Sunday, August 18, 2013

The HIV Community & Poverty Like I've Never Seen I Before.

This is a picture of a community of believers in Cambodia that we had the privilege of worshipping with this past sabbath. This community is supported by ASAP Ministries.  They have recently suffered the loss of their leader who recently passed away. Most of the members that belong to this church, except for a few of the children, all have HIV. If you have been diagnosed with HIV in Cambodia you are usually outcast from society. So ASAP Ministries helps fund a personal place for them to congregate and for them to worship each sabbath. They have lost many members but God has kept a remnant alive. While I was praying for them God gave me a strong picture in my mind of a foundation beneath the ground. Nothing had been built above ground level - yet all of the bricks where beneath the surface of the ground forming a large box in the earth. I was impressed that God was saying that these people would make the foundation of a church that he would rebuild, let us as a church content for this promise. I had the opportunity to share a brief message from the Bible with them and Julia O'Carey, associate director at ASAP Ministries, also shared with them her powerful testimony. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

This woman sleeps outside one of the feed and read schools that ASAP works with and helps to support. Her story is very sad. Her son in law threw her out on the street when her daughter ran away and got remarried. She was raped several times her first night on the streets and became an outcast. She is currently homeless. It was hard to meet her like this. This is the kind of stuff that just makes me want Jesus to come back soon. Sin has done enough damage. Please pray for her.
Sri Noi

Make a Heart ! (Footage)

I met four beautiful girls from the Vietnamese school that ASAP Ministries helps to support. Na, Linh Houne and Hein all work as teachers during the day, split between two schools. They teach for a few hours at one location and then rush over to teach at another location. Then in the evening when they have finished with all their teaching and marking, they spend their spare time studying. These girls work hard. And each of the them possess remarkable stories as to how they came to work for and attend school with Mr/Pastor/Teacher Kahn. One of the girls was beaten so badly, her father would hang her upside down and abuse her. Another girl was sold away from her family, another homeless and still another abused, abandoned by family members and at risk of being trafficked. Stories like these are not uncommon.

The Vietnamese are among the worst treated people groups in Cambodia. They have no citizenship in Vietnam and therefore cannot return to their home country and they aren't warmly welcomed here in Cambodia. Politically right now in Cambodia, things are not good. There is a lot of unrest. Some nationals believe that there may be a great uprising in the next couple of weeks. If you are reading this blog please take a minute to pray for peace in Cambodia. The girls are getting ready to take their tests so that they can go to college for nursing. You can also intercede on their behalf for their success.

These girls are also super creative, they taught me how to make hearts out of fresh money bills. See footage below (and.... if you grab a bill from somewhere you can make a heart too....and send it in to support the project !)

Learning to be alone.

Being out here has taught me many valuable lessons, but I think the biggest lesson I am learning is how to be alone. Over the years I have grown so addicted to people. So much so, that It has become increasingly hard to be by myself, and this began to stunt my spiritual growth. I was restless during private worship, even if I wanted to tarry in God's presence I just couldn't wait to connect with this person or spend time with that person. And I realized that the reason why I couldn't be alone with God for too long was because I was scared to be alone with myself.

The world within can be a frightening one, and we often neglect addressing our shattered hopes, broken hearts, wounded childhoods and damaged emotions because we just can't handle the pain of facing it alone. But God is ever faithful, and to know Him is to be alone with Him. So alone with Him... that you realize that you are never alone.

Being out here in Cambodia, with everyone you love and care about thousands of miles away, leaves you with no one -  but God. It has been rough at times, but it has forced me to face hidden long suppressed issues that have gone unchecked for years. With no one to run to but God, I find myself going deeper in His Word and crying out to him more and more as my only Help - and in all actuality  even with all my friends and family He is still the only Help. I can't wait for the day that I choose to abide in God and I don't have to, like a horse who has to be bribed by bit and bridle, be coerced into spending time with Him because I have no other option.

Jesus says to me, and to all of us, "though your pain touch no responsive chord in any heart on earth, look unto Me and live." He is here with us, always, always, all the time. The Lord delays in responding to our prayers not because he is busy or angry but to teach us that prayer is no vain thing. It is not a futile exercise we engage in to gain some sort of heavenly merit. But we must learn to abide, learn to fall on our knees coming to Jesus - in the mess that we are in, with the feelings that we have - knowing that he cares and is near. Man.... Jesus is the best lover. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Found in a Garbage Can - Interview footage

They found Bora ( the handsome little boy in the picture) when he was only four days old in a garbage can behind a hospital in Pnom Penh. We had the privilege of meeting this family and hearing his incredible powerful story that remarkably resembles the one we see in Ezekiel 16.  See interview below.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brief Video Tutorial on Khmer Greeting

This dog is hilarious. Just thought I would share this.

Somaly Mam !!!

Today Julia and I had the wonderful privilege of going to AFESIP. AFESIP Cambodia is a non- governmental, non-partisan, non-profit and non-religious organization established in 1996. The dire situations of thousands of victims forced into sex slavery are the reason why AFESIP exists today. They are devoted to - "humanly correct development"- in order to fight against the trafficking of women and children for sex slavery. They have 3 major locations for their safe shelters: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kompong Cham. We visited the Phnom Penh location.

