So many stories being written about, yet I wonder how many were being read carefully and prayed over with daily intercession, especially those were written years ago. There are days I simply want to sit back and read …. my devotion on the book of Isaiah (mind boggling and heart convicting!!) and a few blog entries which I did not pay much attention then to the details until today. I find comfort reading it now because I was there not too long ago. Probably because I was asked bluntly yesterday, a bit out of the blue, by a friend about Cambodia. I carefully told her about the history, about the political turmoil, about the Buddhist acceptance of KARMA, the killings, the foreign pedophiles, the corruption, the wars, the statistics, most of all, the love of Jesus, and His power of transformation. All these start to sound like I am telling my own story, very familiar to my ears because they have been in my vocabulary bank for quite some years. A photographic memory and sensory of that particular place and that particular smell do me a big favour as I could “fly” myself there for a moment without physically being there. (Though how much I long to be there again, I will wait for the Lord’s timing!!) Here goes the blog entry I read today …
Today was a day of absolute extremes. We had the absolute pleasure to meet with two New Zealanders – Sue and Sue from Hagar. Hagar is an organisation which specialises in rehabilitation of young children of both sexes who have been subjected to the massive traumas of sexual abuse. The youngest in their care is just 5 years old…
Hagar majors on the “too hard basket”. This phrase caught me from the off. It was only a year ago that another organisation warned me away from work with these kids telling me it was too dangerous and too hard. Well – this organisation is testament to the fact that nothing is too hard for those who follow Christ. It may get a little messy along the way but it is never too hard.
The Buddhist acceptance of karma pretty much dictates that this is your lot in life and better luck next time. I don’t quite grasp how that can work in ever breaking the cycle of decline which has robbed these children of their innocence. With Jesus we simply come as we are – wretches with all our baggage – and He alone can restore.
Hagar runs a project for abused boys – the only one in the country. It is a pilot and has reached its capacity with 8 kids residential and a further 8 in community foster care. These little guys are as young as 8 and have been violated largely by western paedophiles. This area is a new aspect to their programme but one which is so essential. There are clear needs to develop further care facilities for young boys who are still enduring this torment. A new venture will cost in the region of £22,000 to open. Shame and ignorance has hidden the extent of the problem of sexually abused boys. I guess the depth of evil here goes very deep – yet I delight in the fact that the depth of Jesus love goes deeper.
We learned of a 13 year old boy who has been repeatedly raped by a western man but the mother was given $2000 to drop the charge by the perpetrator. In the night robbers visited the mother house and stole the cash cutting her throat in the process.
Another 12 year old girl with learning difficulties wandered the village being continually raped. Because she had a low IQ she was dismissed as crazy and was abandoned – she didn’t even have a name. After falling pregnant she was refused care by 4 organisations. She gave birth to a baby whilst still a child herself she had no concept of caring for this infant. Eventually a widow who lived in a house next to the church took her in and cared for both of them – Hagar assists this lady as she is so poor and struggles to look afford to live. Both are Christians and now attend the church together.
Stories like this are common here and yet whilst there is so much to be sad over there is also much to rejoice about.
In the afternoon we headed out to the Hagar foster care programme. A place where young girls live in safety – for most this is a new experience. Here they can start to rebuild their lives with expert counselling and education before moving to community homes under the watchful eye of a loving house mom. We left this place and headed to one such community home accompanied by the 5 beautiful young girls who live there. They eagerly show us round their home before presenting the entire team with a gift. Straining hard to hold back the tears we share some time sat around chatting before praying for the girls continued wellbeing. In turn they prayed for the team. As we leave the girls all stand at the door and wave farewell. Dry eyes on the way back to the hotel – not a chance!
It is so amazing to see the complete transformations in girls when Jesus moves in. I just wish there could be more. Do pray for the two Sues and Hagar as they spearhead this work. We are exposed to it for a fleeting moment – they see and hear it every day.
Cambodia is a nation of extremes. We see the beauty of transformed lives through the grace of Christ. We see groups of committed individuals working to facilitate this – groups from overseas and local groups. And yet there is the down right ugly which parallels this. In addition to the horrendous stories we witnessed tonight some of the worst of Cambodia. We headed to a hotel where we were told there are girls for sale. No preparation can ready you for what we faced. Leaving the plush hotel lobby to the first floor we are faced with a wall of girls sat behind glass looking back at us. Each girl is segregated into her nationality group and wears a badge on their shirt. This is one of the tragedies – they are simply a number. Their identity is stripped and they have become just another commodity. Some smile back – other seek to avoid eye contact. For $6 you get a massage and for $8 you get a ‘VIP massage’.
We ride away in a tuk tuk in a stunned silence. Here we see the evidence that Satan has come to “steal, kill and destroy”. He does it every minute of every day and yet we have also seen the Christ who came to give us the fullness of life so evidently at work in these communities.
The enemy of our souls has certainly moved in like a flood and yet the Spirit of the Lord is raising up a standard. — Steve Norman, Ratanak UK