Friday, August 11, 2006

Asia Bound

Dear Family & Friends

It is that time of year when I once again head east on my 5th trip to Cambodia in what is becoming an annual pilgrimage as the Lord continues to open doors and opportunities for me to be connected with those who labour for Him in the ‘frontlines’ of that nation. I will be in Cambodia from August 17th till September 9th with a brief stopover in Singapore. What started out as a solo trip to continue fuelling the passion God has given me for the people of this nation, has expanded into a ‘team’ of 8 people from 4 different churches. We are a motley crew: an OMF missionary (Cathy), a teacher (Charlene), an administrator (Jeanette), a physiotherapist (Sang), a worship leader (Kelita), her husband and bass guitarist (Gord) and 13 year old son (Keldon) and myself the business person, all of us following God’s lead in what will be quite an adventure as we traverse 5 different cities in Cambodia over a 3 week period using planes, buses, boats, taxis, tuk-tuks (motorized rickshaws) and motodops. What ever moves we will be using it!

One of our purposes on this trip is to spend time encouraging and refreshing missionaries who are directly involved in rebuilding and repairing the broken gates and walls of the nation of Cambodia through their service in a variety of ministries including: church planting, children at risk (www.aim4asia.org ) AIDS hospices (Sunrise), orphanage work (Place of Rescue) and medical care, to name a few. No doubt God has a way of breaking through in unexpected ways despite our ‘set agendas’ and so I look forward with anticipation and excitement for the ‘treasures on His heart’ that He will reveal to each of us as we enter into all that He desires to show us.

The other aspect of this ‘vacation with a purpose trip’ is a more personal journey that the Lord has been leading me on ever since He first began to stir my heart for missions. Specifically, over 15 years ago, I remember watching a documentary on young girls who were sold into prostitution in South East Asia. That documentary led me to apply to OMF in 1993 as I wanted to somehow be involved in that ministry but the Lord in His infinite wisdom, closed all the doors at that time and so I never pursued it, as I assumed it was ‘my vision’ and ‘my agenda’. Scripture reminds me that in his heart, a person plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9). A year ago in the Spring of 2005, God determined that it was His appointed time to resurrect this vision (which I am discovering is really His vision) when I received a newsletter from The Ratanak Foundation. As I read about young children who were forced into prostitution and Ratanak’s response in helping to establish a rehabilitation centre for young girls rescued from the brothels in Cambodia, I felt compelled to contact Brian McConaghy at Ratanak to see how I could somehow be involved in bringing awareness to this issue and to the many other needs in Cambodia. In January of this year, I joined the Ratanak Foundation as its Toronto representative.

Recently, someone asked me why I would want to be involved a ministry that deals with such pain and suffering of little girls. My mind reflected back to the Seek Justice conference this past June and the tears that were shed by many who attended as the Lord gave us a glimpse of what grieves His heart. By entering into the suffering of the stories we heard of Nhu and Sung, two young Vietnamese girls who were sold into prostitution in Cambodia, God is continually calling us to walk the way of the ‘cross’ as we let ourselves be touched by the atrocities that we see and hear about in the world. I believe this is part of what it means to share in the fellowship of Christ’ sufferings (Philippians 3:11). It is these two girls and many like them that the Lord has used to speak into my heart about following His commands in Isaiah 1:17 – Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.

As such, as I head to Cambodia on this trip, we hope to prayer walk in an area notorious for child trafficking. Poipet, located in the north west region of Cambodia near the Thai border, is Cambodia’s modern-day “Wild West” although I think of it as a modern day version of Sodom and Gomorrah. Described as the country’s spiritually toughest city, it is known for its casinos, child trafficking, and brothels. In fact, a person can literally buy a child on the street for $25 and take them across the border into Thailand according to one missionary.

As well, I will be meeting with folks who are part of a coalition of Christian organizations called Chab Dai (Joining Hands – www.chabdai.org ) that are committed to ending sexual exploitation and trafficking in Cambodia through various initiatives. I also hope to have the privilege of meeting some young girls who God has rescued from some horrific conditions and who are now placed in an after care facility funded by Ratanak. It is these little ones that God continues to burden my heart with and whom He is asking us to give a voice to and to offer His hope to, in order that they may one day meet the One who knows them by name, the One who has fearfully and wonderfully made them (Psalm 139:13-16), the One who loves them, the One who longs to redeem them, heal them and restore them as His precious children.

Will you join with me in prayer for the following:

• Pray for my encounters with these ‘little ones’ and for the meetings with folks at Chab Dai and the other missionaries that the Lord will engrave upon my heart the things that are on His heart so that as I return, I will be able to share His vision with many others that will bring awareness to these issues.
• Pray for a spirit of unity to prevail upon this ‘team’ that we would have one mind, one purpose and one heart in all we do and say.
• Pray for God’s protection on all our travels and our health as well as our families at home. We will be travelling into malaria areas and some areas notorious for land mines.
• Pray that we would be God’s hands, His ears, His voice, His feet and His servants as we interact with those whom He brings into our paths.
• Praise God for two special retirees at Rexdale Alliance: Hazel Andrews and Marg Beaver who have given a ‘labor of love’ by knitting over 80 teddy bears and dolls that we plan to donate to the young children we meet.


Finally, for those of you living in Canada who would like to learn more about the issue of Child Sex exploitation and AIDS in Cambodia, between August 14th to 17th be sure you watch "The National" on CBC TV. The program will be about child sexual abuse and AIDS in Cambodia. Place of Rescue, an orphanage run supported by The Ratanak Foundation and run by Marie Ens (a former CM&A missionary) will be featured as an answer to the problem. Additionally, The CBC will also be having another, possibly two specials, focused on the work of Ratanak and Cambodia in September. If you would like to receive notification of these additional news broadcast please email: info@ratanak.org

Thank you for taking the time to read this rather long newsletter. I am grateful for each of you and your tremendous support in prayer and words of encouragement. If you would like to follow our journey in Cambodia, I hope to provide periodic updates at the Ratanak Website and/or personal reflections on my blog: Child of God

For His Glory
Lisa

2 comments:

Nick Hill said...

Lisa,

I just prayed for you and I will be praying for you while you are there. May God richly bless you,

Nick Hill

lisa said...

thanks Nick. Appreciate all the prayers I can get!:-)