Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remember To Give Thanks

Everyday I write in my ''thank you'' journal something that I need to thank the Lord for; it is an intentional way of reminding myself of His faithfulness, His provision, His blessing as I journey with Him here in Cambodia. But that's a more personal way of thanking God and yet so often we forget to thank others who have helped us in our journeys.

It is easy in the midst of busy schedules to take for granted the work others have done to assist us on a variety of fronts. Representing Ratanak International here is a wonderful privilege as we have been blessed to work with many different partners on the ground over the years. So this past week, we decided to pay a personal visit to one of our partners --- Chab Dai. Our intention was to thank them personally for their support over this past year, to bring some goodies for them to share among the staff and to pray a blessing over their work.
Helen Sworn (2nd from left) with some of her staff
Helen Sworn, Chab Dai's Founding Director first came to Cambodia 12 years ago with her family. When I first met Helen in 2006, she was operating out of a small one room office with one other staff. Today, 6 years later, Chab Dai has grown in Cambodia (with approximately 30 staff) and is also operating in Canada and the U.S. God gave Helen a vision to form a coalition of Christian NGOs who would collaborate together here in Cambodia to end sexual abuse and trafficking in Cambodia. This is no easy feat to bring many organizations with different philosophies and strategies together under one umbrella especially here in Cambodia when NGOs are more apt to operate in their own little silos and do their own thing. But the mere fact that there are over 50 Christian NGOs who are now part of  the Chab Dai coalition is a testament to what is possible when God brings His people together for His purposes! Nothing is impossible with Him!
Yeng Ros - Chab Dai's Country Director (Cambodia)
While Ratanak has funded a prevention program run by Chab Dai since 2006, this past year we have been the recipient of blessing from Chab Dai staff who have helped us in a variety of areas---setting up bank accounts, processing our visas, walking us through the MOU process, going to government meetings with us,  giving us different policies relating to staffing issues and financial matters. They have modeled what they have preached---collaboration and partnership---and so our visit this past week to the Chab Dai office was a visit to thank Helen and her country director Yeng as well as their staff for the many ways they have partnered with us to facilitate the set up of our Operations here in Cambodia. Yeng in particular has at many times been an ongoing consultant for us, providing us with timely information and feedback and making himself available whenever we needed help. He is the epitome of one who models servant leadership with joy despite his heavy workload.  We are grateful to God for all those within Chab Dai who have supported us through their expertise.

But less I am remiss in acknowledging our other partners, one of the blessings of having different partners is the opportunity to receive support on various levels. No one partner can necessarily provide us with all the information we need for they each focus in different areas. So, we have had the opportunity to draw on a wealth of knowledge and experience and learn from them as we develop our own project. A case in point,  we are thankful for our partners at AIM who have been a wonderful support  providing us with many policies and procedures that we are using as an initial framework and guideline as we develop our own policies and documents for the RAP home. This has saved us considerable time if we were to re-invent these from scratch. As well our other partners such as Hagar and Daughters were able to provide us with salary information and job descriptions as part of our initial process of evaluating what is reasonable salary levels for staff working to assist trafficking survivors. We have taken some of our RAP staff to visit our partners aftercare shelters so that they could see how different organizations decorate their counselling rooms. We have discussed staff schedules and gotten input on all sorts of matters relating to setting up a community home.

In all of this, I am reminded of Psalm 133 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head,  that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion.And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting. Indeed where there is unity in the body of Christ, God pronounces a blessing! Pray that the Lord will continue to unite all the NGOs who work to restore broken lives in this land. Pray that as we each work together that we will be a reflection of the words in John 17:20-23 --- I pray that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one   I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Beautiful Sight

This morning I woke to an unexpected but beautiful sight. I heard a noise at the back of my apartment and peered out the window to discover a group of young people waiting to be baptized in a baptismal tank of a local church whose garden I see each  morning when I wake up from my room. I opened the door and heard them reciting a prayer in Khmer that Christ had cleansed their sins. They were now preparing to enter the waters of baptism.
There were about 50 to 60 young people, the majority young men who were getting baptized.Psalm 40: 2-5  says: He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth,  a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord  and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God,  are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

God has lifted each of them out of their own pit, a pit of darkness, a pit of mud and He is now setting their feet on Him---The Rock of Ages---the One who will never leave them nor forsake them. The One who is putting a new song in their mouth---a song of love, a song of hope, a song of joy. Pray that as they have publicly declared that Christ is Lord and Savior of their life today that they will be committed to walk in His ways and His purposes, putting their trust in Him and not on themselves nor their education. Pray that they will turn away from the false gods around them---there are many in this land as they are in North America---money, power and sex to name a few. Instead, may their lives glorify and honor the Lord as they become a blessing to their communities reflecting His heart in all they do.

