I don't know where to begin. I am hot and tired and sweat is dripping off me as I start typing but I just have to get all this off my chest RIGHT NOW! And its a lot of honesty, so get ready...
I decided to leave my kids with a sitter during naps today and go out for a photo walk. You know, a walk where I just snap pictures of whatever I want and then do whatever I want with them. Well, the walk yielded very few photos and a whole lot of emotions.
I found myself in a neighborhood I didn't know. A REAL Phnom Penh neighborhood, not the fancy ex-pat ones I usually stick to. I was holding my camera strap tightly as I decided to start snapping photos of the people around me on the streets. Here is the first one I took:
And just after I snapped it that moto driver pulled up to me with a sad expression on her face. It didn't take me long to figure out why. See, I was standing there in cute clothes, nice shoes, and holding a camera that was worth more money than many Cambodians make in a year. I was taking their picture and then turning to walk away! I was doing nothing to help! I deserved her sad expression. And I decided to do I should do something about it.
But...I don't speak Khmer. I mean, I say that I'm trying to, and I really am, but my brain is just so full it doesn't seem to accept any new words! I knew there was no way I could have a meaningful conversation with them. And this was one of those God moments when I totally felt the Spirit telling me to speak to them.
And yet, even still, I couldn't do it. I stood there and I did say a prayer for them, hoping God would accept that in exchange. As I was praying for them the lady glanced over at me and I smiled at her. I reached in my bag to look for a bottle of water I could give her but it was empty. I hadn't brought a wallet, so I was standing there with no money, no food, no drink to give her. So I smiled and then walked away.
I walked away so disappointed. I walked away praying for God to forgive me and as the tears ran down my cheeks I began to notice others around me who needed prayer. I put my camera away and since I truly had nothing to give I just prayed for them.
I prayed for a young boy who was going through the trash. Whether he was looking for something to sell or something to eat, I will never know. I prayed for his future.
I prayed for a woman with 2 small children who was sitting under a tree next to a heap of trash. I prayed for their health and her children's bellies to be full - or at least not empty - tonight.
I prayed for an old lady who was hunched over in front of a small fire with squid looking things on a stick as she smiled up at me with no front teeth. I prayed for the past she had and thanked God that she is alive. In Cambodia, there aren't a lot of old people because a massive genocide murdered 3/4 of their population in the 1970's.
I prayed for a group of young boys who were playing with a flip flop, kicking it back and forth in a circle because they didn't have a ball or anything else to kick around. I laughed and kicked the flip flop as I walked by and they thought I was awesome!
I prayed for a man sleeping in a hammock. I don't know his story either, but I prayed for him.
I prayed all this out loud as I walked through the alleys.
I made a mistake today. I felt God leading me to speak to the people in the photo and I didn't follow His will. But He forgave me and gave me others to love. He literally put them in my path. I also decided that I will venture out with my camera again, but next time I'll also have some water bottles and some tracts in Khmer that I bought at the Christian bookstore here. I don't speak their language but its all right there for them - from Creation to Eternity - in beautiful pictures. And, most importantly, in their own language.
I realized that these people don't believe in God. They are likely Buddhist and chances are good that they haven't even heard of the Lord before. I need to show them that He is the God Who Sees, and that their needs are never to small for Him.
And it also means that it's likely that no one has ever prayed for them. So today I did.
Can you pray for me to have the courage to do this again and do it even better next time? You'll have to pray a lot because it's going to take a lot of Him which means very little of me and giving up myself is just so hard, as I learned today.
It'd be so easy to forget God's purpose for me here, but there's nothing I want more than to be living in the middle of His will.
"How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Romans 10:14 NIV