Saturday, June 28, 2008
The definition comes from the famed archbishop William Temple: “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose--all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”
Dear Lord Jesus, take us deeper into the heart of worship that we might worship you in this all encompassing way that William Temple describes---submitting ourselves fully into all of who you are and claim to be. Sanctify us daily through the reading of your Word that our minds might be fully consecreated to you so that every waking moment you are enlarging our divine creativity and expanding our awareness of your beauty in the mundane and in the majestic. Let it be that our hearts may daily receive your love as the Holy Spirit flows in us pouring our your love into the deepest areas of our souls so that we in turn can be Christ's fragrance of love to a hurting world. And make our wills be inclined in complete surrender to your Kingdom purposes so that our entire being may adore you as the lyrics from the song called 'Let Us Adore You' describe!
The heavens declare
The glory of God
And all of the world
Will join the praise
His wonders proclaim
The oceans and skies
Lift up their voice
And all all He has made
Will rise to bless
The King of all kings.
Let us adore Him
Let us adore Him
Jeus Christ is the Lord
Come and behold Him
Bow down before Him
Jesus Christ is the Lord
Is coming again
Though all of the earth
Will fade away
His truth will remain
You are worthy of all praise
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Joining me for this year’s pilgrimage to Cambodia are 5 others each of whom God has hand picked. Charlene my fellow armour bearer who has participated in 2 previous trips to Cambodia; Hiroko a mother of two daughters, who volunteers with International Justice Mission; Brenda who has served the youth at my church and whom God has given a heart for kids; Janice who attended our Slaying The Giant conference last year and is following God’s promptings to take more tangible action to speak up for child sex slaves and Genie, who had no interest in Cambodia nor missions, until the Holy Spirit touched her when Brian McConaghy, the founder of Ratanak, spoke at her church last fall.
GOING OUTSIDE THE CAMP
So what will we be doing? We have been blessed with a very special opportunity to go into the heart of a community called Svay Pak---a notorious brothel area that in the past has catered to child prostitution. Today much of this illicit trade still exist, but it is hidden in plain sight as the kids do not live at brothels but live with their families and are summoned when their ‘services’ are required in the evening. As a team, we are joining hands with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) Cambodia, Aim4Asia staff and Cathy De La Cruz an OMF missionary, to conduct a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for two weeks at a community centre called Rahab House ---a former brothel which is now being rented by one of the Ratanak Foundation partners AIM4Asia. This former brothel was highlighted in a Dateline NBC documentary in 2003 called ‘Children For Sale’ and was the very place from which International Justice mission (IJM) rescued 37 young girls. Last year, I visited this building in its sordid state and walked inside these small cubicles where young girls were raped and tortured daily. Today, this very building has been transformed both inside and out as a team visiting from Fairview Presbyterian Church ,Vancouver, recently tore down the cubicles and repainted and renovated the entire property. God is redeeming this property for His purposes ---no longer is it a place of pain where screams would be heard, it has become a place of laughter, a place of joy and a place offering hope to a generation of kids who are always at risk of being sold into the sex trade. This building to me has become ‘holy ground’--- a symbol of God’s presence, a symbol of new life, a symbol of His redemptive purposes---it is a place where God’s light can be found amidst the darkness that pervades a community that desperately needs to be set free from the grip of Satan’s tyranny.
Also joining us in this VBS outreach in Svay Pak are some special young friends from the Newsong Centre that is funded by Ratanak. Some of you may recall that the Newsong Centre is a rehabilitation centre for girls who are rescued from the sex trade. I look forward to partnering with these precious ones who to me are living testimonies that God can do immeasurable more than we can ever ask or imagine. Indeed, they reflect the power of His resurrection and demonstrate by their lives, that we are more than conquerors through Him.
