The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
Yesterday morning, we had the indescribable privilege of getting to serve with the best people I know at Hard Places Community (HPC). HPC is an organization who serves and advocates for children living on the streets that are being exploited economically and sexually. The Vista teams I have been a part of have always gone to HPC, so I was really excited to go back again this year. Angie and I got to plan a lesson on the parable of the lost sheep with a skit, games, and crafts for their morning kids program. We had a blast working together leading up to the trip and implementing it too. It was really neat to see the whole team dig in and love like Jesus. We are there for such a brief time that it can feel like we really aren’t doing that much, but we are encouraging the Khmer staff by giving them a break but also by demonstrating we believe they have great worth, and we value what they’re doing on the other side of the world at Vista.
We got to sit with Panha before we were with the kids where he shared with us that Vista is one of only 5 groups that they allow to come in and work with them. What they do is highly sensitive, so it is truly an honor to have the history of trust and relationship we do with them. Panha shared HPC’s current caseload, their successes, and their struggles with complete transparency. The weight he carries is heavy, and he bears it with a grace and humility beyond his years. I can’t say enough good things about him; I could sit and listen to him talk for hours! I was deeply struck by everything he was saying and even though I have been there four times now and heard similar stories each time, I deeply felt every situation he related to us whether good or evil and wept for the people in each story.
Panha, Sineat, and the rest of the Khmer staff are shining the light of Christ into the darkest corners of this world and being able to come alongside them and help in any way I can has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life. They are in the trenches day-in-and-day-out, but the work they do is changing the lives of children who have been exploited. I am a better person because I know them.