Today I write this blog on a needed few hours of rest. We have just returned from a 3 day youth camp in the beach area of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. While we were excited for this camp and our opportunity to connect with the youth there, the trip itself seemed fraught with trouble. Sickness, exhaustion and a general sense of heaviness seemed to follow us. We prayed hard through it, both for the camp and our own health and hearts.
As always, God is faithful, and he showed up in spaces we didn’t expect. It allowed us opportunities as a team where we could care for and support each other, pray expectantly and witness God’s hand through a community of strangers.
Our partner church, New Life Fellowship, invited 50 kids from the village of Chbar Mon to attend this youth camp. The camp was an opportunity to bring kids to a fun place (the beach), play games, make friends and introduce them to Jesus. On the first day, we saw many kids were tentative and hanging back. The games helped to break the ice, laugh and make connections with others. Interspersed in the games were meals, times for worship and teaching. Our team had the opportunity to jump into those spaces, meet kids and connect.
What I saw transpire over the course of those few days was special. To watch them engage with each other, the message, prayer and small group was inspiring. Some of the questions we heard were challenging, raw and heartbreaking. Kids seeking a sense of family and meaning, questioning the reality of our God, questioning how they could be made clean and righteous in spite of their selves, their lives. We were witness to 18 kids coming to Christ over the course of the weekend. What a blessing to be a part of it!
The goal of the church was to introduce these kids to Jesus, the One who gives hope and restoration. What I was most encouraged with during our time with these kids was the way God wove a spirit of hope together, connecting them to each other, breaking down walls and cultivating a sense of belonging. As God’s children, we care called to love each other. We are called to reach out and to welcome all. The outcast, the stranger, the fatherless, the weary. When I saw the sense of love and family that was shared between these kids on that last day, I know that is of nothing but God. He welcomes us in every time. As His children, we must also love and care for each other in the way only a community in Christ can. I pray that these kids find a sense of purpose, value and hope in this new community – and through it’s very unique reflection, I pray that they begin to see just how much Jesus loves them.
1 John 3:1