By Charlie and Mary Dang
C&MA International Ministries assigned us to serve in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. As we began to minister among the Vietnamese diaspora, we felt God leading us to rent a ministry center. Its location is close to an industrial park where many migrant workers reside—thus we began reaching these people.
More than 630,000 migrant workers are in Taiwan. Wishing to provide for their families, they come from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and other countries in the region. They are easy targets for brokerage agencies that seek to deceive and lure them with promises of attractive salaries, benefits, and overtime pay.
These young people eagerly sign work contracts; however, they have no money to pay expensive brokerage fees. So they take loans from a bank or money lender, hoping that one day they will save enough to pay the debt.
Cases of Exploitation and Mistreatment
The majority of the workers’ housing situations are quite different from what was advertised. Some live with as many as 10 people crammed in one room. There is no ventilation, kitchen, or air conditioning. Add to that poor nutrition and hazardous working environments, and many become ill.
One worker we know named Kinh contracted tuberculosis. When the company and broker found out, they forced her to return to Vietnam without any compensation. We helped her find a shelter where she could get medical treatment and negotiated with the employer and broker to return advanced fees. Through our care and concern for her, she surrendered her life to Jesus.
Many do not get salaries according to their working hours. One woman named Hanh was never paid for overtime. When she approached her boss about it, he quickly found an excuse to deport her back to Vietnam. Hanh called the labor bureau, and she was sent to the shelter with which we are associated. During her stay, we regularly visited her and shared the gospel. She eventually accepted Christ as her Savior.
As we have ministered to these unfortunate people, we have discovered many cases of mistreatment, exploitation, and cruelty. At times we feel an overwhelming burden because of the helplessness of their situations: One woman who took care of an elderly man was sexually harassed by him. Three young men who were supposed to be in factories were illegally taken to work at a restaurant from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no breaks and given less than $400 a month. Others were forced to climb as many as 60 coconut trees in a single day. We could go on.
Ministering in Simple Ways
God has called us to minister to these people through simple ways. We care for them as Jesus cared for the abused, the exploited, the weak, and the poor.
These people often come to us for prayer, and God has answered those prayers by providing jobs for them. But more importantly, they experience God’s loving kindness in the midst of hardship and mistreatment. They know they have a friend in Jesus.
Originally posted on www.cmalliance.org.
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