 Here in Cambodia over 50% of the population is under the age of 25. This new generation that God is raising up in Cambodia is more educated than their parents having now had the opportunity to go onto university and having access to greater technology ---the cell phone and the laptop unlike their parents who grew up during the Khmer Rouge era and whose lives were marked so often with pain and suffering.

Yet as I looked at these young people, it was a reminder again that there is a fresh new remnant that the Lord is drawing to Himself. During the Pol Pot era over 90% of the church was wiped out but scenes like these remind me afresh that Jesus has the last word in this land. His kingdom is eternal and no darkness, no genocide, no war, nothing---can thwart His purposes. He will raise up new people, a people of His choosing who will reflect His values, His heart and His ways.

Pray for these young people and many of them across this nation who are becoming followers of Christ. This generation of young Christian Khmer deal with many pressures. Family obligations like in many other Asian cultures can weigh them down as they are expected to provide for their siblings or older relatives, many times at the expense of their own dreams and aspirations. At times, this can cause them to make decisions based on financial concerns rather than seeking direction from God. They are pressured to trust in their own provision than looking to the Lord who said that He will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches. In a country where poverty is the prevailing visible reality, it is understandable why it can be difficult to trust God to meet their needs. It is not easy to navigate such challenges as they seek to honor their parents and live for Christ. May the Lord continually give them wisdom on how best to live a life that is worthy of the calling He has given to them.

This young generation is also one that is dealing with secondary trauma. They may come from families who have not really dwelt with their own post traumatic stress disorder from the Khmer Rouge Era. These hidden traumas have a way of manifesting themselves in fragile emotions that can be so easily released in times of pressure and stress. Feelings such as anger, fear, mistrust, discouragement and hopelessness can rise up to the surface.  May our Lord who created this new generation in Cambodia for such a time as this strengthen these young believers in their inner being. May He enable them to bon guard; standing firm in their faith; being courageous; being strong and doing everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creating Policies -- Is This Ministry????

These past couple of weeks our staff have been working on several policies related to the RAP home. It is quite a painstaking process but we are thankful to our partners at AIM and Chab Dai who have provided us with documentation that gives us a good starting point. We are not into reinventing wheels when others have gone ahead of us. We are happy to leverage off of what our partners have done and learn from their experiences and so our staff along with our consultants have been helping us along the way, providing guidance and direction.

Nary, Malak and Lois discussing policy details
All our documents have to be done in both Khmer and English so today we began a review of all the policies we have created so far with two of our team leaders at the RAP Home---Nary our Operations Manager and Malak our Psychosocial Coordinator. Lois, one of the international workers who has lived in Cambodia for 3 years has worked with one of our partner organizations previously and also has a lot of experience in administration and personnel issues. She is volunteering her time mentoring and coaching our Operations manager and helping us in this process.

As we sat around discussing all these policies, we couldn't help but wonder if creating such policies is really ''ministry.'' So often when we think of the Christian term of ''doing ministry'', we think about outreaches, ministering to people in various ways, having bible studies, preaching or volunteering our time in discipling others. But indeed creating policies as mundane a process as this, is ministry. After all, it is being a good steward of both the resources and time the Lord has given us. Policy development, procedures and guidelines are not the most exciting things to do. In fact, if truth be told, they are boring to do but absolutely necessary to ensure certain standards are maintained.  D.L Moody once said ''there are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things." Preparing policies and going through the details to ensure that we have the proper guidelines and procedures are little things, yet they are essential ingredients that provide structure, shape and form to what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish. Our desire is that they ultimately promote healthy relationships, transparency, accountability, direction, instruction, clarity --- all of this provides a framework and backbone of the operational processes within the RAP home. It is the equivalent of building a firm foundation.  It may all sound clinical in nature but as Paul Tripp once said, ''if Christ does not reign over the mundane events in our lives, He does not reign at all and so throughout this process, we have been praying for the Lord to continue to direct us and give us wisdom in these mundane activities.
 For those of us who are used to working in the business world, we would call this policy development a form of risk management. We want to manage the risks before us by ensuring that we have considered different scenarios and possibilities and to provide guidelines that act as signposts which hopefully will minimize a reactive style management and create a more proactive style to minimize problems. Yet in all of this, we recognize that there are still gaps to fill, but this is really where faith comes in. It is a journey of faith to trust the Lord will fill in the gaps which we have not conceived.

