Monday, February 14, 2011

A Cambodia Reflection: In Search of a Vision

On Jan 20th till Feb 2nd, I was on a 12 day Vision Quest with Ratanak.  The purpose of the trip was to visit Cambodia, visit Ratanak's partnering Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and develop a personal plan to help prevent child sex slavery and other poverty issues.

Prior going to Cambodia, I sat down with one of my professors at MacMaster Divinity College, Dr Lee Beach.  Over a cup of coffee, he asked me if this was the first time going to a third world country? Yes.  He told me I would have a very vivid experience.

Before I left Canada, I post the following prayer letters to my friends...

Hi everyone,

I will be travelling to Cambodia the end of this week with Ratanak on a vision trip.  We will spend ten days visiting different ministries from Ratanak and other Christian Organizations (Hagar International etc.) I will also spend an additional two days at Place of Rescue (

I am sitting here with my suitcases half pack. We are bringing some medications and vitamins over.  By God's Grace and your support, we have plenty.  

I am not sure where to begin.  Perhaps, one question I ask myself is why go? Why Cambodia?

In applying for this vision trip, I put down that the gospel is much needed in Cambodia.  The country has gone through so much. People do not know their right hand from their left.  There's the poverty issue.  And if you heard anything about Ratanak, there is also the issue on child sex slavery.

I don't think I am doing much.  I don't have the skills. I have no resources.  I am only there for 14 days.  We are only observers. 

We should remember that the battle is not against this world.  It is a spiritual war where our Lord and Savior is leading and He is in charge.  It is not my fight.  It is His fight.  

And so, I go and seek.  I shared with a friend that I want to seek His Kingdom as hard as I can. 

And so, I go with a heavy heart, open eyes and a hopeful heart.  For there is something we can preach and rejoice from Luke 4:18-21:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
   because he has anointed me 
   to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
   and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free, 
   19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”


Jesus said it has been fulfilled.  Though what we see might be full of darkness, we know that His Words are true and eternal.  Jesus has fulfilled them!

And with this hope I go in.  
We can go into the darkness and fight the good fight.  
B/c He will bind the evil one down.  
He will give freedom to the prisoners of poverty.  
He will heal those who are hurt.  
He will free the slaves from the brothels.  

And YES, we can all proclaim the year of the Lord's favor!!!

With all these in mind, if you can spend some time each day while I am gone to pray for the following items, I will really appreciate it. I will be there on Jan 22 and will stay until Feb 4th.

First thing first, please pray for me to wear the armor of God at all times. We know how satan loves to tempt and taunt.  As a guy, lustful tempation is huge.  May I be strong in seeking His Kingdom that I will not trade His majestic Glory for the sins of the flesh.

Pray for the Cambodian people.  Pray for those who do not know Christ.  Pray for the children that they will be free.  Pray for the brothel owners that the Lord will open their eyes and their heart to see the wickedness in their business. Pray for the customers that they will have the consciousness of the Lord that there is much shame in their actions. 

Pray for our fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Cambodia laboring day in and day out.  Pray that they will be strong as satan roams around like a lion among their midst.  May their actions are filled with grace.

Lastly, pray for God to blow my mind.  That He will speak with such a strong voice that I will be encouraged to seek His Kingdom ever more....

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."

Matthew 13:44


Before flying to Cambodia, I had a thought of spending two three years as a short term working there.  After all, how hard can it be?  I spent the past year giving up on tri and trying to live as simple as possible...easy huh?  I can do it.

By the third day in the Vision Trip, I got hit with a bad stomach flu.  I spent more time in the washroom. It became almost a routine everyday after breakfast.  My stomach will turn and I know I had to go and try get rid of all that it is inside my intestine before we go out. While everyone was having meals at good restaurants, I resorted to staying in the hotel eating congee.  

So how are you going to be out there doing the work of the Lord if your stomach can't even take care of itself?

he (satan) taunted...

What are you going to do?  Don't you want to go back? You want to huh?  You want to help but you long to go back home?  So much comfort. At least you will have clean food and you won't be stuck in the toilet all the time?  How are you going to seek His Kingdom?  You can't do it.  You might as well forget about this and go back home.  Go back to your comfortable life.  There is nothing you can do here.  How can you stop the child sex slavery?  There is too much poverty around here.  Too big of a problem.  Your effort won't make a difference.  So go.  Go back to Canada.  Go back home.

he (satan) taunted...

I remembered sitting in the toilet making a decision that I am going to continue to Praise the Lord regardless of what happened to my stomach.  There were times I really wanted to go home.  Go back to my house.  Go back to my normality. I thought I was low maintenance and tough. I thought I could do it.  I wasn`t and I ain`t.

