Tuesday, August 21, 2007

TLC - Grace Abounds

It's Tuesday morning here but I can't sleep. I've been up since 5am this morning as my mind has wondered to the events of the night before. My friends Cathy, Shannon and I first went to the Newsong centre to chat with Don, one of our partners. We will be spending most of the Wed afternoon at Newsong and also will visit Svay Pak --the brothel area that was 'apparently shut down'. More on that on Wednesday.

We were taken to TLC - The Transitional Living Centre where we met our 9 young friends---teenagers who are developing vocational skills so that they can reenter the work force after many years of being sexually abused in the brothels. Their ages do not reflect their youthful appearance and petite stature. I even tower over a few of them and I ain't that tall so you can imagine how small they are. They are 17 and 18 years old and when we first arrive at their home, they greet us with such warm smiles and take our hands. It is as if we are long lost friends being reunited as they give us hugs and seem so overjoyed to see us. One would think they would be suspicious of strangers and withdrawn after all the ordeals they have gone through but God has shown me something new---the resilience of the human spirit to overcome trauma. They are so playful and emanate His love. It is as if His love has been poured down deep within their hearts. In spending time with them I am reminded afresh of the vision He gave me from Isaiah 61:1-4 for indeed He is bestowing a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness for mourning and a garment of praise for a spirit of despair. I watch their faces and I see such hope.

We handed out our gifts--T-shirts with a Canada logo and also little gold purses with an assortment of goodies that one of my friends and her daughter put together. They are like typical teenagers, overjoyed to receive the gifts but it is I who feel that I have received a very precious gift that no material gift can buy---it is being in their presence and seeing the joy of the Lord in them. We sit in a circle and ask if we could pray for each of them individually. One by one they come forward with specific prayer requests. All of them asking for prayers for their families...one girl's mum is in prison because she apparently sold her daughter to the brothel but as she shares about her mum, she asks that God would make a way for her mum to be set free. Another girl has been separated from her family since she was 9. She comes from Vietnam and has never seen her family since then. She desires to be reconnected but doesn't know if this will be possible. Another girl asks for prayers for her mum who is sick ---I am touched that their first prayer requests are not for themselves but about their families. Then I am completely blown away by a request that is put forth---one girl asks that we would pray that God would bless those who have hurt her. I am stunned but I realize I have just witnessed grace in action and the words from the apostle Paul resonate in my mind, where sin increased, grace increases more. How is it possible for one who has gone through so much to ask for blessing for those who have perpetrated such heinous acts against her? Truly the Lord has shown me afresh through her the gospel of grace and His power to bring such deep healing to her soul. Indeed nothing is too hard for the Lord to do for He is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crused in spirit. (Psalm 34:18). What He has started in them is so beautiful. His holy love is indeed flowing through them like a crashing wave. Love does conquer a multitude of sins. After we pray for each of them, I anoint them with oil and sign them with the seal of the cross. God is gracious to give me a verse to share with each of them and yet the verse that sticks to my mind this morning is from Psalm 45:11 - The King (Lord) is entralled by your beauty, honor Him for He is your Lord. May they know how beautiful they are in His sight.

There is much to write about but I am re-arranging my schedule to spend as many evenings with them. We are planning to do some crafts with them, teach them how to email us and then we are planning to take them out and their caregivers for dinner this Sunday. I look forward to spending more time with these precious little friends. By their very lives, they speak to me of God's hope and His resurrection power to do more than we can ever ask or imagine!

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