In God's economy there is no division between the ''sacred'' and the ''secular''---for all we do is sacred when we are laboring for the Lord and so creating policies is just as sacred and valuable as other forms of activity!  For inherent in such policies, is a spirit of love that seeks to protect, care and encourage those whom God is entrusting into our care.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Attire for a meeting!

Yesterday Nary, our Operations manager at RAP and myself were invited to attend a government meeting held at the Ministry of Social Affairs office. The purpose of this meeting was to gather all the International NGOs  who are working with vulnerable people---whether it be children, trafficking survivors, old people or disable people as the government is looking to have a representative from one of the NGOs who would be a     key person to facilitate NGO discussions with the government. This apparently is the first time that such a meeting is being organized where NGOs would vote in a representative from an organization to be a voice for the vulnerable as they work with the government.

When one has to go to such meetings one of the important things to consider is what to wear. Cambodia is a more conservative nation and when I came here for the first time in 2000, one would never see young women or girls wearing shorts, or sleeveless tops in public areas. It was unacceptable and the mission organization I visited had a fairly strict policy on clothing attire. Today, some of those clothing rules are less strict but there is still a need to dress appropriately especially when one is attending meetings with government officials.
Waiting for the meeting to start!
So my teachers on Cambodian culture are my staff. I am always asking them questions on what is appropriate behavior---ie: how do I address different types of people and what is appropriate clothing attire to wear especially when I have to attend such events for this is all part of being culturally sensitive to ensure that I do not put my foot in the mouth.  So as I was preparing to attend this meeting, I asked Nary what I should wear. After all, I have gotten a few traditional Khmer long skirts and blouses made for such formal purposes. However, I was advised that since I do not look old and am technically not ''old'' (its nice to know that my staff think I'm young) --- I could actually wear a knee length skirt. However, the blouse I wear cannot be sleeveless nor have a sharp v-neck cut as that would not be professional!

So off we went to the meeting and another lesson on Cambodian etiquette and culture was on the way. All the female government staff who were older ie: perhaps 60 years and older were wearing the traditional Khmer long skirt and blouse and indeed the younger ones, were dressed like Nary and myself. As we sat down, I continued my observations and noted a lady coming in with a beautiful knee length sleeveless dress so I asked my Cambodian fashion consultant Nary what she thought. Her response, ''Bong (older sister), that style of dress is not appropriate for meetings like this as it does not convey respect." Even the shoes we wear can convey respect or disrespect. So in such meetings, no flip flops or casual shoes. One must wear more dressy or formal shoes. In some sense, I suppose this is no different than if we were going to a formal meeting in Canada, there is a need to dress professional.

In recent meetings, my presence has created a bit of a confusion as I seem to be looking more Khmer but my short hair indicates that I am a foreigner. Most Khmer females have long hair as this is a throw back from the Pol Pot period where women were forced to cut their hair under the Khmer Rouge. Yesterday, some of the government staff were asking my Operations Manager in Khmer where I was from. Of course, they just assumed that I could not speak nor understand Khmer so it was wonderful to respond to them in their language and see their surprise. Its such a blessing to be able to communicate in Khmer but this adds to the confusion since in their eyes, I could pass as a Khmer even though I am a foreigner. This element of surprise is a wonderful gift and it opens the door to some light hearted conversation and curiosity as to my cultural background.

Anyway, back to the meeting, 30 minutes in as we sat people watching in walked Somaly Mam. Many of you may have heard of Somaly, a survivor of sexual slavery who has written a book called Road of Lost Innocence which is biography of her story. Its a great read if you want to understand this issue from the mind of a Khmer survivor of trafficking. Somaly walked in with her entourage ---all of whom were dressed in traditional Khmer outfits. One could not help but notice her and her team as she sat in the front row. She is not a typical Khmer woman  but is more direct and was not afraid to share her opinions quite openly and freely  in one of the sub groups that we were directed to participate in. It was quite interesting to observe the interactions between a Khmer female who has reached such celebrity status internationally and her fellow Khmer brothers and sisters who smiled diplomatically as she shared her comments.

