Today is one of those days filled with tears and laughter. There was a lot of stuff going on in Svay Pak. This morning I again sat in on the Trauma class as I wanted to hear the stories of the students. This particular group has been sharing a lot more personal stuff than the first group last week. Some of their comments they made were for the first time ever, so it is such a privilege to be here and to see how God is opening their hearts, making them vulnerable as they share their hurts and pains. Both male and female, one after the other, crying, some sobbing as they shared about the brokenness within their families. Their parents who have all grown up during the Khmer Rouge Era demonstrate the classic symptoms of a post traumatized society. Story after story we heard this morning of domestic violence, of alchoholism, of divorce, of abandonment and rejection---these are the common threads. It became quite clear that this
generation of Cambodians---these youth are the burden bearers. At very young ages, they were given burdens way beyond their years to bear. Each of them struggling with guilt that they didn't do enough to help their mothers in the midst of the violence or feeling they were to blame for the divorces and the abandonment and rejection they felt. Each of these youth, have carried guilt and blame, feeling that they had not done enough in their family situation. Unknowingly, they have been held in bondage to the lies of Satan that they are responsible for all their family problems. Sadly these lies taken to the extreme, cause many kids today to believe that its okay and acceptable if their parents sell their virginity. This is the ultimate lie that Satan has laid in this Asian culture that treasures the family over the individual. This is the part of the culture that is in need of Christ's redemptive power. Nonetheless, the students were reminded today that God never intended nor designed children to take care of their parents; it was and always is the parents responsibilities to take care of their children. They were reminded in each of their situations that they did the best they could and that it was not their fault what had happened. I came away from this class realizing the deep need for prayer ministry and inner healing for each of these students. There is such a need for them to walk in greater freedom in Christ and they have begun that journey as they have started to share the sorrows within their hearts. After all, Jesus was the man of sorrows well acquainted with grief and by His stripes we are healed. It is no wonder they are drawn to Jesus and drawn to the 'family' environment that Pastor Chantha and Bunthan are cultivating here at The Sanctuary. Indeed as they serve here, they are discovering the Sanctuary of Christ, they are discovering and tasting His unconditional love for them, they are discovering His peace which passes all understanding, they are discovering hope in Him, they are discovering His joy in the midst of sorrow, they are experiencing His healing balm washing over them, but most of all they are learning and discovering that they can cast all their cares and all their burdens on their Heavenly Father.
One of the saddest story I heard today was a story of 'B'. Her father remarried and she was the child of the second mother but unfortunately all of her life she had felt unloved, rejected andabandoned by her father who gave all he had to his first family and none to her and her mother. One day she came home from school scoring at the top of her class but her father dismissed her accusing her of paying the teacher (a common occurrence here) in order to get the high marks and told her she would never be clever. I couldn't help but think of the verse in Proverbs 'reckless words pierce the soul but the words of the wise bring healing.' Reckless words have pierced 'B's soul so deeply leaving wounds of rejection and abandonment, but this week, God has began a journey to heal her heart, a journey that no doubt has taken her to the cross but one that will ultimately lead to a resurrected heart that will have new hope in the One who loves her with an everlasting love and who has promised that He will never leave her nor forsake her. As I sat and listen to her story, the verse that God laid on my heart for her was fromIsaiah 49:15-16 --- 'can a mother (or father) forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne, though she may forget you, I (God) will not forget you, see I have engraved you on the palm of My hands and your walls are ever before me. Pray for 'B' that she will discover afresh that God loves her and has fearfully and wonderfully made her and chosen her to be His treasured possession. The wounds are deep, but God's love is deeper still!
Well that was the morning and this afternoon at the Kids club the Bayside team continued their program of teaching the kids all sorts of songs. One of the theme songs that the kids have learned in English is one that says 'Jesus' love is bubbling over in my heart'---the kids really love this tune and even as they run into the kids club, they will be singing it.
Kids Club Bible Lesson - Saying the Sinners Prayer
Today during the bible lesson time, the kids heard the sinners prayer and were asked 'if they wanted to
receive Jesus in their hearts'. They were asked to raise their hands while they eyes were closed if this was the first time they had ever prayed this prayer. Many of them lifted their hands up in the air and several of the team members came over to pray for them. To what extent they really understand what they have prayed, God is the only one who really knows but it was a touching sight to see so many asking to receive Jesus into their hearts.
Kids Raising Their Hands after Saying the Sinners prayer
Indeed, the harvest is plentiful here in Svay Pak as God is planting His seeds in this garden--a place that was once a desert is now
becoming a place where little buds are blossoming. Thank you Lord that you never forget where You plant the seeds. May You water the seeds that have been sown during the Kids club as you touch the little hearts in Svay Pak and build Your kingdom in them!
Strongest Man in Svay Pak Contest
By late afternoon another event was happening, in fact it has been going on all week long. It's called the Strongest Man in Svay Pak Contest. The purpose is to encourage the men who are the strongest to build and invest in their community. 13 participants have joined since the beginning of this week and each day they have been doing different bench pressing events at the Lord's Gym and participating in activities on the main street in Svay Pak with the spectator crowd growing as the days go by.
Today there was a tire lifting relay. Yes there is all sorts of crazy antics going on in Svay Pak but you have to remember the boys who are participating in these events are pimps and gang members so this is more than just a contest. God is at work in some subversive ways to reach the criminal element in this community and to transform their hearts!
The Winner of Today's Tire Lifting Event