Siny, Joshua, David and Rebecca
As you think of the kids in Cambodia, do pray for the three kids of Pastor Chantha and Bunthan. They are growing up in a village where many kids do not have the privilege of experiencing God's love like they do. David is the only biological son. He is going through his terrible 2s and also does not like to eat much. But he has the most adorable face. He is a very sensitive child who cries easily if his mum or dad are not around when he wakes up. Last July 2010, Joshua was born to a prostitute who did not want him and so Pastor Chantha and Bunthan adopted him. He is almost the same size as David even though they are a year apart but he is one of the happiest kids, always smiling and full of joy. He also happens to be one of the chubbiest kids because he loves to eat. I think there is a correlation between a 'happy kid' and a kid who loves to eat...he definitely is a contented child and ironically looks like Bunthan while David looks like Pastor Chantha. Then there is Rebecca, who is 6 years old. She is very shy and only talks to the Khmer students. She is one tough cookie and is like a little Bunthan. She is very determined and is no push over, directing her two brothers who love playing with her. Rebecca was adopted earlier this year as her biological mother also did not want her. The last couple of nights, Rebecca stayed in my room along with Siny (one of Pastor Chantha's disciples) when we were in Sihanoukville. Yesterday and today, Siny spent time praying with Rebecca in the morning as they lay in bed. You could hear a pin drop as Rebecca listened attentively. It is neat to see how Chantha's disciples treat these children with such love and care. They happily babysit them and are so attentive to their needs but most of all, they are sowing and planting God's seeds in these kids lives as they play and pray with them, while trusting the Lord to water and grow those seeds, so that these kids will one day be a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.
Then there are two little sisters that were hanging out at a family shop in the local market. We were waiting to take away our cooked food and as the bags were being passed to a few of us, these two little sisters offered to help to carry the bags. They were not that much older than perhaps 9 and 7 years old and yet here they were insisting to each carry a bag of food back to our bus. While I said 'no' given that the bags seem heavy for them to carry, one of Chantha's disciples happily gave their bag of food to the kids and they were quite happy to walk with it. As I saw these two kids reacting in such a joyful way, I couldn't help but think how different Cambodian kids are than our kids in North America. Culturally, the kids here are taught to respect their elders but they display a servant heart, willingly doing anything without a moan or groan. In fact, they seem to take great pleasure in wanting to help. This is not something that I see often in kids from the West who grow up in a more individualistic society and tend to be more pampered and are served by their parents. Their focus is often on what they need and want because of the self indulgence atmosphere and materialistic environment they grow up in.
But here in Cambodia, kids do not have much, but yet in this nation where the family structure is often fragile because of domestic violence, gambling and alcoholism, these kids seem to have an inherent understanding of serving others despite their small stature and the dysfunctional family environment. They are not only respectful of older people but certainly, they seem to grow up much quicker than their North American counterparts as they are given domestic chores and responsibilities at a far younger age. Poverty has a way of maturing kids in a way that wealth does not. Poverty has a way of teaching kids about self sacrifice and servant hood, in a way that wealth does not.
Then there are kids like the ones above who live in the brothel district. On days like today where it is raining, they have fun playing in the slush and muddy conditions. They do not have ipods, electronic toys or computer games, they do not care about the dirt, they just want to have fun and for these kids, having fun is something that is often elusive since they are in an environment where their peers are being sold.
Yet as I think of each of these little children, I am reminded of Psalm 8:1-2 which says: LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. 2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. John Piper writes: Everywhere everything depends absolutely on God. He has no viable competitors anywhere. He is above all things everywhere. He sustains all things everywhere. He is the ground and goal of all things everywhere. He is greater and wiser and more beautiful and wonderful than everything everywhere. “O Yahweh, our Lord (our Master, our King, our Ruler), how majestic is your name in all the earth.” The aim is that we stand in awe of him and worship.But in verse 2, we see babies. And the contrast is stark. Babies are weak; they seem to have no wisdom or knowledge. They are utterly dependent on others. They are insignificant in the world’s eyes.So why are they here? What are they doing? Well, it’s clear what they are doing: They are defeating the enemies of God. They are opening their mouths and saying or crying something. And whatever they are saying or crying is powerful enough to still the enemy and the avenger: “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you [God] have established strength.” God is making what comes out of their mouths strong. Whatever it is that is coming out of their mouths, it is subduing the enemies of God.So there it is. The peculiar mark of God’s majesty is not just that he stoops to listen to or take thought of or care for infants, but that he makes them the means of his triumphs. God conquers his foes through the weaknesses of the weak—the speech of babies. When you think of God as a warrior, remember: He wins with weakness.
No wonder the enemy seeks to destroy the lives of these little ones for their vulnerability, their defenselessness and their innocence are the very marks of weakness the Lord uses to ordain praise and defeat those who oppose Him.