A new chicken!
It was just after lunch as Pastor Chantha, Bunthan, myself and some of the disciples were just sitting around chatting when a 'new chicken' came passing by The Sanctuary. He had stopped to take a photo and Pastor Chantha went out to chat with him and I grabbed my camera and joined him with some of the disciples at the entrance. Its strange but I think we all get excited when we see a 'new chicken.' Pastor Chantha told the 'new chicken' not to take any pictures of The Sanctuary but the 'new chicken' was a little annoyed and said 'he could take a picture if he wanted.' While its true, he was obviously not interested in respecting the wishes of Pastor Chantha and his tone was a bit condescending so of course, I couldn't help but jump in. I decided to be a bit more direct in my conversation with him asking him where he was from and why he was in Svay Pak? He replied that he was American but had been living in Vietnam for 2 years teaching (that is usually a cover that many pedophiles use to gain access to children and youth) and he had to leave to renew his visa. He heard about Svay Pak having a lot of Vietnamese and so he thought he would come by. How'd you like that for a story!
So I asked him which part of the U.S he was from but he said he had lived all over. I kept pressing him why he had come to Svay Pak in the middle of the day when it really was clearly not a tourist spot but he just said he heard about it and wanted to check it out. So I began to be a bit more direct and told him the only people who hear about Svay Pak are people who are coming to abuse children in the community. He wanted to know who Pastor Chantha and I were and I said we were here to protect the kids in this community from anyone who would want to hurt them. I also said to him that we were part of the 'anti-trafficking' group in this community and I suggested to him that he should leave as being a single white male, he would be labeled a pedophile and the police would be watching him and so would we. I asked him if he would let me take a picture but at that point he stormed off! I know that was a bit bold of me but I figured the worst he could say was 'no' but it was worth asking the question to see the response! As Pastor Chantha said, 'if he was not a pedophile he wouldn't have a problem having his picture taken' so we got one of our 'young teenage' boys (the ex-pimp) to go running after him to get a frontal view of the new chicken and praise God we got a decent shot. A few minutes later, we saw the 'new chicken' leave in his tuk-tuk.
I have to say I quite like having these direct conversations with the 'chickens'---instead of beating around the bush and being vague, its felt good to just be direct and confront him. In a way, it is exposing the darkness and evil intent of these men but more than that, it was nice to see him feeling a bit cornered, irritated, exposed and clearly frustrated. My prayer is that he would let his other 'chicken friends' know that they should avoid Svay Pak since its not what it used to be.
No doubt there are many pedophiles around and am sure many more will continue to drop into Svay Pak but nonetheless, just like we are called to seek justice one child at a time, in a similar vein, we are challenging these pedophiles one at a time. We pray that in doing so, more and more God will use these encounters to bring deep conviction in the hearts of these men and that where ever they go, they will feel so cornered and frustrated as God prevents them from fulfilling their destructive agenda against the vulnerable.