Today was the day I was so very much looking forward to since this trip became a reality. It is the day we spent with our partners from Hagar – an organisation who, to quote the words of staff, deal with the things in the too difficult basket. That resonates with everything I am and everything we strive to be as an organisation. When this journey began just over 3 years ago I was warned to stay away from working with sexually exploited in Cambodia as ‘it is too difficult and too dangerous’. How far away from the truth can that be. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it dangerous? Sometimes yes. Is it impossible – with God absolutely not. In him can be found all hope and through him full restoration can be found and through him all things are possible.
After a day out we freshened up before a tuk tuk drive through a totally gridlocked Phnom Penh to the mall and Lucky Burger. I would like to describe this as rush hour though we were rushing nowhere!! I was so excited for this moment. Here we met up with some Hagar staff and 10 girls from 2 foster care homes funded by Ratanak International – 1 from the UK and 1 from Canada. We sat amongst the girls and chatted about family and what brought us to Cambodia like old friends as we shared a meal together. These kids have suffered abuse on a scale that a normal human being cannot and should not be able to conceive. That humanity would stoop so low to exploit a child to such an extent is beyond my levels of comprehension.
After eating it is time for gifts with Liz and Susan handing out bracelets, toiletries and hair bands. Girls chatter comparing their new gifts with beaming faces. I reached into a bag I brought over and took out a bunch of Ratanak teddy bears. The gasp is audible and as each bear is received it is hugged and held onto tightly before being decorated with the bands and bracelets then hugged a little more. A little 8 year old girl then leans over and asks my name before naming her teddy after me. After ice cream and more conversation it is time to say farewell and head off. At the bottom of a set of steps the same 8 year old wanders over and asks her mentor how to say some words to me in English. I kneel on the pavement as she look into my eyes and says, ‘Thank you, I will never forget you’.
Tonight, once again, my heart aches but this time it is with the joy of seeing young lives rescued and restored. I am now beginning to understand with a little more clarity what it means to be in awe of God as I witness his hand at work in the lives of these children. Moreover, I appreciate more fully that we serve a mighty, mighty God who is able to do everything we can ask or imagine – and often more than we dare imagine.
Please pray for the Hagar staff who work with these and many more children and who listen to the terrible stories many times. Pray for strength and wisdom for them and that they will experience more of God at work through them. Pray also for the team of Liz, Susan, Tim & Debs from the UK, Brian & Melissa from Canada, Brian & Jason from Australia and Lisa who now lives here together with all those around the world that volunteer their help with us. Thank you.