Many of these meetings provide an opportunity to network with folks from NGOs. We saw some familiar faces from our partner organization Chab Dai and other Khmer friends who I have met previously from IJM and other NGOs. At one point in our meeting, we had to vote who would be the NGO representative on behalf of those organizations working for trafficking survivors. One of the directors of an NGO that we recently have come to know encouraged us to put our name forward as a candidate but we politely declined. These are still early days for Ratanak Cambodia and we are still learning on a variety of levels. Thankfully, so many of us in this room are members of the Chab Dai Coalition and so when the time came to vote, it was unanimously decided and quite fitting that Chab Dai would represent the NGOs who work for trafficking survivors. It is great to see the influence and favor that God has given Chab Dai both with other organizations and with the government authorities.  But it also was a reminder of the importance of collaboration and the importance of being united as one voice in this fight against trafficking of persons. We look forward to many more meetings like this and the opportunity to connect with many others who are on the front lines here seeking to make a difference and give a voice to those whose voices have been silenced for many years!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pocket of Light In The Darkness

These past few weeks its been busy on so many different levels so it was nice today to just take it easy and relax. One of the ways I relax is to hang out with my Khmer friends as it provides an opportunity to keep practicing my Khmer. Today, my language teacher Rotha invited me to come and visit a kids club outreach that she and her husband Sinat (who is one of the lead teachers in the Svay Pak school) do every Saturday near their home.
Rotha explaining the game to the kids
As I think of Sinat and Rotha, I am reminded of another couple in Svay Pak ---Pastor Chantha and Bunthan! God is raising up His people in this land who are reaching out to the marginalized in their communities. In this poor area, the outdoor kids club organized by Rotha and Sinat is in a make shift play ground which is none other than an open area that many people pass by enroute to the factories nearby. The reality is there are very few places here in Phnom Penh for kids from poor neighborhoods to play. Yet here in this little area, God's light is shining bringing hope to the young generation who live in this community.

Today's kid's club was a small handful of kids. Normally they get about 60 kids in the afternoon but apparently the heat had deterred others from coming. I thought I was the only one who was melting in the heat! Both Sinat and Rotha have observed Pastor Chantha's disciples in Svay Pak and how they lead the kids club there so it was neat to see this training being multiplied in this outreach to the 30 kids that were attending today's events.

What I find most interesting is how the simplest games here can bring joy and laughter to kids who don't have much. I think our kids in the West with their electronic gadgets should learn a thing or two from the kids here. Today's equipment for the games were two plastic plates and cups. The object of this game was to get the stones that were in the plastic plates into a the cup. The team with the most stones in the cup wins! Not a complicated game but one that definitely brings out the competitive juices in even the smallest participants. But it also brings out a lot of joy and laughter. As the two groups of kids played, others came by looking on, a bit shy until Sinat coaxed them into joining the fun. Others preferred to stand on the sidelines watching all the activity.

Once the games were over it was time to sing a worship song and learn about Christ. Here in this open area where many people were walking by from the community, Sinat played a song on the guitar as the kids sat listening attentively.

I'm always amazed at how easy it is to gather kids here and how open they are to just sitting and listening to music. They are so receptive and open to anything new since there really isn't much in the way of entertainment for them to do in their homes. It had me thinking how easy it is too for predators to enter into communities and how easy their access is to kids like these. Yet, here once again, God is using His servants who are giving their time and their own resources to reach out to the kids in this community. It was encouraging to see kids learning about prayer and how to pray to Jesus!

