Cambodia has been a whirlwind of moments filled with big emotions and new relationships. God-filled spaces that we were blessed to walk in, to lean in and engage. When I think of what this trip has meant and how it has impacted me, I keep coming back to these words – reach out in faith and love boldly. I have seen that in action this week, powerful, beautiful and heart-wrenching. I am so thankful that God has given these examples to me, allowing me to step away from my daily life and immerse myself fully here. It has fed my soul and inspired me to pray for a heart to love differently, more openly, pushing away personal insecurity and walls for the sake of knowing another deeply. I have seen children and adults alike in Cambodia model that this week – embracing new faces and friends, providing comfort and encouragement to each other across languages, ages, and cultures.
There are two clear examples that I pray stay in my heart forever. The love and passion of the youth of Cambodia – modeled by our children at Prek Eng 3 and our new family at Chbar Mon (New Life Fellowship). We were blessed to be able to worship and play with these beautiful children at both sites, and were in awe of their boldness. They love deeply. You are met with a warm embrace and a smile almost immediately and treated as family. Warm hugs and the words of “May God Bless You” ring in my ears. Holding hands with people I just met. Placing hands on shoulders and praying together. Singing and worshiping our God together. The beauty in these moments is amazing. Serving as a reminder of His love and our calling to love each other as He loved us. John 13: 34-35.
The second example that sticks out in my mind is that of walking along a dirt road in Chbar Mon and stopping by a woman’s house. She was the first adult Christian woman in the village and the oldest member of that New Life Church plant. We found her in a tree, picking fruit, which she offered to us. We sat down and were translated a story of faith pushing past fear. She asked for prayer for her home, the ground it was built on, and her neighbors which practiced witchcraft. I saw a group of people gather in a circle, hold hands, and pray over her and her property. I saw intention, boldness and love gather round between people who had just met. When we were finished, some tears fell and we exchanged hugs. There was praise and hope in her front yard that day, prayer to a God that always pushes out darkness. Upon leaving, we saw some of the NLF youth that we had met the day prior running down the road in their school uniforms. They had heard we were back in town and had run through the village to meet us. Their fierce pursuit of relationship brings me to my knees. I pray that I can grow to love like that – fiercely, boldly, and with purpose.
I can’t even put into words what God showed me this week. I do know that He placed me here purposely for a few lessons and clear examples of His gracious and merciful love. Among the bustling and darkness that is present in certain elements of Cambodia, I saw His light there. I saw the bold movement of people stepping out faithfully to embrace His love and share His hope. I witnessed gratitude and love that I sometimes miss seeing at home. I am hopeful for the future of christianity in Cambodia, and thankful to embrace these people as family, all of us children of the one true King.