Int'l Justice Mission(IJM) Staff & Suporters Visiting the Sanctuary
This morning in Svay Pak an entourage of 16 people from International Justice Mission (IJM) including IJM's founder Gary Haugen attended the morning services at The Sanctuary. They like the rest of us had the privilege of seeing a drama performed by Pastor Chantha's students which focused on a girl who was being pulled down by the forces of darkness into the world of drugs, alcohol, materialism and sex until Jesus came to save her. The students are extremely talented and love doing these dramas.
When the service was over Don & Bridget Brewster from AIM were briefing the IJM folks about all that is happening in Svay Pak and so I spent the time hanging out with one of my favorite little friends 'SN' who I haven't had a chance to see much. You may recall that last year around this time she was almost sold into a brothel run by her parents in Siem Reap. At any rate, today, she came by with her little sister who is 11 months old and I also got introduced to her mother and her half sister Chanthy as they are back in Svay Pak for 3 days. It seems SN's father is in jail for not paying back a debt he owed and so SN's mother is back in Svay Pak looking to get some funds to get him out of jail. We continue to pray for SN, for her safety during this time when her mother is back in town as her life is always at risk to the whims and fancies of her parents who in the past have wanted to take her to Siem Reap to serve their agenda.
Shortly thereafter, Siny one of the student leaders came by letting me know that Paulie another of Pastor Chantha's students had locked herself into one of the classrooms and was crying. I have blogged often about Paulie who is one of the upcoming leaders in the Youth group that Pastor Chantha runs but she is often the one that seems to be more emotionally charged at times given her life experiences. The enemy certainly knows how to push her buttons. I decided to go with Siny to chat with Paulie. There she was listening to worship music but feeling quite sad, worried about her father--at least that is what she told me and so I spent some time talking and praying with her. We left the room and Siny felt that there was another reason behind Paulie's tears. She suspected Paulie was feeling isolated as all the other students were off to the market shopping for clothes etc as we are leaving tomorrow to go to the beach for 3 days in Sihanoukville (more on that later on). Paulie on the other hand, is extremely poor and could not afford to go to the market to get anything. Well after a few conversations with Bunthan , Pastor Chantha and Paulie it appeared that all was fine until I was about to leave when I decided one more time to approach Paulie after one of the little kids pointed out that she was in tears. We went for a walk to the local 'drink' shop opposite Rahab's house and as I sat with her and chatted, the truth was unveiled just as Siny had suspected. Paulie indeed was feeling quite alone and marginalized knowing that all the other students would have clothes to wear and she had nothing. Well, on hearing this, Siny, Bunthan and I invited her to come with us to Phnom Penh to Orissey Market --a local market where Cambodians typically shop. We spent 3 hours shopping with her, helping her get all she needed and then in typical female fashion, we went to a beauty salon as I needed to get my hair trimmed. The gals decided to have their hair washed and cut and we then went out for dinner at a restaurant near my hotel. It was a wonderful time of just blessing Paulie and she remarked that she had never had such a day like this where she was able to receive so many gifts. She felt special and cared for. I shared with her that our heavenly Father loves to give us good gifts and today was simply His way of pouring out afresh His love for her in a tangible way.
Here in Svay Pak it is a challenge to not show favoritism to any one student but to treat them all equally and to give them all the same thing. Yet the gospels remind us that Christ always saw the one in the crowd that needed His help or healing and so too even in Svay Pak, tending to the lambs here involves seeing the unique needs of each of them and knowing how to encourage and bless them appropriately without creating any jealousy or favoritism. It is a delicate balance but today it was extra special to be able to minister to one young lamb who clearly felt lost and unwanted and to demonstrate to her that she is not forsaken nor forgotten neither by God nor His people.
Well as I mentioned earlier, Pastor Chantha, Bunthan, myself and their 26 students are off to the southern part of Cambodia to spend 3 days in Sihanoukville a beach resort area. The Sanctuary will be closed during this time. Unfortunately the Brewsters could not join us as they have just moved into Svay Pak this past week and are juggling a variety of pressing needs and so it will be me and my 'Cambodian family.' I am looking forward to our time there as it represents the fulfillment of a dream that in many ways is now becoming a reality. Many of you may recall that last summer when I left Cambodia, I had prayed and asked the Lord for Svay Pak as my inheritance based on Psalm 2:8. At that time I really didn't know what that meant but as the months passed by the Lord revealed to me that my future was tied up with the Sanctuary in Svay Pak. That vision became more specific when Pastor Chantha asked if I would participate in the baptism of his 26 students this summer. I was shocked when he suggested this as I felt I was reaping where I had not sown yet God reminded me that 'these students' were part of my inheritance. It is an incredible privilege and gift to be a part of such a significant event in the lives of the students and so as we go, I would value your prayers for safety in our travels. We have rented a 45 seater bus and are staying at a guest house on the beach. The students are all excited as most if not all have never been to Sihanoukville so it will be a real treat for them. We are taking 5 guitars and look forward to spending time worshiping on the beach. Pray that the Holy Spirit would descend upon each of them powerfully as they publicly declare their faith in Christ and that this will a time where God continues to knit our hearts together with His.
I am not sure how effective the internet is down in the beach area but if I can connect, I will aim to upload some pictures of our time there. Thank you all for your ongoing prayers. It's time to hit the sack as we leave at 4am tomorrow morning!