These little spiritual seeds are being planted in the hearts of these young ones as they learn about the God who created heaven and earth and who created them. For Rotha and Sinat, this is a labor of love. They don't have much but they give of what they have for they too long to see a whole new generation worshipping the Lord. I can't help but be reminded of words Mother Teresa once said, ''We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." In the whole scheme of things, what they are doing is ''small'' but in God's economy, its never about size, its about heart, its about love! Jesus only needed 12 disciples to change the world, and for Rotha and Sinat, they are planting His seeds of love trusting that in God's time, these seeds will grow in good soil that will produce much fruit in the years to come. It is a journey of faith for the fruit is far away.  But they also  have a handful of young people that they too are training up to help in the ministry. One of them is my ex-language teacher Chheut who currently is teaching in the Svay Pak Community church but on the weekends he is here volunteering his time with some of Sinat's relatives.
Chheut my ex-language teacher

Other young girls who help Sinat and Rotha
 This kids club outreach is located in an area where there are lots of factories and therefore lots of girls who work in the factories and so besides the kids club, Sinat and Rotha have a church service in the area. Walking about in this area, it was another new experience observing some of the places where the girls who work at the factory live. These small rooms with no windows and very little ventilation house about 4 girls per room. The cost to live in such surroundings is about US$20 a month that is shared by those who live together. A girl who works at a factory could earn up to US$80 a month but she usually sends back the majority of that income back to her family in the province.

As one walks by each of these ''rooms'' there are numbers above them---I can't help but think of the numbers that I have seen in the brothel area of rooms that were used for other purposes. Yet here, there are over 2000 girls who live in this area and so Sinat and Rotha offer them English and computer classes at their center in the evenings during the weekday. On Sundays the girls are invited to attend their church service.

In this squalor, in these humble surroundings once again, I see a pocket of light, the Light of Christ shining in the darkness. .

For Sinat and Rotha, they are the beautiful feet bringing the good news to the children and a small handful of adults each Sunday. They are the aroma of Christ, seeking to spread His fragrance in a community that is literally trying to survive under some most difficult conditions. Poverty has a way of oppressing one's spirit but yet, Christ is here, lifting up those who are bowed down. He has chosen to move into this community through His faithful servants who are seeking to bring His light, His love and His hope to those who are in their sphere of influence.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Its Official!

Its official! After 10 months of paper work, meetings and consultations Ratanak International (Cambodia) has received both of its MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSAVY). We thank and praise God for the incredible favor He has given us and the amazing support we have received from our partner organization Chab Dai.
Signing MOU documents at the MoSAVY office

MoSAVY personnel helping to stamp the documents with the official Ratanak stamp
This afternoon, I had the privilege along with our Operations Manager Nary to sign eight copies of the official documents that gives us permission to now open the Ratanak Achievement Program (RAP) Community home.

Linking arms together in partnership
We are grateful for the support of MoSAVY and the speed in which they processed our documents over this past month. After all it was only 3 weeks ago they came to visit the RAP home to do a monitoring and evaluation of our project and to interview our Khmer staff. They were extremely encouraging and supportive of our efforts and promised they would complete all the paper work in a short time. Indeed they did so.
MoSAVY officials visiting the RAP home
We are also thankful to our partner organization Chab Dai and their support during this process. Yeng Ros, Chab Dai's country director has been walking with us through this process since we began all the paper work last October. In all of this, we thank the Lord for the many ways He has gone ahead of us to prepare the way and for our partners here in Cambodia who have been assisting us. It has been a journey of partnership right from the beginning as we seek to invest in the lives of many Cambodians.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Visiting Teams

These past two days we had the opportunity to chaperon 36 people from two churches and take them around to visit different projects that we have been involved with. Clearly this is not a normal size team and logistically shuttling this many people to different places can be quite challenging especially given our limited capacity at this moment, but we are thankful to those who came. One group has been planning and preparing for a year, learning and educating themselves about human trafficking, about Cambodia and also our work here in Cambodia. They spent time watching our documentary called 'Redemption'' and so it was so encouraging to meet this team and to learn how engaged they were in this issue and how attentive and sensitive they were to the environment we operate in.

Brian McConaghy briefing team members
 My colleague Brian McConaghy flew into host this visit and to provide the teams with info regarding a variety of issues which including: security matters, trafficking issues, project details. We first assembled the team at an upstairs open area in the hotel they were staying at and had them sign off on our confidentiality and Child protection policy agreements. Once that info was all completed it was off to visit one of our partner projects Daughters Cambodia.

