of socio-political power. The church was unprepared and her mission for the most part was washed over and swept away by floodwater. In the end, it lacks a holistic theological framework that would have driven the mission to address not only the immediate effects of the flood, but also the various aspects of globalization that magnified this disaster. If the church is to be more relevant she must have a better grasp of the gospel and express that conviction through integral mission.