Saturday, January 14, 2012

Whatever You Do For the Least of These

Here in Cambodia the passage from Matthew 25:35-40 is an ongoing theme.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ For every where one turns, you feel like you are seeing the least of these. You cannot go far without being confronted with the poverty and with the homeless in your midst. So often this can be wearying on the spirit as in some situations we know that parents often use their children to go out and beg. Often a young child will carry his/her baby sibling who looks totally drugged out (and probably is) so that the tourists would have pity and give. It is another form of exploitation but what to do? It is easy for our hearts to grow cold and become cynical. It is easy to turn the other way, it is easy to just ignore it all.  We don't want to create dependency by just keep giving handouts.

Yet there are some times, when God's compassion takes over and you feel compelled to respond. My Khmer brothers and sisters in Svay Pak continue to display a level of Christ compassion and a level of love and faith in Him that I hope one day I will have. They are teaching me what it means to love like God does, they are showing me what Christ compassion looks like, they are demonstrating time and time again that the marginalized and the outcasts are the least of these in which we see the face of Jesus.I love visiting Svay Pak and visiting my friends there. It is a place of hope for me, it is a place in which Jesus is at the centre. It is place where I come away encouraged because I often see God's beauty being formed in ashes.

Today was an example of these truths for me. My plan was to go and pick up a blouse I was having altered by one of Pastor Chantha's disciples Siny. But little did I know that the Lord had other plans for me in Svay Pak today. As I sat and chatted with Pastor Chantha and Siny, I learned of a 24 year old girl who has 2 little girls and a new born baby boy who is just 18 days old. This young woman used to work at the garment factory and when she was 5 months pregnant, her husband/boyfriend abandoned her and their two young daughters (a 5 year old and 2 year old). Well as time went on, this young woman ran out of money and found herself giving birth to her baby son a few weeks ago in some dirty bathroom. She was kicked out of the room she rented because she had no funds to pay for the rent and was walking in Phnom Penh when somehow, she found herself in a conversation with one of Pastor Chantha's church members----does this story sound familiar! It almost seems that the church members of Svay Pak are becoming God's angels that He places strategically in the path of the downtrodden.

Anyway, as the story goes, this young woman was brought to Svay Pak and one of the Svay Pak church members offered her and her children a temporary place to stay until Pastor Chantha figures out what to do. Well, he felt compelled to help this young woman (more on that later). So today, I had the wonderful privilege of going with Siny one of Pastor Chantha's disciples to visit this young woman and her 3 children. We went to see them at their temporary home----a home that already houses 4 people of one family, was now housing this young woman and her 3 children. Unlike homes in North America where you would expect separate rooms, the home where this young woman was staying was the equivalent of a shack.
The Temporary Home

The ''home'' is in an area where many of the brick factory workers stay which include some of the Svay Pak church members. Its here that 7 people were living in one big room!

The Two sisters in their temporary home
It was a great joy to use the Ratanak car to help transport this family from their temporary home to their new abode. There was not much to move because this mother has nothing except a bag of clothes. She has no clothes for the her baby son nor any food. She is totally destitute. So we did a mini pit stop in the local market and bought some clothes for her new born son.
18 day old baby boy who still has no name!

Two little sisters sitting in the Ratanak car

At one point as Siny and I were in the store, I looked up and couldn't help but take a photo of these two little sisters sitting in the Ratanak car. They had the biggest smiles on their faces as they waited for us. There is no greater pleasure than seeing these little ones smile. 

 Shopping for baby clothes
Baby clothes we purchased

We bought some baby clothes and I was asking Siny whether we should buy some baby diapers but here in Cambodia, diapers are use by the wealthy people because they are expensive.While it would be convenient for this young mum to have the diapers, I was grateful to learn from Siny that the average Khmer uses cloth napkins that can be reused and most of all they are cheap and affordable. 

At any rate, after our pit stop to the local market, off we went down some dirt roads and side alleys into a narrow road to the new home that would house this single parent family for the short term. Our partners at AIM have instructed Pastor Chantha to do what he thinks is best and so he arranged to rent a small room for this young woman and her child. It happens to be at the home of another Svay Pak church member. 
The new home

The room is another little shack but it is spacious enough to house this young family. I can't imagine what it is like to feel so displaced and to have nothing. And yet here once again, we see the soverignty of God intervening in another ''forgotten life'' by intersecting this young woman with one of Pastor Chantha's church members. As I left Svay Pak this afternoon, Bunthan had gone out again to the local market to buy some basic food supplies for the family and an old crib was found in one of the Sanctuary rooms along with some baby blankets...all of these were being sent to this mother for her children.

I am once again humbled by how freely my Khmer brothers and sisters give. They are living out the gospel in such a tangible way demonstrating that the Good News is not just words but includes deeds. God's heart is seen in their heart, God's love is seen in their love. God's compassion is seen in their compassion. They have so little, yet they give so much.

 Matthew 9:36 says: When he(Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. These past few months for this young woman has not been easy for her. She has lived a life where her spirit has been harassed because she has nothing, she has felt helpless because she has no where to turn. But the God of this universe has once again stooped down to show her that she can turn to Him because HE has turned to her. He has reached out to her through the hands, voice and feet of His people in Svay Pak. The Shepherd has gone after this sheep and her little lambs and brought them into His fold in Svay Pak. I can only imagine what He will do next in this young woman's life and her children! The Lord goes to great lengths to save and rescue. How much more will He not restore, rebuild and redeem their lives in the years to come!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Lisa this one made me cry. What a wonderful story of God's amazing love in action!!!What a Saviour we servce. I hope you'll keep us posted.
    Have been thinking of you and all your adjustments. We too adjust here in BC.
    We may be joining your denomination!Thought you might like to hear that. We shall see.