In a few short weeks, a team of women will travel to Cambodia to work in several of the schools and minister to the children. One of those women, Lois, shares her thoughts about the trip and the obstacles they may face as they try to love on these kids and their families.
"To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss."
After coming to power at the end of a 5-year civil war between 1970-1975, this was the message of the Khmer Rouge regime to the people of Cambodia as they ruled from 1975 to 1979.
I was five years old in 1975, and in a few weeks I will be crossing the Pacific Ocean to meet men and women my age who heard this message repeated during some of the most formative years of their lives. Many, torn from their parents, were indoctrinated with this message.
What is it like for them to consider the truth of a loving, caring God who considers Himself their Father?
I will also meet men and women who were approaching adulthood during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. They will no doubt remember the forced relocation of millions from cities to farmland as the new regime enforced radical social change upon its people in an attempt to create a utopian communist farming society. It was only 20 years ago they came out from under the oppression of communism.
Is the concept of spiritual freedom as foreign to them today as the idea of political freedom was nearly 20 years ago?
I will also meet a few who survived the genocidal slaughter that took place on what is known today as the killing fields of Cambodia. They will soberly remember friends and family who were among the estimated 1.5 to 3 million executed by the regime for their religious, educational, racial and political identities.
What is it like for them to consider the reality of Christ's salvation and acceptance of them when they've lived through such suffering?
As I digest what I’ve learned of Cambodian history, I’m left wondering. Why didn’t I learn about this in school? Millions of people slaughtered? That should’ve been emphasized in my history classes.
My children will know about the Cambodian holocaust.
How do I relate to people from a culture and experience so different from my own? Even as I type that out, I’m reminded we all share the need to love and be loved, to be seen and known, to belong.
I don’t know what this trip holds, and right now I have more questions than insights, but when it’s all said and done, I hope to impress upon the hearts of these precious people a very different message:
To love you is to benefit. To restore you is worth the cost.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'
"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'"