Monday, August 13, 2007

Cambodia Newletter August 2007

This year marks my 6th trip to Cambodia on what will continue to be an annual journey until the Lord says ‘no’ or until He says ‘go permanently.’ Last year, some of you may recall, I traveled with a team of 7 others to visit various projects that the Ratanak Foundation supports. This year, I am excited to have a young friend from church, Shannon Fitzsimmons who will be accompanying me as the Lord has laid on her heart a desire to learn more about Cambodia. So with my ‘old familiar eyes’ and her ‘fresh new eyes’, we depart for Cambodia on August 16th to September 3rd to see how the Lord is at work in various settings.

One of the blessings of last year’s trip was the opportunity to pray with so many missionaries. It made me realize that while we are limited in speaking the local language, we are not limited in the language of our God--- and so this trip will be one in which we hope to spend much time prayer walking and using prayer ministry where ever we go. As my pastor once said, prayer is the most subversive weapon we have and as 2 Corinthians 10 reminds me: the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. One place in particular where significant strongholds exist is in the Vietnamese communities that live along the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers. Many of you may know that the Vietnamese have no legal rights or citizenship in Cambodia and as such, this vulnerable community is subject to sexual predators who prey on the poorest of the poor. We plan on prayer walking through these areas as we spend time with our fellow sister in Christ Kim Bui, who God has placed in this challenging environment to bring His hope and love to those who live oppressed by the impoverish surroundings that encourages them to sell their daughters into prostitution.

But the journey to Cambodia also leads us to places of hope as we will participate at the monthly birthday party at Place of Rescue AIDS Centre & Orphanage praising and worshipping the Lord with 106 orphans and playing with my sponsored AIDS daughter Theary. As well, we will be meeting with one of Ratanak’s partners --- Helen Sworn who oversees Chab Dai – an umbrella organization representing 20 Christian NGOs that are seeking to end child sex trafficking in Cambodia. One of the places I look forward to re-visiting is the NewSong Centre, a rehabilitation centre that currently cares for 30 young girls who were rescued from the brothels and the Transitional Living Center where 9 of the older girls live and are being equipped with skills that will enable them to be reintegrated back into society. The Lord has used the pain and suffering of these precious little girls to feed what I have come to now know as the ‘holy discontent’ within my heart. Bill Hybels describes Holy Discontent this way: if you expose yourself to all that’s broken in our world but neglect to view the brokenness from heaven’s perspective (which promises that everything is in the process of being restored), then you’ll get sucked into an impossible downward spiral of aggravation, frustration and anger. Once that frustration and anger is understood as being your ‘holy discontent’ through your spiritual connection to the God who’s working to fix everything, it’s as if an enormous wave of positive energy gets released. This energy causes you to act on the dissatisfaction that’s been brewing deep within your soul and compels you to say ‘yes’ to joining forces with God so that the darkness and depravity around you gets pushed back. Your perspective shifts from that which your eyes can see to that which God tells you is true and it is in this reality that what is enslaved can still be set free, what is broken can still be mended, what is diseased can still be restored, what is hated can still be loved, what is dirty can still be made clean and what is wrong can still be made right. It is that one cause or purpose or problem that grabs you by the throat and just won’t let you go. It is that “one thing” in your heart that God is stirring a passion for. Your ‘one thing’ brings you to a place where you feel you simply must do something. Your ‘one thing’ births a burning bush experience in your soul where you sense God Himself inviting you into an intentional and personalized partnership with Him to renovate reality. When you have a deep desire to see things change, you are compelled to show up. Your soul doesn’t give you a choice in the matter. Ultimately you have no idea what the end results of your labor will be; all you know is that it is critical that you engage.

So these annual visits to Cambodia provide an ongoing opportunity to once again engage with our Lord whose redemptive hand is at work as He repairs, restores and rebuilds broken lives through the ministries of various missionary friends who are on the frontlines. This engagement doesn’t end overseas though, as God has fueled this holy discontent not only within me but also a wonderful team of people here in Toronto by leading us to organize a conference entitled: Slaying The Giant: Ending Child Sexual Exploitation on Sat. September 29th. We hope that many of you will join us on that day as we seek to follow our Lord by increasing awareness, encouraging advocacy and action on behalf of the voiceless. For like Abraham, we are fully persuaded and convinced that God has the power to do what He has promised and that is, to see these precious little girls be a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor as His glory in each of their young lives shines brighter and become greater than the anguish within their hearts.

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