Monday, January 19, 2015

Cambodia - The Missionaries

Sherry Lile of WL, Cathy, Donna and Stephanie
 John 15:5 (NLT) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.  Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from me you can do nothing.

I love the missionaries.  Their passion ignites more passion.

It's quite a network here with everyone working their niche.  Sherry from WL, and Esther from World Hope, introduced us to many people doing God's work.  Some have been here less than 2 years, but most have lived in Cambodia on and off for many years.  They come back.  They have a heart for the people of Cambodia and their hearts are on fire for God.  Some raise their own support while others work for NGOs that pay a salary, but the work is the same.

Catherine, a Filipino trained as a preschool teacher, has a heart for children.  She impacts many Cambodian children by mentoring women who work with children.  Catherine pastors them in spiritual formation because when you love Jesus deeply, you love and serve others better too.  Her love and enthusiasm for God is infectious, despite recent personal tragedy.  She spoke this powerful idea:  many people search for God’s will for their lives, when really, we should search for God and in doing so, will know His will.

Esther Pastores from World Hope International
Chondra, a Cambodian/Canadian with a master’s degree in social work, is Director at Garden of Hope, a long term residential program focusing on exploited girls ages 6-18 with emotional problems.  She shared her reluctant return to Phnom Penh after a 2 year stint with Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Cambodia and some time back home in Canada.  God kept calling her back and while she obeyed reluctantly, she has grown both personally and professionally in her leadership role.  Her biggest challenges are dealing with corrupt government officials, working with the families of victims, and learning to let go of work without having a close friend or spouse with whom to vent.

Yan (pronounced Yen) – a young, bubbly Chinese woman is a long term volunteer at Garden of Hope.  She was recommended for Cambodia after a few Campus Crusades for Christ stints in other countries.  Yan has a recent degree in social work, but is teaching English at GoH while studying Khmer.  Donna and I had the privilege of praying over her because she admitted being lonely and feeling a little depressed.

Sheila, a Scot who is about 65, felt called to be a missionary as a teenager after hearing one speak at her church.  She started worshiping with a Chinese fellowship in Scotland and has done missionary work in Asia her whole life.

Lacey–an Austrailian social worker has worked 3 years at She Rescue Home, a residence for 24 girls ages 5-19, affiliated with Citipointe Church in Brisbane.  She’s in it for long haul.  Lacey lamented that gang rape is a rising trend, perpetuated by easy access to violent pornography.  To avoid discouragement, Lacey has learned to celebrate her small successes in bringing justice within Cambodia’s unjust system.

Sara– will return to the United States in March after 2 years as Field Director at Hope for Justice.  Their program works with up to 22 trafficking victims between the ages of 13 and 18.  Sara noted that the trafficked girls have layers upon layers of trauma because their abuse never begins with trafficking, but rather rape and/or incest.  Pursuing a conviction and telling her story is part of a victim’s healing process, however it is unfair that an abuser can question the victim directly in court and, often times, has paid off an entire village to testify against her.

Life as a missionary can be lonely and frustrating.  It’s easy to become desensitized hearing repeated stories of abuse.  One might be discouraged in the face of such huge evil and the lack of government support.  Far from home, close friendships are hard to maintain in the transient community.  Self care is essential. 

And yet, every single one of the women we met was exuberant.  Their passion was magnetic and inspiring.  They are doing hard work, yet they are filled with joy.  This can only be from remaining firmly connected to the strength and love of Jesus.   

Your prayers for these hard workers are always welcome!

No comments:

Post a Comment