Monday, May 31, 2010

Cambodia Bound!

Over the past 10 years as I have had the opportunity to go to Cambodia each year, God has been shaping and forming His call upon my life. In 2008, I along with 5 others had the privilege to run a vacation bible school in Svay Pak---a community renown among the world as ground zero for child sex trafficking. Little did I realize then the impact this dusty town would have on my life and the seeds God would plant for this year’s trip.

Last summer while in Cambodia, I was having a meeting with a missionary who was serving in Svay Pak and she shared horrific stories of kids who attended the daily kids club held by our Ratanak partners at Rahab’s House. Some of these kids were so badly assaulted and abused that they could barely walk, others could barely sit and others had bruises on their thighs. These were kids that I knew. kids that I had played with, held, hugged as if they were my own children. I left that meeting disturbed in my spirit, overwhelmed by emotions that I could not express. God had planted something in my heart but I didn’t know what.

The following morning the Lord revealed what He had deposited in a way that I had not anticipated. Two of my team members asked if there was anything they could pray for me on and instantly Psalm 2:8 came to mind ‘Ask the Lord for the nations and He will give you them as your inheritance.’ That morning, I felt led to ask the Lord for the community of Svay Pak as my inheritance. This is one of those outrageous bold prayers as Svay Pak is not exactly the type of promised land flowing with milk and honey, at least not in the visible reality, yet I was reminded that we serve a God who is in the business of doing the impossible—of transforming and redeeming communities that the world has forsaken but God has not forgotten.


And so upon returning home I began to pray daily asking the Lord for a vision for Svay Pak. About a month into that prayer, God began to reveal what this vision would look like when I received an email from my colleague Brian McConaghy who runs The Ratanak Foundation. Brian described a ‘red building, that was being built to be the largest sex tourist hotel/child brothel on the main street in Svay Pak. It would be a place where sex tourists and pedophiles from all over the world could come and live as long as they want and rape and assault the kids in the community to their hearts content. But because of the surveillance going on in the community, because of the raids and Christian presence of our Ratanak partners from Aim4Asia, the owners of that building felt it was too high risk to continue to build and so the opportunity arose for the Ratanak Foundation to buy this building at the end of October. The vision for this building which we now call ‘The Sanctuary’ would house a Christian school for kids in the community who had no other access to education. It would also have a medical clinic to support the community, it would be a place of residence for local staff and expat missionary staff and finally, it would be the new home for the growing church that had run out of space at Rahab’s House (a former brothel, that is now an outreach centre and church). When I first heard of this vision, I began to cry for I felt God saying to me ‘Lisa, this is the vision, this is the vision, your future is tied up with this building.’

The ‘Sanctuary’ officially opened on Wednesday May 26 with over 600 people (including government officials, village leaders and villagers) sitting through the sweltering heat for 3+ hours. They heard the gospel in song, drama, word and action (see photos from the previous blog entry)


While God had shown me the vision, I am a person who likes to be in control and likes to plan ahead and know details, and so I began to pray asking God ‘what my role in Svay Pak’ would be. The Lord’s response came via my colleague Brian McConaghy who said ‘Lisa, you don’t need a role when you are going home. God has blessed you with amazing friendships in that community, go and spend time there and the Lord will show you the next step. At that moment, I felt that God was challenging me to take a step of obedience, to trust Him, to let go of my need to control and to go with a blank slate that He would fill and shape as He so desired. After all, Kenny Luck in his book on Risk says: Predictability, Control, Safety and Comfort are words that Jesus challenges us to throw out the window. Because, when it comes to our faith, all the energy spent eliminating risk from our life actually becomes a barrier to progress in our spiritual journey. Jesus said, “If you try to keep your life for yourself you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake…you will find true life” (Mark 8:35). There really is no such thing as the “safe life” when you are committed to Christ–when you seek to become a person after God’s own heart. Instead, Jesus personally challenges us to bet our life totally on Him.

So on June 3rd, I will be leaving to go and serve in Svay Pak for 2 months and the Lord has indeed been preparing the way. Over the past 5 months, I have had the privilege of having regular skype phone calls with Pastor Chantha and his wife Bunthan who oversee the ministries in Svay Pak as they have shared the needs in Svay Pak and we have spent time praying through them. These conversations have fueled my burden for this community, a community that 2 years ago, I had such a revulsion towards.

As I head on this adventure to Svay Pak, I would value your prayers for I know there will be bitter and sweet moments. After all, the darkness still exist in Svay Pak---there are still little kids being sold into sexual slavery on a regular basis ---they are like sheep being sent to the slaughter, but I am convinced that as we join together in praying big and bold prayers, that the God we serve and love will breakdown and tear down the walls of injustice and the ancient gates in this community so that the King of Glory can fully enter in and transform both the people and this place from one of darkness to a place of light. For in Svay Pak, Christ has so clearly moved in to take up residence and He has already begun to give us the privilege of seeing treasures in the darkness, of seeing Jesus in the least of these, in the faces, in the laughter, in the hugs given and received from the 120 little girls and boys who come to Rahab’s House Kids club. We have seen Him transform a former brothel to a community outreach centre called Rahab’s House. We have seen Him thwart the plans of man who would seek to destroy lives by halting the construction of the largest child brothel in Svay Pak and transforming it to His Sanctuary, and we are witnessing the first fruits of a harvest as the church at Rahab’s house has grown to over 200 people in just two short years as young and old come to know Him as Lord and Savior. Indeed we are seeing the forgotten become the chosen, the broken become the restored and the captive become free. These are some of precious gifts that we have witnessed, yet we ask Him for more, to see His kingdom come in all its fullness and His will be done in Svay Pak as He redeems an entire community to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

For those of you who would like to journey along with me in prayer on a daily basis, you can follow my activities on this Ratanak blog: where I hope to provide daily updates. As well, keep checking on theRatanak Facebook page for video prayer updates from Svay Pak. Thank you for your prayer support and for your willingness to stand in the gap!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Sanctuary in Svay Pak is Now Open!!!

The largest building in Svay Pak intended to be a child brothel hotel is now open as a church, clinic and school.

Last evening my heart was in Cambodia and on the main street even if my body was in Vancouver. Marie and Sotheary represented Ratanak in my absence. What an amazing thing to have a Christian service, speeches, gospel youth drama with three cabinet ministers and a packed street... On THAT street!

Details to follow but here are some photos from about 12 hours ago.


Note: Photos taken by Murray Larwill and Sotheary