Monday, May 21, 2012

Farewell, Cambodia

I set the time on this blog post to publish just as our plane leaves Cambodia.  As I write, I sit in an empty apartment where the only thing that remains is our luggage and the daylight is fading fast.

My mind is racing.  In 5 hours I get on a plane and we leave this country.  Forever?  I don’t know.  I hope not. I hope to at least visit again someday.  I never imagined that I’d fall so completely in love with a place I wasn’t ever really sure I wanted to come to. I never expected the people to touch my heart the way they did. I hoped to come here and change some lives, but over this year, God instead changed me.

He taught me that there is so much more to being a Christian than I’d ever known. I grew up in the Bible belt, knew all the answers at Sunday School, and went to church several times a week. My family tithed on our income and helped others at church who were in need.  We taught youth, we led Bible Studies, we prayed together. God’s been in my life as long as I can remember.

But I see now that it wasn’t enough.

He had to use this year to show me the real world.  He showed me real people, with real needs that I would never have encountered in the comfort of my neighborhood in America.  He helped me wake up to the truth of poverty and injustice and how little was being done about it by the only ones who really had the means to help.  He showed me little boys and girls who had been through horrors of sex trafficking that I couldn’t have even created in the darkest part of my own imagination. 

Yes, darkness. The Lord showed me darkness. It was all around me in Cambodia.

But He also showed me the light that is present here.  THE light. His light. In a country that was ravaged by civil war and genocide just 30 years ago, God’s name and God’s presence are now spreading like fire.  IJM is rescuing victims and putting perpetrators behind bars. I couldn’t be prouder of my husband for all he’s done here.  Churches are growing and much of Cambodia’s next generation is worshipping the resurrected Jesus instead of a statue of Buddha. God is Light. And He is shining in the darkness.

God wants us, as His children, Christ-followers, to be that light in the darkness.  He’s telling me that it’s light enough in the pews of the sanctuary.  He wants us out there where we are needed, serving the least of these, getting dirty, stretching our faith, and growing in Him. 

So today my family leaves Cambodia, but we will remain “missionaries” for a lifetime.  We commit to go where God leads and spread his light in the darkness wherever we may be. 

Will you join us?
Will you pray for us?
Will you be a light in the darkness?

I hope so.  Because it’s a big world out there. 

**And thank you to all who made it possible for us to live here this year and be changed and shaped and stretched and molded by God!  Thanks for your support – in finances, in prayer, in encouragement, and in love. Thank you especially to the congregation of Spout Springs Church in NC, our "home" church throughout this journey, and a constant reminder of God's faithfulness. We are anxious to see all of you.**

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