This past week we continued our team training sessions with the morning sessions being a bit more serious as we did bible studies on each of Ratanak's core values. We had some wonderful discussions as we talked about what is love from both a human perspective and what is the agape love that Jesus talks about. We discussed what it means to have a servant heart and what it means to be people who are called by God, people who will live with integrity. It has been an incredible time of sharing as the Lord continues to open the hearts of our staff to share transparently about their feelings. For me, one of the most special times was when we asked each person what it was they would like prayer on. These brothers and sisters are so hungry to know God, to know His heart, to have more of His wisdom, His love, His power. It was a special time as tears were shed but these were not tears of sadness, but tears I believe that were prompted by the work of the Holy Spirit who was touching each of us in those deep areas of our spirits. It was deep speaking to deep and in many ways a very special time of bonding not just with each other but with Christ Himself. We formed a circle around each person as we prayed for them and laid hands on them. The circle in many ways represents God's love, it has no beginning and no ending because it is everlasting and unfailing. But the second dimension of the circle was to symbolize that just as God's love is with us, we too surround each other in a protective manner, watching over each other and covering each other's backs.
The afternoon sessions were much less intense as we went off to different organizations for different types of training. We had our staff work through some personality tests. In previous years, as I have led short term teams to Cambodia, we have used these tests to help us understand each other's personalities. We have found it minimizes conflict and provides a way to understand each other. While we don't want to box people in, we have found that these kind of personality tests provide a good indicator of how people function the best, how they are most motivated and what are their stress factors, what are their areas of vulnerabilities. In understanding these indicators, it provides a way to encourage and support an individual especially if they are dealing with a lot of stress in their job.
But as part of the team building exercises we also wanted to have some fun on how to work together. And so off we went to another organization's office and the team played with sticks. The object was to pass the sticks around to the person next to you without dropping it. It was a game full of laughter but the lesson was all about focusing, timing and communicating.
While there were several team building exercises that the team participated in over this short period of time, we are already seeing glimpses of benefits from these efforts. Specifically, it was touching to hear some of our Khmer staff openly express to each other how much they love their co-worker and the reasons why. This is not common in Khmer culture to express such emotions in public and while these are early days in the process, we are thankful to God that He is creating such a climate of love and bonding between our staff. He certainly is knitting all our hearts together in a very special way.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. This is the agape love we are praying for our staff here in Cambodia. This is the love they themselves are asking for more of. This is His love that will sustain us through the challenging times because ultimately we believe that loving with God's heart will never fail even if we do not always see the visible fruits of our effort!