Friday, November 12, 2010

The Water Festival and The Hidden Agenda

After the national election 1993, Cambodia re-instated the celebration of the Water Festival Ceremony during 3 days annually. This year’s celebration is held on Saturday November 20th, Sunday November 21 and Monday November 22nd. Many Cambodians flock from different provinces and cities into Phnom Penh in order to watch boat racing on the Mekong River and to celebrate the end of monsoon season. Dragon boats race for three days with the king overseeing. More than 400 boats, propelled by precision-trained oarsmen, take part in the annual boat race, the highlight of the Water Festival or Bonn Om Touk. In the history, the Khmer King always does the battle with enemies by sailing. Therefore the Water Festival Ceremony is viewed as army training in preparation to do a battle.

In addition, the Water Festival also marks a unique natural phenomenon - the Tonle Sap river reverses the flow of its current. It is probably the only waterway in the world which flows in opposite directions at different times of the year. From November to May, the Tonle Sap river runs into the Mekong just like any other tributary. The changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap River is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. And at the time, the Tonle Sap River reverts to its normal down-stream direction.

Some regard it as perhaps the best time of any for meeting the people and enjoying the culture of Cambodia but the capital is impossibly crowded! It is not then surprising that the city takes on a carnival atmosphere during this period. Open-air live concerts are held, make-shift food stalls selling a variety of local fare are set up in parks and children as well as adults take rides on ferris wheels. Colourful buntings and banners adorn government buildings and as night falls the Royal Palace is brightly lit with colourful lights. Brilliant fireworks illuminate the night sky and flotillas, outlined by lights, glide gracefully down the river. One article I read commented that this is, in fact, Cambodia's version of the Mardis Gras.

Why am I telling you all of this? With any major festival and great influx of people into the city also brings with it the dregs of society, those tourists who have a different agenda on their mind. They are the sex tourists and international pedophiles who prey on the vulnerable and innocent. They come with their money to indulge in their sick fantasies. They enter this mardi gras environment with one intention and that is to destroy another little life through their raucous and vile behaviour. Pastor Chantha is asking us for prayer during this time. With any holiday in Cambodia, the pedophile activity increases in Svay Pak. The water festival is a 3 day event and people are coming from all over and in recent weeks, there has been an increase in pedophiles visiting Svay Pak. One can only imagine what will happen this upcoming weekend of Nov 20th to 22nd. But just like the Water Festival Ceremony is viewed as army training in preparation to do a battle so too, God is calling us prepare and be ready for battle. To get ready--- He is calling us to get on our knees and to use the most powerful and subversive weapons we have, for the weapons we fight with are not with the weapons of the world. He is challenging us to use the weapon of prayer to call upon the heavenly armies to intercede, intervene and to do battle, to stand in the gap for those vulnerable young children who are highly at risk in Svay Pak of being sold and trafficked during the upcoming water festival holiday.

So here we are as God’s people, and as I think of what forces of darkness that are about to descend not only in Phnom Penh but in Svay Pak, God has brought to mind the story in 2 Kings 6. It is the story of an enraged king of Aram who sent his horses and chariots to surround the city to capture Elijah. Elijah’s servant was afraid when he got up early the next morning and saw this vast army surrounding the city and he said in 2 Kings 6:15. Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked

And so I ask on behalf of those who are serving on the frontlines in Svay Pak, for Pastor Chantha, Bunthan, Ratanak, the disciples and all of children at risk of being sold in Svay Pak, that we would storm the gates of heaven so that God will surround the village of Svay Pak with His warrioring angels and chariots of fire and that all who would seek to enter into to do evil, would be struck down with blindness. For the tuk-tuk drivers who would transport the kids or the pedophiles---they would be stuck in a traffic jam, hemmed in on all sides. For the traffickers who would seek to sell the kids---their phones would go dead, their hearts would be convicted---every one of their plans will be frustrated and no kids, that’s right, let’s pray for the impossible, that no kids will be sold, that no appointments will be made for the children to be transported to a hotel in Phnom Penh. For the children at risk---hide them in your shelter Lord. Keep them from prying eyes and from those who would seek to terrorize and traumatize them.

Let us begin this journey to pray big and pray bold over this next week for this is a journey of faith as Hebrews 11:1 says ---- faith is the assurance of things hoped for and a conviction of things yet unseen. This is what we hope for Lord, we have the confident assurance that You can and are able to act and will act to protect the innocent, to preserve the vulnerable and to frustrate the plans of the evil. We have full conviction of the invisible realities of the kingdom of God and the heavenly armies that will stand on guard to protect those who are defenseless. 12For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. 13He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 14From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight. (Psalm 72:12-14)

Just like the Tonle Sap river reverses its flow during this time of year, Lord we ask that you would reverse the flow of the pedophiles and traffickers. Shut them down, block their efforts, frustrate every evil plan conceived. Thank you Jesus that your arm is not too short to save! Show us Your saving power, show us what a Mighty Fortress you are, show the kids in Svay Pak that You are their Shield, their Protector, their Refuge, their High Tower, their Hiding Place---show us all O’ Lord that there is no God like you! You are the God of the Impossible!