Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our Sisters, Our Daughters, Our Children!

These past few weeks I wished I had more hours in a day but then again I remember that God only needed 24 hours so why do I think I need more! There has been so much happening and in all of these wonderful activities it is so easy to focus on the ministry and not on the relationship. Henry Blackaby once said that we need to keep examining the quality of our love relationship with Jesus. I value those wise words for what do we have to offer others if we do not gain our strength, wisdom, energy, love, hope, peace and joy from the One who came to give us life. It is times like this when my plate seems full that I need to abide in the Vine for apart from Him I can do nothing and I labor in vain. So yesterday, my Sabbath day--- I say Sabbath and people think I take the whole day off but what I mean is I protect my Monday evenings so that I can just relax and do whatever I feel like without any agenda. As the weather is getting warmer and the days are longer I have been going walking for 1 hour--- Me, my IPOD and God….it has been a sweet time listening to a sermon and then spending time praying and talking to the Lord about all sorts of things.

I’m dreaming and imaging possibilities with Him because each day is filled with new surprises. I never know what to expect when I check my emails. I feel privileged to be connected with so many different people. Last night I got an email from our newest Ratanak partner Ruth Elliot who runs Daughters Cambodia (www.daughterscambodia.org) I have been reading a newsletter she sent and found myself in tears reading about ‘my sisters’ in Cambodia. This past March, 14 girls were baptized during a special Easter service and joined the family of God. These are my sisters, my daughters, the ones I look forward to seeing and meeting when I go to Cambodia in July. I have not met them as yet, but my heart is knitted with their heart. We share a bond now in Christ. These are the ones for whom Jesus came and who He beckons us to serve and to love. In the world’s eyes, they are viewed as disposable, outcasts, but in God’s eyes, they are not forsaken nor forgotten by Him. They are His treasures, precious ones for whom He came for, for whom He died and for whom He rose again to demonstrate to us that in Him, we can experience new life. Indeed it takes on a whole new meaning when one looks at lives that have been treated worse than animals….spit at, tortured, raped, drugged and beaten…and yet they show me what it means to share in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. They can identify with Him at a level that I only read about.

As I read their testimonies, I am reminded again about the resilience of the human spirit….where sin increases, grace increases more and our Lord indeed can and is able to restore dignity beyond what we can ever imagine. These sisters continue to be my heroes. They give new meaning to the words ‘more than conquerors.’ Shame, guilt and fear does not have the last word, love does. Love has come down and lifted them up and has bestowed on them a crown of beauty for ashes. I enclosed a couple of their testimonies but if you would like to be on Daughters Cambodia prayer list and learn more about this organization, how you can get involved and what God is doing in and through this amazing ministry please email: daughterscambodia@gmail.com

Below are two stories from young women at Daughters. Their names have been changed to protect their identity but I trust as you read them, that God will fill you with hope that all things are possible with Him!

Sinah’s Story

From my very first day at Daughters, there has been one girl who consistently makes me feel welcomed and accepted. Her name is Sinah, she is a 17 year old beauty with a feisty personality and a fierce confidence. Although her English is limited to the basics like, “Hello” and “How are you?”, she is constantly struggling to communicate with myself and other English speakers that come to the center. Upon meeting Sinah, one might see a normal teenage girl who is well adjusted and light hearted; but as I get to know her better, I find that there is more than meets the eye. Sinah used to work as a sex worker in a bar. One day, her mother fell ill and she had to go to the province to care for her. She spent 15 days nursing her back to health, only to come back to the city and find that they had kicked her out of the brothel. Alone and not knowing what to do, Sinah decided to take her cousin’s advice and check out the NGO called Daughters of Cambodia. When she did, she knew her life would never be the same.

“Everything is better than before,” she tells me with a smile, “It is honest work, I can take care of my mother in the province, and I am free from guilt.” It is here at the center that Sinah has found the true freedom in Christ. “I used to live in the darkness, but now I live in the light.” Although Sinah has found peace and joy in her new life here at Daughters, she finds herself battling Satan’s lies on a daily basis. “I am free and I threw everything from my old life away, but I am still broken hearted,” she whispers quietly. The conversation has shifted and I am beginning to see another side of this precious girl.

She begins to pour out her heart, revealing the tragic reality, that at times the pain is so strong and so intense, her whole body goes numb. “Sometimes when I go numb, I will sew right through my finger and not even notice. I can’t even feel the pain,” Sinah tells me with tears in her eyes. When I look down, I notice she has a brace around her ankle; my heart begins to ache.

And then, she says something that both surprises and humbles me, “But that is how I know God loves me so much. He watches over me and keeps me safe when I cannot do it myself. He has to take care of me.” Sinah’s faith in the Lord is becoming stronger and stronger every day. Although the people in her life do not understand her decision to follow Christ, she will not turn back to her old life.

“Sometimes it feels like I am the enemy of Cambodia. Everyone calls me crazy and a bad Buddhist,” she stares blankly out the window before turning back to say, “So I ask God, “If I know you and it is right- Why do all these people hate me? Is it right?”” Then, after a long pause filled with careful consideration she says, “But I know I’m not crazy, because now I live in the light. I am free with Christ- so I will continue to choose Him. He has led me here and I am thankful.”

As our time together comes to an end, I find myself amazed at the wisdom this young woman possesses. She trusts Jesus with everything she is. She knows that no matter what happens in this life, she will remain a follower of Jesus. “I am thankful for Daughters, because it gave me a new life and told me about God,” Sinah makes her final statement and quietly goes back to work.

Naly’s Story:
After being sold by her parents into a relationship with a Chinese businessman, Naly was forced to leave her home in Cambodia and migrate to China. Her life would never be the same. When she returned from China, her parents tried to sell her once again, but this time to a Korean man. That was when she learned about Daughters of Cambodia. I knew that I had to make money to support my parents, but I didn’t want to go back to that life,” Naly calmly states. She had heard about Daughters through a friend and began working the first day she came to the center.

When she talks, Naly speaks with elegance and poise; always composed, she exudes strength. But when talking about Daughters, her new friends, and Ruth (her boss), she seems to lose that composure that makes her so untouchable. “My life is so much better than before,” she says as her eyes get misty, “I have learned so much, while supporting my family at the same time.”
Naly has a very keen mind and has learned skills quickly, making her a valuable asset to the Daughters businesses. She loves to learn new things and always enjoys sewing, making jewellery, and making art. It was also at the Daughters center that she came to know the Lord for the first time. “I didn’t believe in Jesus when I heard about him at the center, until one night before I went to sleep, I prayed a prayer to him. I said, “God, if you are God, please help me.” Naly had been going through some hardships and was struggling to find comfort in the midst of her sadness. “That night when I went to sleep, I was filled with peace. That was how I knew that Jesus was real.”

As Naly continues to excel in her position here at Daughters, she prays that the Lord will continue to bless the center. She emphasized the importance of having the center, “This NGO is so good, because it gives sex workers a way out of prostitution. It saved my life and I would like to thank all of our donors.”

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