Yesterday morning I attended the Svay Pak church. Its been a few months since I've been to a service here and to my joy and amazement, I saw a whole new choir --- instead of the disciples that I knew, it was the youth group who were leading the congregation in worship. They all range in age from 13 to 16. They are the next generation of young people that pastor Chantha has been discipling and the older disciples are also mentoring these. It was such a wonderful sight to see.
One of the young people who has become a regular in this group was ''Theary''. I blogged about her last September in a blog titled: Not Forgotten. No longer is she out of place, she is in tune, in step with the dance moves and totally enjoying it all. As I watched her yesterday worshipping her Lord with her eyes closed oblivious to all around her, tears came to my eyes as I caught a glimpse of the banner that hung on the wall behind the group. It was a banner we at Ratanak had given the church here a couple years ago. It reads from Jeremiah 29:11 ''For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. How true are the words of this scripture for Theary's life. God found Theary and He brought her to Svay Pak, for His plan was to prosper her. She has been calling on Him ever since her arrival in September. She has discovered hope in Him, she has discovered peace from Him. Yesterday she was telling me how much she loves to worship the Lord and how much she loves to pray to Him. She is one who is earnestly seeking Him and while He found her first, she has been captured by His love. A while back Bunthan asked her if she wanted to get married. She smiled and said, ''maybe one day, but now I am so happy, I have a mother and father who love me (Chantha and Bunthan) and I have food to eat and I have a God who loves me and provides for me so I do not worry about my future.'' To say that Theary has found contentment in the Lord is an understatement. She exudes it for to know her is to see the gentleness and tenderness of Jesus. She is soft spoken, with a gentle smile and quiet spirit. Indeed, the Lord has good plans for her.
So too as I sat and watched my other young friend ''S'and her new husband ''H'' participate in a ring ceremony saying their vows to one another and lighting a unity candle. It was a touching moment to see ''H'' share that this was the first time he had been back to his homeland since he left in 1997. He was overwhelmed with emotion wiping away the tears as he shared how welcomed he felt and the kindness he received from the Svay Pak church family even though they did not know him. The love of Christ in and through this community continues to touch the stranger who visits this place.
As I saw and thought of this young couple again Jeremiah 29:11 came to my mind. For their marriage has many challenges ahead as he is an American Khmer living in the U.S. They will be together for 3 weeks before he heads back to the U.S in the hopes of one day sponsoring ''S'' over. We entrust them into God's care and hold on to the very truths of these verses in Jeremiah 29, that they will both intentionally seek Him and in so doing discover His plan for their lives together as a couple despite the distance.