Today was a good sabbath day. A day to just rest, a day to refrain from responding to work emails and a day to enjoy a time of fellowship. I heard a good reminder this morning at the ICA church as the speaker today, Rev. Bill Prevette was a former pastor of ICA. He spoke passionately about living in the midst of uncertainty, unpredictability and ambiguity. I enjoyed his stories of when he first arrived in Cambodia in the early 1990s. One apparently could buy AK47s and hand grenades at the Russian Market along with a basket of marijuana. Cambodia back then was the wild wild west where any thing goes.
As he said 'you can't be in this country and not be touched by the pain of Cambodia.' This is such a true statement and anyone you speak to who is serving here long term, has a similar sense of God's call on their life. We have all shed tears for Cambodia and its people. I recall on my first trip here in 2000, how I cried every day that I was here. We are broken by the things that break God's heart for this nation. Cambodia has a way of getting under one's skin. Just the other day after I had visited the Killing fields, my tutor asked what I thought about the Killing Fields and what happened there. Strangely enough as I responded to him in my limited Khmer, I found tears coming to my eyes. This country can shake you and make you into the person that God intends you to be as you follow His lead. I remain thankful to the Lord for those tears, for it is His heart of compassion for this nation that moves us all to be here.
But in this environment pastor Bill was reminding those of us of 'A' type personalities that Christianity is not about doing but about being in the presence of God. Jesus was never driven but He was at peace in doing the Father's will. We were encouraged to examine our own walk with the Lord and to be mindful that while passion is great, passion is about pursing the depths of God. It is not just about 'doing' for God. Ironically without using the words of 'soul care', pastor Bill was actually encouraging all of us who work here to not forget to care for our souls in this environment which has a habit of tearing us down spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically because of the visible brokenness that we encounter. But, we were also being challenged to embrace the pain, the shadow of our souls, for every one of us has brokenness and were encouraged to not run from it. God's grace is bigger than the brokenness we see externally and the brokenness we face internally. Out of such brokenness comes new life. I see it in the lives of the girls at the Newsong centre, I see it in the lives of the kids in Svay Pak and I am seeing it in my own life as the Lord rewires my own personality and align it more along His lines. I appreciate this message as it once again serves to remind me that God does not just see us as we are but sees the potential in each of us, in who we can become in Him.
Pastor Bill quoted an African proverb that said 'you westerners have your clocks, we Africans have the time.' This statement is so true for Cambodia as well. Here it is all about time and not working with a hurried spirit or an impulsive mindset. For those of us who are task oriented, it is a new way of thinking and cultivating the right rhythm with spiritual disciplines and learning to work, rest and play.
So today, after a few busy days of hosting donors, it was a time of sabbath rest, it was nice to not have an agenda and just hang out with friends at lunch and again at dinner. Tonight I was on the hunt again for some Korean Kalbi ---my favorite BBQ rib dish with my friends Anne and Priscilla. The company was great but unfortunately the beef on this side of the pond is not as tasty as I am used to enjoying so its back to the drawing board, waiting for the Lord to show me the right place to find some decent meat! :-)