This afternoon I spent the day with a team visiting from Canada. They have been involved in ministry with a Chinese church in Phnom Penh and have also supported our work in Cambodia. So today, I took four of their team members to the brothel district to visit The Sanctuary and to see the kids club etc. The place was humming with activity when we arrived around 2:30pm. Pastor Chantha and Bunthan came out to say hi in the midst of their busy schedule as they have been hosting a team from the US who is doing medical ministry in Svay Pak as well as helping out at the Kids Club.
We headed up to the third floor to see the kids club. The place was jammed pack with over 200 kids. There are many new faces that I haven't seen before but there are also familiar faces. One of them caught my eye---it was Theary---one of the newest disciples of Pastor Chantha. For those of you not familiar with Theary's story check out the blog comment called 'Not Forgotten'' on September 23, 2011. There was Theary up front on the platform as part of the team leading the kids in worship with a variety of worship actions. I couldn't help but smile and praised God for the new work He is doing in Theary's life. Later on, she was part of the crew that was serving the kids during the craft time. A few nights ago, Theary had come to visit me with some of the other disciples. That evening as we were walking along the busy streets near my home, I noticed she was singing a Khmer worship song and had this big smile on her face. So I said to her, ''you like to sing about Jesus?" She smiled and then proceeded to asked me if I loved Jesus and I said ''yes". I then asked her the same question and when she said ''yes, I love Jesus,' I asked her 'why?'' Her response was simple: ''because He has blessed me so much.'' This is a young woman who has only known Jesus just over a month ago and yet she is so filled with His love. She has tasted of the Lord and has discovered that He is good indeed. He truly continues to put a new song in her heart and each day she is just being saturated with His love as she serves Him. It is such a joy to watch God's beauty in Theary enfold as she walks with Him and discovers for herself that she has been fearfully and wonderfully made by Him.
But today I had another surprise from another little friend called Sparky. Sparky grew up in this brothel district but now lives at Newsong. You can read more about her story in the blog titled: A Little Friend Called Sparky. While she tells the teachers at Newsong that I am her mother, whenever I visit Newsong she always runs away and hides from me because she is so shy (such is the effect I have on her). So today while I was in the brothel district, who should I see but little Sparky sitting in the back of the Newsong van as they were about to leave to head home after the kids club. I quickly ran after the van and called out her name. There she was with her beautiful big smile and long hair looking towards me. I quickly said ''I'm so glad to see you finally.'' She smiled almost sheepishly. But it was her beautiful smile that was a gift to me this day as I thought of my other little friend ''Srey Neth" who is no longer here. This is the paradox of this ministry---one child safe, another child sold! But I'm thankful for the Lord for these brief opportunities to see my young friends. I am thankful for the privilege of seeing Him transform their sadness into joy. I am thankful that they not only can smile again but they are discovering the One who rejoices over them with singing, the One who has created them to worship Him. Indeed He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. (Psalm 113:7-8)