… $21 …

Sitting across  from a woman whose obedience took her to serve Cambodia a few years ago.  What a priviledge to sit there and listen and learn, and also share how God called and broke my heart for this nation. I had all the questions to ask her and I painstakingly combed through each of them and registered her answers in my mind.  Facts were gathered :

15 million of population, 50% of which is under age of 25.

One of the 15 million is a single mother with 5 young children to feed.  Her monthly income is $20 a month.  She owns a small plot of land to grow rice, if she gets “lucky”, she would get 2 crops every year, resulted in $100 of income a year.  For 6 hungry stomachs to feed.

All the while we were exchanging these facts on our lips, while washing down our inches-thick burgers.  Two Homeburger Combo plus tax were $21 even, not a penny more nor a penny less.  A dinner worth of last night is all that this single mother would earn every month for 6 hungry stomachs.  I put down my half-eaten burger.  Stomach shrinked to a big knot.

Poverty line.  Below poverty line.  Our definition of orphans.  Their definition of orphans.  NGOs.  Lots of NGOs.  Empowerment.  Hand out dependent.  Economy driven by its people, or driven by foreigners.  Children in sex trade.

We talked about our families.  “Do you have any sibling?  How are your parents?”  That took our converation to this milestone of my life of being thunderbolted by His calling, while at the very time, awestruck by His divine Sovereignty of taking my father home.  I cannot believe it was exactly 3 years ago, I was sitting across my father, telling him about Cambodia in a very sticky humid summer day in Hong Kong.  It was also exactly 3 years ago, I was sharing Isaiah 55 with my father for the first time.  We sat across from each other, with a tall glass of icy cold beer in our hands, we talked, and we prayed while alcohol was still fresh on my lips.

3 years later, I told the story to this woman who sat across from me.  My tears overwhelmed my sentences and sequence of events.  I kept repeating myself about the AFFIRMATION from God that this is more than just a “ministry add on”.  It demanded a lot of prunning and shedding my old self and habitual choices.  This was NOT a newly acquired project.  I felt a sense of responsiblity to speak up to anyone whom I cross path with despite it is not always the most easiest topic for others to listen, let alone to respond.   Yet a sense of urgency was crawling up to my throat that I cannot swallow down.  It kept crawling up until I spit it out.   I have to speak, because really, I do not have a choice.  God invites me.  God keeps fanning the fire and the flame.  God puts words on my lips to talk to an audience of one, or an audience of 200.  His words still ring true with urgency and emergency.  God holds my limpy faith.  God softly demands my trust in Him.  God gently tells me that is what He wants me to do for as long as I live.  I have no choice but to retrieve myself to pray for an answer (actually pray for a way out!) with such audacity that I had no inkling what costs would be involved.  The cost is so very high, it costs everything, it demands everything.   It turns my heart. It permeates into conversations with my husband.  It penetrates into casual pillow talks with my daugther.  It infiltrates into our prayers, or even a casual remarks of the weather.  It pauses our immediate choices.  It shifts our definition of our Saturday mornings and summer vacations.  It dotes on a strange love bursting from within for Cambodia, that seems to explode into cracking fireworks everytime I learn something new about the country.  It welcoms my tears like a water filter device, sifting the dirt, and comes pure drops of His sorrow.  “Infestation!!” but in not a harmful obnoxious way.

I kept giving out all the facts to remind myself while explaining to this dear friend who sat across from me, listening.  Yet I would still ask this question, “But it doesn’t make any sense. Who am I really?  What’s the point of what I do to even make a dent on darkenss when darkness is that humongous?”

Last night, we prayed.  God reminded us with all the promises He once made with all the forefathers.  “Yes, He doesn’t always make a lot of sense in our human minds, does He?”

It didn’t make any sense that God would ask Noah to build a big boat in the desert where it never rained.

It didn’t make any sense that the Israelites walked around Jericho for 7 days singing “kum bah yah” while everyone on the walls laughed at them.

It didnt’ make any sense for Moses to charge toward the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s attacking army bearing down on them.

It didn’t make any sense to leave Ur for Cannan when you are already a pretty wealthy guy like Abram was.

It didn’t make any sense to be killing Isaac before he could grow up and have kids himself so that Abraham could be the father of a nation, with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

All these looked very foolish, but only because I view my God with foolishness when viewed from my pea-size limited perspective.

With all of the many “it didn’t make any sense”, God brings so much sense by showing us the “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see … without faith is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.  By faith, Noah condemned the world and became heir of righteouness that is in keeping with faith.  All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promises, they only  welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth … Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

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