During our weekends and in our 3rd week, we also will be spending time prayer walking brothel areas and ministering to missionaries from a variety of ministries. Specifically, we will be going to some of my familiar jaunts---participating in the monthly birthday party at Place of Rescue AIDS Centre and orphanage run by my dear friend Marie Ens. We will spend time with Pastor Sok & Savy Em who oversee the Tahas Bible Institute located in Kampong Chhnang that seeks to equip and train pastors, and we will re-connect with Kim Bui, a C&MA missionary, who manages New Hope Ministries which provides education to the marginalized Vietnamese community that has a notorious track record for selling their daughters into prostitution. We will also be attending prayer meetings of International Justice Mission(IJM) Cambodia and another organization whose name remains anonymous as it is a short term assessment centre that ministers to young girls who are immediately rescued from brothel raids. Lastly, we will be connecting with Daughters Cambodia one of the newest Ratanak partners. Daughters offers transitional housing, vocational courses in addition to small business schemes all of which provide viable alternatives for girls who want to leave the sex trade. On Easter Sunday, 14 girls were baptized and with each coming week the ministry seems to be growing as more girls discover a new life of freedom, hope and peace outside the brothel. But this ministry doesn’t just limit its work to victims of sexual trafficking, it also seeks to reach out to those whose business is to exploit women and children—the brothel owners. Recently, two brothel owners have started attending church. It is this kind of radical ministry that serves to remind me that just as Jesus went outside the ‘camp’ (Hebrews 13:13) so too He calls us to do the same. John Piper once said, God is calling us to go outside the place of comfort and safety and religious sanctuary to join Jesus in the risky places, the dangerous places, the dirty places. It represents the priority of resisting the incredible inertia of comfort and security—of wanting to spend all our time inside the camp. But what is outside the camp? Strangeness, uncertainties, drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes. When God says to us, "Go outside the camp with my Son to share the abuse he shared," he means, "Let your light so shine before men"—before lost and needy men outside the camp, not just in the ease and comfort of your church and your home. The light should shine in the dark. And it's dark outside the camp.
As we head out to these places that are ‘outside the camp’, places where darkness reigns, we know that apart from God and without His Spirit working in and through us, we will be labouring in vain to shine His light and to be His witnesses that the gospel is truly the hope of the nations, and so we value your prayers for our time in Cambodia. For those of you who would like to journey along with us in prayer on a daily basis, I have enclosed our ministry schedule as well as a link to our blog: http://cambodiamission2008.blogspot.com/ where we hope to provide daily updates while in Cambodia.
Pray that we will have minimal jet lag and that our luggage will arrive safely including a piano keyboard for one of the missionaries.
Pray for the children in Svay Pak who will be attending the VBS that God will prepare their hearts to be receptive to His word and that it will fall on ‘good soil.’
Pray for all whom we are partnering with: AIM4Asia workers, CEF workers, the girls from the Newsong Centre, Cathy De La Cruz and also for each of us on our team that a spirit of unity will pervade all that we do.
Pray for protection over us and our families as we enter into places of darkness that God would surround us, sustain us, keep us healthy and seal of any access points in which the enemy would attack us.
Pray that God’s name would be glorified in all the VBS lessons, the games, the music and the crafts.
For those of you who live in Toronto, our Cambodian friends that run Our Thai restaurant (in Vaughan) is hosting a fundraiser buffet luncheon (Adults: $20, Kids: $10) on Sunday July 6th at 12:30pm. If you would like to attend please RSVP to me by Monday June 30th by email
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I returned home and found myself admiring the trees near outside my home…the flower buds were slowly coming out and each day the colours from the flowers on one particular tree got brighter and brighter and the aroma became more prominent. I can’t help but think that we are just like those flowers and plants. God has created each of us so unique, so different in shape, size and colour and yet together we reflect His beauty and glory in a way that paints a wonderful picture of the Master’s hands. Each of us are like flowers, who emanate the aroma of Christ where ever we are and whatever He has called us to do. Through the gifts and talents He has given us, we reflect His beauty to a world that is filled so often with darkness and despair.
In just over 6 weeks, 6 of us will be heading to Cambodia, a place that is all too familiar with darkness, desolation and destruction. Yet even there, God longs to see His glory shine. And so we will head there, trusting Him to lead us on, to be His flowers as He waters us daily through His word and through His Spirit, giving us life that we might offer His light and life to those who have never tasted nor experienced His light. It is my prayer that we will be the fragrance of Christ in each place we go and in the ministry He has called us too. That His scent and His aroma will flow and touch many and in the midst of all the muck and dirt and dust, many will discover the One true God, who is sovereign over all creation and whose aroma is so captivating and beauty so breadth taking that they will bow their hearts and knees before Him to worship Him in all His splendour.