14 days spending in Cambodia was not a long time, what could one do with 14 days out of 365 days? Yet God could do a lot. What He showed us is not only limited to Cambodia, the nation, or the Khmer people, or the issue of human trafficking and sex slavery and exploitation, but more …
We woke up at 6am, quick breakfast at Anise, took the time to skype with my family, washed down my croissant with a small cup of steamed milk coffee, spent our devotion time at Beth and Stephen’s, out we travelled to projects, walking, and eating, and talking. Everyday was jam-packed with activities already pre-organized. Out of all the organized project visits, I got to meet 4 individuals whom I have never ever met before. (Well I met one of them but he hardly remember who I am!) They are all outside of our scheduled project visits. Their names are not on our agendas, let alone sitting down for dinner at Foreign Correspondent Club or for a frosty lime juice on a patio. I know it was such an evidence of providence that God orchestrated for me to meet alone and to simply stand in awe of His Sovereignty and His all knowing and presence, my Father God said, “I am not leading you to Cambodia to visit projects only. I am leading you here to meet the people, not only the Khmer people, but also those who obey me to come here to serve, the God-fearing people.”
I, amongst the others, were walking around Hagar “catch-up” school, listening to the project co-ordinator explaining to us how the classes are organized. Whenever we walked passed one classroom, the students would stand up and greet us. One boy even stood up and asked, “what are your names? Where are you coming from?”. As we walked passed another classroom, I saw a man sitting down with his face facing towards a white board behind him. His face was lit up sideway by the light of the projector. His eyes were starring upwards occasionally and turning towards the rest of the class, obviously explaining something.
I stood there and thought, “His face!! I recognize his face, he looks extremely familiar, but where did I meet him before?” I looked around to my team-mate, their faces didn’t give me an answer either. I know if I scratched my brain, my photographical memory of faces and dates will give me an answer. “ta-dah! I remember him. He is from Toronto, He is from Rexdale Alliance Church. Ahhhhh!! But I didn’t remember his name. I asked my team-mate, “do you recognize him?” No. Who is that? So I turned to the project co-ordinator and asked who is that man sitting in the classroom. “Oh, He is Mr. Kevin. Do you know him?” No, I dont’ really know him, but I am 110% sure that I have talked to him before about Cambodia, but where and when??? “Yes, He is from Toronto, Canada. He just got here this January and will stay in Hagar teaching English at our school for 6 months.” Ahhhhhh!! Yes, I remember him now. I met him 2 years ago when I went to the social justice conference in January 2009 at Rexdale. I was sitting with him and his wife around the cafetaria table over plates of pasta sharing our reasons why we were there learning about the child sex slavery in Cambodia. I remember he shared that how he didn’t know what to do after knowing about the situation in Cambodia, but he was waiting for God to lead!!
Now, 2 years later, on a scheduled visit to Hagar’s catch up school on an extremely hot Wednesday in the middle of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, walking randomly into one of the many corridors of Hagar’s facility, having my eyes scanning through one of the the glass-paneled classrooms, resting my eyes not only on the 30+ uniformed boys and girls, but also on one of the teachers, who was sitting on a chair obviously too low and too small for his built. Yet God directed my eyes to him and I was there totally amazed by God’s orchestration of events. A coincidence such as this was more than enough to make known to me that He is very faithful to the end. I was obviously elated to meet someone though I merely talked to for a span of 2 plates of pastas here in Cambodia, my team-mates were all surprised by my photographical memory of faces. I was not surprised by that but more of how could that happen? what on earth does God want me to learn and remember by such coincidence.
I immediately turned to the project co-ordinator and told him how I recognized Mr. Kevin. I asked him to please pass on a message to Mr. Kevin that someone from Toronto, Canada, recognized his face and would want to pray for him and his ministry with Hagar.
An hour later, we were sitting in one of the classrooms interacting with the local Khmer teacher about how they encouraged students to come to school by giving them bus-fare with an exchange of a empty can they scavenged from the working dump to avoid dropping out of school. As I was writing down notes about how Hagar emphasizes on education for children in the community. I looked up from my notepapers, there was Mr. Kevin standing outside the classroom, obviously waiting for us to finish. Finally our Q&A session was over, I walked out of the classroom and being greeted by his smile and a very firm handshake. “Yes, that’s you, you are Kevin from Rexdale Alliance. I don’t think you remember me. We sat together at the youth center at Rexdale 2 years ago for the social justice conference hosted by Ratanak. We are here in Cambodia with Ratanak International.” He answered with an enthusiasm, “Yes I learnt about Hagar through Ratanak too. That’s why I am here for 6 months and will see how God leads.”
There I was shaking his hands and saying goodbye and promising him that I will continue to pray for his work with Hagar and in Cambodia. I left with a heart so swelled with joy and disbelief. I kept murmuring to myself, “this is unbelievable. this is soooo surreal. He is here and I am here. We met because of Cambodia. Now he is here teaching English. I am here seeking God’s will in my life for Cambodia” Cliff asked, “Do you know that guy?” I turned to Cliff and repeated the same line over and over again. I skipped and jumped on my way down from the classrooms to the courtyard not only because of the divine coincidence that God allows to happen at such a time and space, my mind went back to our conversation 2 years ago over a plate of pasta. Both of us didn’t even know when and if ever we would meet again, yet I could not think of a better way to meet him again, in the middle of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in one of the projects that Ratanak is funding, in one of the classrooms that God’s love and care is showing, him serving Our King with his skills and gift and most of all with a heart of obedience.
Psalm 36 swells in my heart, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your justice like the great deep.”