Marie Ens introducing Sopheap
But before they danced, one young woman Sopheap who is 17 years old shared her testimony with such poise in perfect English and without looking at her notes. She is an AIDS orphan who has grown up at Rescue and she is hoping in the future to become a doctor so that she can come back to work at Rescue and help those who are living there in addition to other people in Cambodia. At this young age, Sopheap is already understanding the fact that we are all blessed to be a blessing and that whatever gifts or talents the Lord has given us, it is for the purpose of building His kingdom.
Following her testimony, 5 young women performed a traditional Cambodian worship dance. In watching these young women, I am struck again at the beauty, grace and elegance of Cambodian dancing. There is such a reverence to the dance. The girls look like royalty, like princesses in their traditional Cambodian attire and in a sense they are princesses of the most High God. What a blessing it was to watch this dance which conveys the beauty of Cambodian culture. But more importantly, what a blessing to see these young women, who themselves have come from very difficult backgrounds, some were living on the street with their parents before they came to Rescue. All of them having to face death of parents from AIDS at young ages. Yet through this all, God indeed has brought them through all that pain and suffering and is turning their mourning into dancing, He is giving hope to the hopeless and putting a new song and a dance in each of them.
Video of the Cambodian dance
I am once again inspired and in awe of the work the Lord is doing through Place of Rescue and ultimately through Marie's obedience in following through on the vision that the Lord laid on her heart many years ago. These young people are the future of Cambodia and I can't help but wonder where would they have been if Marie had listened to all the 'naysayers' that had told her to 'retire in Canada' some years ago. Thankfully, she chose to listen to the voice of God and today she is reaping all the years that she has sown in Cambodia as she invests in this next generation of Cambodians.
Erwin McManus once said that Legacy is not so much about what you are remembered for but think of it in the context of the momentum of your life, your choices, actions, decisions---all of these will impact other people either for good or for bad. In a sense, we become instruments of momentum in which other people can be affected by us and shaped by our lives. Marie's life is an example to us all of one who epitomizes what legacy looks like in the 'flesh.' Her life is a reflection of choices, actions and decisions that are impacting and affecting the lives of many young people in Cambodian through her ministry at Place of Rescue.
And as I think of the young women who are part of this dance troupe and many of the other kids living at Rescue, it is the words from Isaiah that come to my mind not just for them but the very kids that the Lord has laid on my heart in Svay Pak and beyond. In His time as He lifts them out of the ashes and leads them to places of refuge to restore them, He says to them: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. They are the shoot I have planted,the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah, for the LORD will take delight in you,
Indeed God is bestowing beauty for ashes and a garment of praise for the spirit of despair in each of these young lives because He delights in them. In each of these young women, we see God's power at work to transform, to rebuild, to restore and to redeem any life regardless of the circumstances they have endured. These young women are a living testimony that the Gospel can do so much more than we can ever ask or imagine. These young women are a living testimony that when we seek justice on behalf of the poor and the oppressed, the Lord we serve is faithful in bringing resurrected life and hope into lives that the world often ignores and mistreats. These young women are a living testimony of how God reflects His beauty through brokenness. As you think of them, pray for their two week journey to Canada, Marie commented it will be quite a culture shock for them, they have never left Cambodia and have never flown in an airplane. Not to mention the cold temperatures in Canada. Here in Cambodia, 24 degrees is cold for them.