We have been back in San Diego for about a week it has taken me this long to begin processing all that happened on my trip to Cambodia. I am sure it is cliché to say that this trip changed me but it surely did. I am a certainly a confirmed advocate for short-term mission trips after my experience, but honestly, me being changed is just the beginning. Just like the dust kicked up into the air from what seemed like hundreds of motos and Tuk-Tuks racing through the streets of Phnom Penh, I feel like the dust in me has been shaken and still has not settled. I carried several things home with me, including some faces, experiences, ideas, and lingering questions about God’s plan for my life.
When you get home from a trip like this, you are often asked to share some of the most incredible stories. As I have tried to respond to these requests I have found it challenging. I realize that so many of the things that have made impressions on me are not necessarily stories of amazing things that God has done. Some of the deepest impressions are more of the places where the potential lies; where light is starting to break through the darkness but hasn’t fully come in yet. In addition, when I think back on the most incredible stories, I think about the people I met and how I saw God working through them.
I saw a small but mighty coalition of committed laborers loving the poor, the sick, the abused and the orphan without the promise of daily fanfare, praise or miracles. We didn’t come home with a certain number of decisions made to follow Christ or any other typical milestones that we celebrate as Christians. Instead, I saw something more beautiful than I have probably ever seen happening in the body of Christ.
I met the unsung heroes at World Vision who are going out night after night, providing survival tips and basic medical care to children and teens living on the streets. I met the Children at Risk workers, pouring all of their lives and energies to see a small group of kids in a slum of Phnom Penh realize their value in Christ and find hope for the future. I saw young women with beaming smiles, serving us coffee at Daughters with pride and confidence, knowing their value despite their past as sex workers (most of them forced into it). I saw the quiet, meek leaders at the Happy Tree Orphanage, loving these kids with HIV and so proud of their kids as they sang songs for us. I saw a group of 22 strangers who met in Cambodia with a mission to serve – a group of people willing to do anything and everything to be the hands and feet of Christ and be a shining light in a place that has seen so much darkness.
I have so many stories to share, which I will do here in the coming weeks. I just want to pause and say thank you to so many Christians who are truly demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus into the nations, into the slums, into the brothels, and into the darkest corners of the earth to share the hope of Christ. What a privilege it is to have served with you and to be a witness to the incredible, miraculous love that you are giving so generously.
Before going on this trip, I remember how excited I was to go somewhere new and see how God was working. After arriving in Cambodia, I realized that seeing God move in incredible ways is not something that you go to Cambodia to see; it is something you go Cambodia to do. God’s plan is that WE are the vessel that carries out his miraculous work. This following Christ idea is not something we are merely called to witness. What an opportunity to be in the stories versus just telling them and some of the stories were just at the beginning. With this realization though comes a second – unless we go, get our hands dirty and commit to doing the work, the plan breaks down.
With the overwhelming needs staring me in the face from my time in Cambodia, never before have I felt so compelled to put myself fully in God’s hand and be a part of his plan to save the children of the needy, rescue to oppressed, comfort the sick and proclaim the good news of Christ as I go. Thank you to Cambodia for reminding me of the importance of one life, one child. To rescue one of the little ones that Jesus welcomed to him is worth a lifetime’s labor.
I keep wrestling with the best way to wrap this up and one verse keeps coming to mind. In the first chapter of Colossians, it talks about the mysteries of the gospel being Christ in us, the hope of glory. Never before have I witnessed how real this is, that as we go we carry the hope of Christ within us, the hope of glory.