Saturday, June 15, 2013

Reflecting Back on God's Faithfulness

So often in our journeys it is easy to focus on the here and now and not reflect back on all that has happened. Like the Israelites in the wilderness it is easy to look at our present circumstances and whine and complain but today, I've been thinking of and reflecting on the faithfulness of God as I think of some of our Ratanak volunteers who today Toronto time will be involved in a 5km walkathon fundraiser for us. This family Walkathon  was the vision of one of our Ratanak volunteers Larry Dearlove. As I think of Larry he probably will be quite embarrassed to read this blog but he is an example of many volunteers that we have on the homeside who work so tirelessly to mobilize others to get involved in investing in the lives of survivors of sexual exploitation in Cambodia.

You see Larry is just a normal guy like any of us. But he like many of our other volunteers, have an extraordinary heart for the purposes of God. He has a 9 to 5 job so to speak, a family man with two young daughters and a beautiful wife. Seven years ago at my home church in Toronto, I had the privilege of sharing about the whole issue of sex trafficking for an extended period of time in one of our church services. Larry ''happen'' to be sitting in the service and was moved by what he heard that he decided to do something about it. That afternoon I got a phone call from him thanking me for sharing but then asking me for my home address as he had a letter to send me. Of course, I'm always paranoid about people asking for my home address---perhaps a stalker I thought, one never knows but he seemed sincere enough and so I gave him my address. A few days later a long hand written letter arrived in my mail box. It was from Larry sharing how broken he was by what he heard and wanting to know what he could do.

During those early years as a Ratanak volunteer myself, we had a prayer meeting that would meet at my house to pray for our projects in Cambodia and especially our partners who were working directly with young women who were trafficking survivors. Larry joined that group and from time to time, he would write reflections that were inspired by God as he thought of the young girls being repeatedly abused. He is the only man I know that cries every time he shares. For him, this issue became personal as he reflected on the fact that he had two daughters about the same age of some of the young girls we had shared stories on. As time went by the prayer group expanded into an awareness group, a core group of individuals from different churches who had a heart for justice and who simply wanted to speak up and do something about the injustice they had heard in Cambodia! Many of them like Larry, have never been to Cambodia, have never seen up close the very children and young women they advocate for. They have been patient with us as we seek to develop a proper curriculum and a training program that engages short termers in these issues that does not negatively impact our programs here and yet inspires them to take action at home. Yet they are committed to fight for justice because they are committed to the things that are on the heart of God.

For Larry, just being part of this group was not enough. For him, he wanted to do more so he prayed and God began to speak to him about training to run a marathon. Now Larry is not some twenty something young guy, but his passion and commitment to being a voice and investing in the lives of these young women propelled him forward. He began to run several marathons and a two years ago qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon. As a forty something man, his time at the Boston Marathon was 3 hrs and 25 mins. Every year he has been running marathons and next year he will most likely run in the Boston marathon again. It is incredible to see what God can do with one person who has a willing heart and is willing to offer their lives for His purposes.

In another few hours, Larry and several others who volunteer for Ratanak will be hosting and coordinating the second annual 5km Family walkathon to raise funds for Ratanak. Last year $5,000 was raised as of the current numbers they have now raised over $10,000 for this year. But the issue here is not about the money raised but about God's faithfulness to each of us as we step up to the plate and no longer become spectators in God's Great Commission but we become active participants.   Larry has used his gifts and talents and has sacrificed physically for young women whom he has never seen, yet His heart and passion for them like many others, has never wavered. When I think of Larry and the many others who are volunteering their time and energy to make these events happen, I am encouraged by their faithfulness and God's faithfulness to them. Psalm 18:25, 28-29 says To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pureYou, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.With your help I can advance against a troopwith my God I can scale a wall. He is the One that continually fuels the hearts of our volunteers even though they like Abraham have never been to the promised land. But they remain faithful and fully convinced that God will do as He has promised. 

They who volunteer back in Canada, U.S, U.K, Australia  are not doing it for their own glory, but they have found a bigger purpose in life, they like us who work on the frontlines, want to see God's name be glorified in the lives of the young women we are called to serve. They are not just passionate for passion alone is simply not sufficient; it must be consistently paired with wisdom. Zeal without knowledge can be a destructive force. A compassionate impulse may indeed be God's nudging, and certainly should not be ignored. But the hard work of education, preparation, and planning most always stands between us and a job well done. They have taken the time to learn and educate themselves about the issues in Cambodia, they have prayed endless hours for us and the young women at RAP and many of our other projects. They have fueled their passion through education, by reading and learning all about the issues we deal with. They have fueled their passion by actively using their gifts and talents for the good of the young women and the glory of God as they fundraise on our behalf. They have fueled their passion by the endless and tireless efforts to mobilize others to respond to God's heart for justice. 

And so this day as we are in the midst of the rainy season here in Cambodia, they are busy preparing for the 5km Walkathon. It is their hard work, their continual prayers, their words of encouragement,  their sacrificial efforts that encourages me. For they are running the race that has been set before them and so too, inspire me to run the race that God has set before me. Mother Teresa once said, ''all we do is a drop in the ocean but if we didn't do it there would be one drop less.'' Today I give thanks to the faithfulness of God and to the faithfulness of our Ratanak volunteers who are offering their one drops and as they do, the accumulated effort of their continuous obedience is paving the way for lives to be transformed in Cambodia as we step out in faith believing that the One Who calls us is faithful and He will do it (1 Thess 5:24)


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  2. "You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop, with my God I can scale a wall."

    I want to read this truth over and over - soak it in. This is the truth we pray, this is the faithful God we depend on.

    Linda Ruth