With that many people on the team, it was a wonderful opportunity for them to shop at the Daughters store purchasing all sorts of gifts for their family members and friends back in Canada. Following that, it was back to the hotel for a short briefing meeting as we had made arrangements to take them to the brothel district outside of the city. We split up the teams into Group A and Group B and arranged for two vans to take the women and men to visit The Sanctuary and The Courtyard located in the brothel district. The vans arrived at different times so as not to overwhelm the staff who serve this community so tirelessly.
 I went with the first group of women who for months had been learning about different Ratanak funded projects and were quite thrilled to meet with Pastor Chantha. They asked him many questions and were engaged in the discussions as Pastor Chantha had also arranged for two of his female disciples Dary and Siny to share more about their work in this community.
The Tour Guides: Dary and Siny with some of the women
Watching both  Dary and Siny in action as they shared their hearts for this ministry in this brothel district was a fresh reminder of the fact that God is working in and through His people who live in this area. The team was so appreciated of having the opportunity to meet these young disciples that they decided to pray for them on the spot. Their praying hearts continued as we led them to the Courtyard where they stood in the open surroundings and prayed for Pastor Chantha and wife Bunthan and the ministry here in this brothel district.
Praying for Pastor Chantha and Bunthan
Soon as they were finished praying, they were back on the van to Phnom Penh, yet thankful for the privilege of visiting a place that they had heard about, seen on a documentary and had prayed about. As one of the team members said, ''it was surreal being here, this is holy ground, Jesus has moved in.' Within the next hour as this team left,  some of the men on the team arrived. They were quickly whisked up to the 3rd floor of the Sanctuary with Brian briefing them on certain matters and pastor Chantha sharing his experiences in this community.
Brian and Pastor Chantha debriefing the men
Following the tour of the building it was back into one of the rooms on the ground floor where the men offered up prayer for this ministry and those who work so tirelessly in this community to protect the kids.
We repeated this event two nights in a row and the second group of women were fortunate enough to do some ''shopping'' at our partner Agape's new training center located in this brothel district. They were so thrilled to buy different products made by girls who have now been integrated back into the community. It was an unexpected treat and they went home happy to have the opportunity to bless the young women who are now working in this training center.
Praying and Praising at the Courtyard
 Once again before they left the brothel district, the women formed a circle as they stood on the Courtyard. They have been following our progress on the purchase and clean up on this land and so as we stood outside with Bunthan (Pastor Chantha's wife), Siny and Dary, they spent time praying to the Lord asking Him to continue to show favor over those who serve in this village, to watch over them and protect them as they seek to be the watchman for the vulnerable in this community
At the end of the prayer time, they broke out into a worship song by Chris Tomlin called ''Our God''. How fitting the words of that song were as they praised the Lord for what He was and is doing in this community.

Water You turned into wine
Open the eyes of the blind
There's no one like You
None like You
Into the darkness You shining
Out of the ashes we rise
There's no one like You
None like You

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 

Into the darkness you shining
Out of the ashes we Rise
There's no One like You
None like You.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 
[ Lyrics from
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?

It is a blessing to have teams like this who come wanting to bless the staff who are working on the frontlines of these projects and who appreciate the sensitivities of the ministry that they are grateful for what little time they can spend with us to pray for us. We also took them to visit the RAP home in the morning and introduce them to our Khmer staff who acted as tour guides to show them around the inside of the home as they prayed over each room.

For me one of the highlights of this visit was seeing this team lay hands and pray over our Khmer staff. We are so thankful for all the prayers that have been poured out for our staff over the months by so many of you on the home side and having these other prayer warriors present was an encouraging reminder that prayer is foundational in all that we do for we know that apart from Christ we can do nothing! We are in need of His presence, His power, His wisdom and His strength as He prepares us all to serve the young women He is entrusting to our care!

The ''Team'' praying for our Khmer Staff!
We know that unless Christ is the center  of all we do, we can easily feel discouraged because of the visible reality and the darkness that so easily envelops many who work in this environment. Some of the female team members witnessed the darkness first hand when we were driving them through one of the local streets where the sex tourist hang out. Just a few feet away were 6 big Caucasian men sitting with a little girl who honestly was probably around 8 or 9 years old! While dealing with the shock of seeing this, they felt compelled to pray at that moment trusting that the Lord in His sovereignty would frustrate the plans of these men and somehow protect this little girl from any harm. It was this scene that gave them a fresh perspective of the tension that we who work here live with each day. The darkness is in our midst but we take heart in knowing that there is no place too dark that Christ's light cannot shine!