Sunday, March 28, 2010

Worship Painting

Saturday and the team decided to divide the day into two focuses, the morning to put in some time painting in Svay Pak and the rest of the day to take a somewhat slower pace and explore some of the many wonders of Phnom Penh. The Lord has shown us great favour in the weather. Today the high was about 30 degrees and a bit overcast. As I understand it, this is somewhat "cooler" than the norm for the time of year. It has allowed the team to be gently broken in by less extreme temperatures...that is not to say that we are without our share of sweat! Each day we travel down the main road to Svay Pak is a fascinating overview of life in urban Cambodia. The streets are lined with shanty store fronts that sell anything and everything you could possibly imagine. As it is early morning, there are many on their way to work, others eating at the numerous road side tables, preparations for funerals and still others busy at an endless process of working on vehicles and motos in various degrees of disrepair. Although materially poor to the western eye, it becomes evident that community is an important fabric of life here in suburbs of Phnom Penh. There is dignity and determination to live out another day overcoming the many hardships they face. As we drive by, we can also see the shops where young girls (including children) are positioned to attract.

After our morning devotions and prayer time, we broke into crews of 3 and each headed to a floor to begin painting. As most of us were working in the stairwells, it wasn't long before a chorus of beloved, classic hymns filled the building with song. As everything in the building is made of a hard surface it effectively reverberated our song to even louder levels (and likely covered a few wrong notes). The workmen in the building stopped, the people on the street stopped as the hymns could be heard farther away in all directions. On this day our ministry was more than strokes of paint, it was to send the message of Jesus Christ out in song into the adjacent streets. Pastor Chantha dropped in and we sang one of his favourites, Amazing Grace, which touched him. We pray that the "strange" sounds that the people heard will plant seeds of interest and that things are changing in Svay Pak. What a blessing the morning was!

Just before noon, we quickly changed clothes (trying to mop up the sweat and scrub the paint off hands and face) and headed back to Phnom Penh for lunch. We made the decision to eat at the historic Foreign Correspondents Club which is featured in the movie "The Killing Fields". As we ascended the stair, the hallway was a mini gallery with pictures from the Khmer Rouge era. Some of the pictures were…graphic and served to remind us once again of the terrible atrocities and brutalities enacted against the gentle and unsuspecting people of Cambodia. It is a contributing piece of their history that helped to set the cultural stage for the emergence of child trafficking.

Following a wonderful lunch, the team headed over to a newly opened shop called "Daughters". The store was developed by a partner agency also working to eradicate sexual exploitation. The store is run by a number of beautiful, gracious, and tremendously brave young women. They are brave because a few years prior, these young girls were caught in sex trafficking. These young girls are being taught to operate a viable business, selling hand made goods by girls who are in the process of healing and recovery. The vision of the store is to raise funds to support the ongoing rescue and rehabilitation of other young girls in the sex industry. These young girls do not want to be known for what they have come out of in their past. They want to be known for making a positive contribution to their community, to advocate against child sex trafficking and provide a means of earning a respectable living and hope for the future. Our team quickly filled the store and got down to the serious business of shopping. The main message of hope comes from the colour of the store front- it is red from top to bottom. The red is a reminder that they have been covered and made clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. Yes Jesus Christ has opened a shop on street 178 that continues to bring hope to young girls otherwise trapped in a dark and evil world. Jesus is the hope of the world.


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