Monday, February 11, 2013

Chinese New Year In Svay Pak

Yesterday was the official New Year for both the Chinese and Vietnamese lunar calendar. While it is not an official holiday it is widely celebrated in Cambodia and many shops were closed in Phnom Penh. In Svay Pak, many Vietnamese families were celebrating the Vietnamese equivalent known as Tet for the New Year. But it was a busy time, every where I walked in Svay Pak, Vietnamese families had gathered together drinking, gambling,  and playing cards. Pastor Chantha and I were walking around and he stopped to talk to this ''old granny'' who was in a drunken stupor but who was happy to chat with me.

She was offering me the ├íng pow'' or red money packet which is usually given to single people during the new year festivities.  So I initially took it and then told her I would pray for her on the spot.  I remembered her from 3 years ago when she had come to the medical clinic in The Sanctuary. She was a trafficker and had wanted to have medicine for herself but we knew it was for the ''young women'' she was trafficking. At that time I had prayed for her and once again our paths had crossed so I told her I would pray a blessing over her. So I did, I prayed that Jesus would draw her closer to Him into a deep and personal relationship and she would know the truth that would set her free. I prayed that He would convict her of any activities she was doing and frustrate any plans to hurt others. When I finished praying, she insisted I take a photo of her and I gladly cooperated. To look at this frail old granny, one would think she could hardly harm a fly but I couldn't help but think about the many little ones whom she had made a profit from. In this village, the ties to sex trafficking run deep as all generations and relatives from grandmothers, to mothers, to daughters, sisters and cousins can be involved in this illicit trade to sell the young girls in their families.

Korean Pedophile chatting with some local Vietnanese
Pastor Chantha had mentioned that this weekend was busy as many boratey (foreigners) were in town looking to buy kids. In the brief time that I was visiting, I saw three foreign pedophiles. One of them was a familiar face that Pastor Chantha had seen a few times already this past weekend. Just a day ago this Korean pedophile had come to negotiate to buy a little girl for $100 but the traffickers had refused. Nonetheless, he was not deterred, he was back in the village and we happened to see him as I was being shown one of the newest ''holding pens''---a house where several little girls were hanging out on the steps in front of the home. Several of them were all dressed up looking like they were ready to go to a party. Once again, I was face to face with the reality of this horrific trade of innocents. These little five or six year olds were being prepared to be auctioned off.

Shortly thereafter, I was sitting around at the local coffee shop opposite Rahab's House having some Vietnamese coffee when a beautiful little girl probably around 7 or 8 years old came up to me. She was wearing a pink colored shiny satin dress with eye liner and a light eye shadow and a handbag over her shoulder. I was told that she was adopted by some traffickers. I can only imagine what her life must be like and what she must be thinking on this new year's day ---a day when people should be celebrating with family, she was being prepped to be sold.

Not long after that scene I went to see Pastor Chantha's disciples play some volleyball. They have been doing this daily as part of their exercise and fun. Once again I came across two little sisters all decked off in matching yellow dresses. They attend the Svay Pak school but this day, they were off heading to the adult world of sexual perversion. I asked them if I could take a photo of them and they quickly responded with a ''no.'' That response in itself was interesting as many kids love when one wants to take a photo of them, but not these two. Perhaps they had seen enough of such photo taking that exploited them.

These grim encounters are a reminder that trafficking of minors continues in this place and on such special occasions, the demand for them is even higher. Yet in the midst of such darkness, God once again shows me a pocket of light as I meet two dear little sisters that I have known since 2009.  ''SN" and her sister ''C'' who now attend the school in The Sanctuary come by to say ''hi''. They are a living testimony of the power of prayer for many years ago they too were trafficked by their parents who own a brothel. But in the summer of 2009, I along with many of our intercessors in Canada had the privilege of interceding for these two little ones. God in His sovereignty responded resoundingly and since then, their grandmother who attends the Svay Pak church has been their guardian angel protecting them from those who would abuse them and from their parents who would willingly sell them on a regular basis. In seeing SN and C, it is the verses from Galatians 6:9 that come to mind:  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Despite the ongoing darkness that is so ''in your face'' in this village, my two little friends serve to encourage me, to keep fighting, to keep running the race, to keep persevering and pressing on, for as we do, we will have the privilege of seeing many lives that were once crushed and broken, be set free from the chains of oppression.

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