A few days ago my colleague Brian McConaghy posted on our Facebook page asking for prayer for a young woman called ''H'' whose house was surrounded by a gang that were threatening her family. Her sister was in a relationship with the gang leader and he recently attacked H’s sister with a knife but she managed to escape home with serious injuries to her hand and leg. Prayers went forth for this young woman and her family that God would surround their home with angels and protect them because we all ultimately believed that the God we serve is far more powerful than these gangs.
Yesterday we heard that the gang were lighting petrol bombs to throw on her family's small home. This is just another example of the level of violence that exists in some neighborhoods in this place. While the police were notified, the reality is they would not go unless the family paid them money. Yet in spite of this, we witness nothing short of a miracle when we heard that in the nick of time the whole village came together against the gang and demanded they leave! The irony in all of this is that this community has looked down on H's family because they know she was rescued from sex work. In fact, they were known to say condescending and demeaning things to her. So the fact that they actually came together to stand against this gang is nothing short of a miracle! How does one explain such unity of heart in the midst of such a volatile situation in such a short space of time? The answer for those of us who serve in this ministry, is GOD! There is no other who can work in peoples hearts and cause such a radical change in an entire community? Perhaps the people in this village were concerned that if those petrol bombs got released their homes would go up in smoke as well. Nevertheless, God can bring together the most unusual alliances to achieve His purposes. The bible reminds us time and time again that His plans will prevail and His purposes will not be thwarted.
As I have been reflecting on this situation, I am once again reminded that ministering to former victims of sex trafficking has its challenges on many levels. We are not just ministering to the young women themselves but to their extended families. Asian culture after all is built on communities and tightly knit families where decisions are often based on what is best for the group. Individual rights are often non-existent. Here in Cambodia, the poor like in many other countries are marginalized and those who have been trafficked are treated as if they are sub-human. Yet in God's economy, the weak have a special place in the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12, the bible talks about us each being parts of Christ body. Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. As I think of my ''sister in Christ--- ''H'' I am reminded that we are called to share in her suffering, we are called to stand in the gap for her and her family and many for who she/they represent. In so doing, we are conferring God's honor, dignity, hope and love to her. We are saying to her that her life does matter that we will walk with her through her valley of death and through her mountain top experiences because like Christ, we believe she is a treasure of immeasurable worth!
In the bigger picture, this ministry will ask everything of you---it can be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining because we become exposed to a level of darkness that so often stretches our understanding of evil. We are exposed to hostilities, hatred and violence that is so deep. Yet, we are called to persevere especially at times when you may feel you are like a 'doctor on call', 24/7'' for on the one hand we see a depth of human depravity that boggles the mind and then on the flipside, we see our God manifesting His power in the most unusual and incredible ways. It is celebrating these ''victories in Christ'' that strengthens our resolve to press on, knowing that the God we serve and the promises that He gives us stand firm forever. 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor 1:20-22) It is stories such as that of ''H''s recent situation that demonstrate the power of God to deliver with such a dramatic intervention using her community to be His angels. It is He who has set His seal of ownership on ''H'' as He has on us. What a privilege it is that we have to see our Lord reveal Himself to us and to these young women in ways that we could never ask or imagine. What a privilege it is to be part of the body of Christ, sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings as we walk with those who suffer!