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.

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