Two weeks have passed since our team of six arrived back in California from Siem Reap, Cambodia. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, they truly were felt. Now since we’ve been back, my mind has been full, my heart is overwhelmed, and it’s been a journey to piece together what truly happened over there and the remarkable things God showed us.
On a surface level, it was incredible to take in the sights and sounds and smells of Cambodia. The humidity is overwhelming, especially since we are all used to the dry heat of California. Even running five miles in the heat of summer here could never get me as sweaty as I was by just standing in the sun at 7am for five minutes. The crickets are big, geckos are everywhere, and the land is lush and beautiful. The people are gentle, shy, and so lovely, and the language is awesome. We saw monkeys at Angkor Wat, toured a Silk Farm, haggled in bustling markets, walked in rice fields, taught in a village school, rode bikes in the crazy traffic, got caught in a heavy rainstorm, played with adorable village kids, rode in a tuk tuk, and even got a “fish massage.” We experienced so much in two weeks that it felt like we were there for months.
But on a spiritual level, the theme of the trip very early on became Light vs. Darkness. During devotionals we marveled at how those scriptures that we’ve all read that reference the light and the dark were coming alive like they never had before.
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5
Our first morning, we rode a tuk tuk on the busy streets to get some breakfast and see a little more of the city. We had come in the night before, and in the cover of darkness we had driven past some of the bars and had seen some of what appeared to be “the ladies of the night” which was heartbreaking. Now in the daylight, what we saw was new and different, and interesting, and we had this surreal feeling of, “We are IN Cambodia!” People were going to and fro, riding motos through traffic, doing their morning business as usual, selling and buying on the street. But there was a brokenness and darkness that was indescribable and palpable. We headed home, quiet and thoughtful, and as we rode down our dirt road and stopped in front of the gate of the house we heard the most beautiful, angelic harmony of voices rising up into the street and into the open air:
” In Christ alone, my hope is found…He is my light, my strength, my song!…
This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest trial and storm…
What heights of love, what depths of peace!… “
And in that heavenly moment we walked up to the entryway of the house and joined the rest of our housemates in worship, overwhelmed and humbled by how breathtaking the LIGHT of Christ is, In Christ Alone, so much brighter and more powerful than any darkness could ever be. It reveals everything, penetrates through hearts, gives hope to the hopeless and life to the lifeless. There is so much darkness in a place like Cambodia, but the light is bursting through and has already overcome! That morning the chorus of voices, from missionaries from all over the world, praising our great God together, it was a beacon of light that shone over that entire street. And from that moment on, we felt the light of Christ with us wherever we went whether it was riding our bikes through town or walking through one of the poor villages or teaching at the school in Pouk, another bright light in a dark place. I saw clearly that God has not forsaken these people, He is there amongst them, He is doing mighty and miraculous things.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
And back in America we see this nation as being covered in an artificial light, where there are less extremes and the shades of life are not starkly contrasted, and anything goes and we waver from walking in a dim light to wandering into the shadows and then coming back into the brightness for a bit.
But no, we are called to walk in the light. Because what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)
If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:6
And among the many things my eyes have been opened to, this trip has given me a new perspective on God’s provisions for us. Give us this day our daily bread. Ask and you shall receive.
We all know and have experienced that God blesses and God provides, but I’ve never seen God provide to the level as we saw in Cambodia. Our eyes were open and our hearts were expectant. He amazes with what He does for us and all glory goes to Him. And I marvel at the fact that God does not stop at our daily needs but He gives all things: supernatural energy when we are exhausted, divine peace when our hearts are troubled, extraordinary competence when we are clueless, steady confidence when we are uncertain, blessings and favor that we never deserve, consolation when we feel foolish, unprecedented strength when we are weak, encouragement when we are weary, wisdom, assurance, protection and the list goes on and on. And through all of this, He gives us what we don’t even realize we need.
This is the kind of Father God we have, and in those uninterrupted days of devoted service for Him and fellowship with Him, with the eyes of our hearts on Him, His presence was Heavenly bliss.
If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 4:11b
I have come to truly rest in the knowledge of this, but it was emphasized during our time in Cambodia, that because we have Jesus, because we have the cross and the resurrection, we are blessed. Period! I am not waiting to be blessed because I already am. Thank you, Lord!
Take my time here on this Earth, and let it glorify all that You are worth.
A few more takeaways:
I am: encouraged by what God is doing in the global church. There is light seeping through, there is hope and He is moving mountains!
I know to: put on the armor of God daily because this is a spiritual battle fought with spiritual weapons.
I will: live with purpose, prayerfully, attentive, ready to spread the aroma of Christ to all the world. Watching. Seeking. Standing firm. Growing. Obeying. Surrendering.
I must: be intentional always, in everything I do, running the race. In every waking moment. This life is but a breath, every day and every hour is a gift. Stop wandering hesitant in the wilderness but be ready and be bold!
“We do not save people, Jesus does.” – Haya
I know now like I’ve never known before to always remember that God is bigger than humidity and heat or monsoons or dirty feet or huge bugs or crazy traffic or lethargic, sweaty afternoons or malaria or turbulant plane rides or any fears we can muster or doubts we can whisper, no, God is bigger. Nothing can separate us! The moods I’m in and the feelings I have are inconsistent and flighty but God is the Constant, never changing, always faithful I Am. My erratic heart and my wavering mind only bring me back to gaze upon the Source of everything good, everything true Who was and is and is above all that we struggle with in this world. Oh Lord, look at the mess we’ve made, and in Your perfection You still meet us here. Hallelujah.
Holy, You are still Holy, even when the darkness surrounds my life,
Sovereign, You are still Sovereign, even when confusion has blinded my eyes.
Holy, You are still Holy, even when I don’t understand Your ways
Sovereign, You are still Sovereign, even when my circumstances don’t change.
Now I pray that Cambodia will remain on our hearts. We will continue to pray for the ministries we saw producing fruit there, for Light to the Nations, Eli School, Missions Kayang Kayang, for White Doves, for the YWAM base in Siem Reap, for Pouk village, for all the faithful servants we met, for leaders to rise up from Cambodia to lead their people to the only source of Living Water in Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory for ever and ever, amen.
(Here is a song Corinne had me listen to in one of our quiet reflective moments during our time in Siem Reap, and it will forever bring me back there. It’s so beautiful):
Lord, as I offer everything. I pray that my life would make You pleased.
That I might move mountains, and wake the sea.
O, that Your light would shine through me…Holy Lord, shine through me.