Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Dear Friend

One of the people who inspires me in Cambodia is my dear friend Marie Ens who founded Place of Rescue. It was through Marie that I first heard about Ratanak way back in 2004. Today was our first 'date'on Cambodian soil as both our schedules have been quite chaotic of  late. We met up for a 2 1/2 hour lunch which was just too short as I had another meeting to attend to in the mid afternoon so we're hoping to meet again before she heads to Canada for a brief visit and spend a longer time not just sharing but also praying for each other. I am always blessed and energize when I talk to Marie because she speaks with insight, wisdom and understanding of the Cambodian culture and way of life. I can't believe this year she is celebrating her 50th year in Cambodia. Isn't that incredible.

Today, I was picking her brain on a variety of issues one of which is how to learn the language. Yes I'm a bit obsessed with trying to acquire the language. It was nice to get some tips on how to practice especially when I don't have much time to interact with Cambodians on a daily basis. She suggested I use flashcards --- writing the English on one side and the Khmer on the other side and then of course there is something called sentence substitution where you say the same verb but replace a noun with a new word. Its little techniques like this that I am grateful for.

Whenever I think of Marie, I am reminded of what my pastor one said, ''its one thing to start well, but its another thing to finish well.' When we read the bible stories, we see many who set their heart on pilgrimage with the Lord but some where along the line, they got sidetracked and never finished the race. Yet in Marie, I see one who inspires and challenges me to run the race that Christ has set before me. Now into her late 70s, she continues to run hard with a boundless enthusiasm, passion and energy that she attributes to the Lord. She has so many stories to tell about the challenges and joy of working with AIDs orphans and their families. It is not always easy investing in lives that have come from highly dysfunctional experiences. The learning never stops and much patience is required because it is not easy to understand why people make certain choices. We have to be so careful that we do not become cynical, bitter or resentful when the choices they make do not line up with the values that we believe in. In these situations, we are constantly reminded that it is so crucial to keep your eyes on the Lord and to not give up and not get tired of doing good. As Marie said, Satan would want to keep us constantly disillusioned if we focus on the negative, but we are called to not give up because at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing. (Galatians 6:7)

Here in Cambodia, the dismantling of the family structures during the Khmer Rouge era has led to much domestic violence. But there is also a strong spirit of lust that seems prevalent in this culture and these two factors continue to wreak havoc in the lives of the AIDS families and orphans. Some AIDS widows are still looking for a husband despite their physical ailments and are willing to leave the safety of Rescue to live with men who drink, gamble and physically abuse them. They would rather pursue that alternative lifestyle than live by themselves.  People are focused on 'survival'-- the focus is in the short term and immediate gratification,  not the long term. It is totally understandable when one considers the history of this country and the poverty and suffering that permeates the landscape here. People are longing for something to give them pleasure and hope because their lives are filled with so much pain.

Yet despite these situations, one of the stories she was sharing involved a 17 year old orphan whose father murdered his mother and is willing to coming along side and be a big brother to another orphan who is expected to arrive at Rescue soon from a similar experience. God is using the broken to minister to the broken. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 says that God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. So here at Place of Rescue, we see another example of how the Lord does not forget the broken and the abandoned but how He is raising up wounded healers to minister to others who have walked a similar path. 

1 comment:

  1. In our ministry to our "weekday congregation" (as my pastor calls it) - the marginalized people who don't come to our worship services but come during the week for practical help and prayer - we also see broken family structures, that spirit of lust (I hadn't seen it quite that way before, but that is what it is) and dysfunctional choices. Short-term misguided thinking is pervasive. The book you recommended, Lisa, "When Helping Hurts," helped me understand the way poverty distorts people's thinking. I see more and more that it's only the Lord that can transform people's minds, hearts, characters. I had that passage in Galatians in my devotions today and was praying for you and all of us in this battle for perseverance. Thank God we do not fight in our own strength! The battle is the Lord's.