We spent a good amount of time interviewing Sao Chhoerurth, the executive director and CEO of AFESIP Cambodia. He was very helpful and shared some insightful information.

One of the things that I am learning here is how deeply the level of political corruption and commitment runs. I have  discovered something new happening in the city. There are now some farmers and agriculturalists, people who have no expertise or experience in the field of trafficking or psychology, have gotten involved in the arena of human sex trafficking and started up NGO's not to be a part of the solution in trafficking but for the purpose of receiving funding for personal vocational enterprises. This was shocking for me but definitely helped us to see how much we need people who are dedicated and committed to truly being a part of the solution.

I have also found that, although Southeast Asia is over saturated with NGO's, we are finding them to be less effective because they refuse to work together. There are somewhere between 2000 and 2500 NGO's that are here to help fight against the problem of human trafficking and none of them have been unified. NGO jealousy and competition is an interesting phenomenon. Please pray for unity in the body of Christ in Southeast Asia, as this is one of the Stoplight Project's main objectives.

After our interview with Sao, we asked if we could take a picture with him beside the photographs taken of Somaly Mam on the wall (photographs of her meeting with Jennifer Garner, Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton etc). He then mentioned to us that she was actually there at that location. When we realized that he was speaking about Somali Mam, both Julia and I were ecstatic and excited about the possibility of meeting this incredible woman. Check out and support . He then called her on his cell phone and she said we should come up. He took us her office where she invited us to come in and sit on her couch. Oh my goodness! At this point i'm just completely amazed that I have the honor and privilege to sit before this remarkable woman. She was so open and warm. She shared with us just how much of a work and commitment this type of work requires. People want to see success right away, she said that often times we don't see promise or results for years after rescuing girls. She said, "It takes 5 minutes to rescue a girl but after those 5 minutes you have about 5 years of work with them after."

At the end of my time with her I had the opportunity to ask her one final question. I knew the exact question I wanted to ask Somaly. It was the same one I asked myself after watching the documentary Half the Sky and the same one I asked Ravi Zaccharias after his talk on "What It Means to be Human" at Trinity last fall. And it was the same question that has been pushing me, persuading me and propelling me into the global combat against sex trafficking: "After all the women and children have gone through, starting at ages as young as 5 taking up to 30 male clients a day, how can they be survivors and conquerors of trafficking, abuse and sexual violence and no longer victims? How can they, who have been treated like objects for so long feel like human persons with a sense of the God given dignity within???" she said "Love them. Love them with your hands and your heart. Love them."

Jesus said "A new command I give to you, Love each other as I have loved you, so you must love one another"
John 13:34
Above all, Love each other, because Love covers a multitude of sins
1 Peter 4:8

Julia O'carey, The Associate Director of Adventist Southeast Asia Projects Ministries, My Boss and an excellent role model, wrote a little bit about her experience and I have included it below.

I read The Road of Lost Innocence on my flight over to Southeast Asia, the true story of Somaly Mam. It touched me deeply to read of Somaly Mam's courage through her painful childhood of abuse, violence and sex trafficking. I have true respect for how she proactively went about rescuing girls in Cambodia and rejoice over the success of the rescue centers that exist today, not only in Cambodia, but in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand as well. At the conclusion of her book I had a strong impression to pray for her and told the Lord how amazing it would be if someday Somaly Mam and her girls would encounter the Master Healer, the true source of Love. I had no idea in my wildest dreams that I would be able to meet her, being an internationally known person as she is. What a joy it was to get to visit with her today and see her passion first experience I'll never forget and I thank God for.


This is AMAZING.

What you see in the picture is the Bang Melea temple in the northeastern end of Siem Reap Cambodia. The temple was built in the Kingdom of Cambodia in the late 11th - first half of the 12th century. It's religious ancestry: the Brahamanic cult within Hinduism, main deity: Vishnu. Archaeologists assume that based on the 45 m wide moat that the temple was originally the center of a town or village. The temple is not often visited by tourists but it is quite large in size the outer enclosure of the temple is 181 m by 142m. 

Initially upon seeing the temple at a distance I assumed that it had been destroyed by invasion or by war. However as I got closer to the ruins themselves, I realised that this was not the case. Seyha, my local guide while in Siem Reap, told me that the temple didn't exist and stand for very long after it had been built. It may have only lasted for a century and then its worshippers had to vacate as the structure was seen to be unsafe. The walls, floors and columns started to crack and collapse. The temple began to fall apart because below the ground the roots of new trees started to grow beneath the temple's foundation. The roots of these trees wrapped themselves around the underground pillars and stones that kept the temple standing and began to shift its supports out of place. Bang Melea Temple, a temple erected to the deity Vishnu, was literally uprooted and destroyed by God's creation.

This taught me a valuable lesson.
God doesn't have to do much in order to destroy an idol. He doesn't have to send fire from heaven, he doesn't need to rain down brimstone, he doesn't need to send an army of soldiers to invade and destroy, it would seem that God's natural design, creation itself has an organic way of uprooting things that attempt to take away God's glory. The same goes for idols that we have in our own personal lives, God doesn't need to do much to destroy them, or bring them to ruin. idolatrous people, possessions, and positions all have a way of self destructing.