Risky Compassion is a series of stories, insights and reflections from Dr Ash Barker’s twelve years immersed in Bangkok’s largest slum with his family. From this extreme context, he explores the story of the Good Samaritan and teases out life’s risky questions and implications for each of us. Ash brilliantly identifies those qualities that can enable you to go deeper in life – no matter where you live.
As you read Ash’s latest book you will:
- Be compelled to ask yourself those risky questions about what really matters in life.
- Step out of your own comfort zone: Begin to travel further on your own risky journey.
- See how suffering can help you take the risks of gaining insight.
- Learn how to join with God’s risky compassion.
- Begin crossing over to connect: Finding solidarity with those on the margins in ways that changes life perspectives and values.
- Find strategies that can work for you to help others and find your own vocation at the same time.
Ash wrote, “Life in Klong Toey slum confronted me. I couldn’t avoid the big, risky questions that this neighborhood raised for me about life, death and what matters most. As my time in Bangkok began to draw to a close, I felt an invitation to search for deeper answers to make sense of my years here and this book is part of the result. Exploring the story of the ‘Compassionate Samaritan’ helped me find meaning in the midst of suffering. I pray and hope this story, and these musings, can have a similar impact on you.”
Richard Rohr contributed the foreword for Risky Compassion and wrote, “I hope anew when I meet people like Ash and Anji Barker and the many like-hearted folks who work with them, and whom I meet all over the world. They are surely out there, and usually not making many headlines because they are too busy doing instead of talking. Christ seems to be just as invisible and unnoticed now as he was when he first came. Just doing it is less book-worthy than thinking about it, for some sad reason. But this book will help you to both think with the universal mind of Christ–and to do what you must do with the endless empathy of God. ‘What we received as a gift, we must give as a gift’ (Matthew 10:8).”
You can buy Risky Compassion from Amazon.
All the latest news and views from Dr Ash Barker
Here is a summary of activities Anji helps lead based with Oasis Hub Foundry and Bolton (FAB).
Newbigin House partners with and helps host with many of these community building activities. A lot has started to happen, but there is so much more that is possible.
We are so very grateful for all your love and support of us. As you may know last month we returned from a month annual leave back in Bangkok and it was quite an emotional time for us. Its been two years since Anji and Aiden left Bangkok and a little longer for Ash and longer again for Amy. It was amazing to be altogether again and feel how loved we all are, but it was also overwhelming. My birthday, for example, was only a few days after we’d arrived, was only going to be a few of my old football coaches, but ended up with over 50 people sharing food, banners and gifts! Everywhere we went in Klong Toey it seemed that people wanted to express how much they valued us and they remembered even the smallest things we shared over 12 years. This carried on for four weeks! We had some breaks to the beach and river too, but even these neighbours wanted to join us and not waste a second together.
There are still some very real challenges in Klong Toey, not least a new threat of demolition, but we are grateful for all the wonderful local leaders who have been raised up to meet them. We feel we did all we could with what we had over 12 years (and over 20 with UNOH) and that local leaders are going further now than we could ourselves. A real encouragement was that some of the key local organisations we invested in with their community leaders like Cooking with Poo, Ta Rau church and Klong Toey Community Centre are still thriving, even though UNOH workers are not formally involved in leadership with them now. The importance of investing in community leaders was not lost on us. Nothing invested in faith, hope and love with community leaders is ever wasted and this what we want to do more of moving forward now.
It was wonderful to return home to Winson Green too. Some hopes are taking longer than we expected, but we are well under way with setting up our dreams and feeling the love here too. Our bed, for example, was covered in cling film when we got home to a house full of people ready for a BBQ as soon as we walked through the door! Over the first month back over the summer holidays we have engaged with hundreds of neighbours in holiday programs, outings, meals and mentoring. Not least has been our work in 3 prisons and in mentoring and housing some on release.
To help give space to see our dreams mature here, Ash will finish his 3 day staff role with Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy. Ash will now volunteer in Winson Green prison as part of the prison chaplaincy team and we will rely further on faith support, living in Newbigin House and setting up two entities for our future hopes. Newbigin School for Urban Leadership will have an international perspective for developing diverse urban leaders who can help shape our new urban world and Newbigin House Community Trust that will enable us to help see a seedbed for urban change emerge in Winson Green. Latest updates for both can be found here: NewbiginHouse.uk and we would love your continued prayers and support more than ever.
Ash and Anji
PS Here are some key events coming up for us over the next month or so with regular events in brackets. Please pray!
16/9 Ash picks up 2 prisoners on release at HMP Hewell Prison and helps them get to Probation and new housing in our neighbourhood (Ash regularly visits, picks up and mentors men coming out of prison)
16-17/9 Yellow Ribbon Community Prison Chaplaincy and Mentoring Training, Newbigin House. (we regularly host these 2 day trainings)
20/9 Neighbourhood Community Dinner, Newbigin House (every Tuesday night)
21/9 Anji runs a Drop-in art and help with forms with Centre Link and Oasis Hub, Newbigin House (every Wednesday morning)
21/9 Ash visits prisoners in HMP Birmingham, Winson Green men’s prison (every Wednesday)
23/9 Anji runs Art group in Drake Hall women’s prison with Yellow Ribbon, Oasis and Gas Street Church (every Friday afternoon)
27/9 Ash starts teaching an MA in Urban Mission course in Manchester with Nazarene Theological College (Manchester University) (each Tuesday afternoon till the end of the year)
2/9 Chapel service in HMP Birmingham, Winson Green (We help first Sunday of the month)
6/10 12:30-3:30pm, West Midlands Urban Political and Public Theology Group, Newbigin House (we host one a quarter)
6/10 Start the ‘Newbigin Associates’ local community leadership development (12 month Award course for those living in Winson Green/Handsworth, with Thursday Night Circle 4:30-6pm key times, with some seminars and retreats)
8/10 Missio Dei Discernment Retreat day, Newbigin House (we host one of these a quarter and offer in other places too)
9/10 Help run our first worship service at Bishop Latimer United Church, Winson Green (we will now run second Sunday of each month)
13/10 Start ‘Urban Mission Orientation Course’ as part of ‘Gas Street Groups’ (for the next 10 Thursday evenings 7:30-9pm), Newbigin House.
15-20/10 Help run a Summit and advocacy into the UN Habitat III Conference as part of ISUM/WEA/Lausanne/CCDA/Micah’s ‘Urban Shalom Project’. Ash is co-facilitating the Summit and ‘base-camp’ helping Christian engage with this UN gathering deciding the urban agenda for the next 20 years in Quito, Ecuador.
23/10 Ash and Anji being interviewed at Gas Street Church, Birmingham.
2/11 Ash speaks for Bristol Baptist College and city wide event, St Marks Baptist, Bristol
8/11, Ash speaks at CMS Future-Present Conference, Oxford
23-24/11 Ash speaks at New Wine Urban Conference, Lemington Spa.
26/11 Ash speaks at Nazarene Ministers Gathering, Manchester
PPS. Here are some pics from our time in Bangkok.