Through the whole trip in Cambodia, and to Singapore and Hong Kong, Isaiah 58:1-12 kept popping in my mind.

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. 
   Raise your voice like a trumpet. 
Declare to my people their rebellion 
   and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 
2 For day after day they seek me out; 
   they seem eager to know my ways, 
as if they were a nation that does what is right 
   and has not forsaken the commands of its God. 
They ask me for just decisions 
   and seem eager for God to come near them. 
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, 
   ‘and you have not seen it? 
Why have we humbled ourselves, 
   and you have not noticed?’
   “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please 
   and exploit all your workers. 
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, 
   and in striking each other with wicked fists. 
You cannot fast as you do today 
   and expect your voice to be heard on high. 
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, 
   only a day for people to humble themselves? 
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed 
   and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? 
Is that what you call a fast, 
   a day acceptable to the LORD?

 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice 
   and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free 
   and break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, 
   and your healing will quickly appear; 
then your righteousness[a] will go before you, 
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; 
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

   “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, 
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry 
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed
then your light will rise in the darkness, 
   and your night will become like the noonday. 
11 The LORD will guide you always; 
   he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land 
   and will strengthen your frame. 
You will be like a well-watered garden, 
   like a spring whose waters never fail. 
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins 
   and will raise up the age-old foundations; 
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, 
   Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

I remembered a sister shared with me how she went to a conference about sex slave trafficking and Cambodia, a speaker at the end of the conference asked them to open their eyes, hold their hands up, stared at them and pray.  Pray to use these hands, however they can be used, whatever they can be used, to use them.

I looked at my hands.  I thought about Matthew 25 (to serve the least of them). I thought about Luke 4:17-19 (to free the oppress and proclaim the year to the Lord`s favor).  I studied them. I know the Scriptures.

It is definitely a different picture when I walked in the places where light shines immensely in the cloud of darkness.  We visited organizations with people dedicated to do whatever it takes and as long as it takes to restore broken lives (Hagar International).  We visited orphanages and places where brokenness are restored (Daughters of Cambodia, Bloom, New Song Center etc).  We visited a prison ministry where prisoners were given food, basic needs and a second chance.

This is almost like the Lord is saying...

I am working here.  This is my work and I am restoring this nation.  

What can I say.  As a Christian, it is an obligation and a privilege to get involve. I will be honest. I am weak.  There`s a huge part of me that just don`t want to deal with it.  Since I am back in Canada, it is so far away. I don`t have to read it nor do I have to care about it.  I can simply flip my channel somewhere or do something else.  Yet Isaiah 58 reminded me.  Like a tiny whisper. It speaks of those who worship God by doing the rituals (in today`s words, it will be going to church, going to prayer meeting, going to fellowship) in verse 5:

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, 
   only a day for people to humble themselves? 
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed 
   and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? 
Is that what you call a fast, 
   a day acceptable to the LORD?

Isaiah, in response to Israel in the times of the prophets, responded what was dim appropriate for the Lord in verse 6 onwards:

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice 
   and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free 
   and break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 

To take care of the hungry, to take care of the needy. Isaiah repeats this in verse 10 as well:

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry 
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, 

In NIV version, it uses the word, spend.  Sometimes, we think that we only need to pray and that will be that.  No, in this passage, the Lord is telling Israel, through Isaiah, that they should get involve.  Aka, they need to give money, to spend to help someone out. Mere praying and fasting is not the kind of fasting the Lord wants.  

And this continued to remind me.  It reminded me that this is the obligation of one who follow the Lord.  One who goes and sees the need. One has an obligation to show love to his neigbour in a real and tangible ways.

At the same time, this ain`t a hard rule.  I do not think God is giving us a task like a chore.  No.  God is in all of this.  This is His work and we also have the privilege to be a part of it. It is an honor to spend on behalf of the hungry and give clothing to the naked.   This is not a punishment from God because we follow Him. No.  There is an honor in doing what He is doing.  How should we be joyful to be able to partake in this journey with the Living God.

Lastly, in verse 8, God promises to Israel that if they change their ways and fast the way He wants, the Glory of the Lord will be their rear guard. For some reason, I found this verse particular reassuring.  That the Glory, His Glory, will be behind me.  I will be protected by His Glory.  His Glory will not leave me behind. His Glory will not fail me.  His Glory will be there right behind me.

Sure, satan can taunt and discourage me.  And now back in Canada, I pray.  I pray lots and seek more.   Because this ain`t a task that I can do with my own strength.  Haha, the times in the washroom proofed to me that I am too weak by myself for such task.  His Glory, however, is more than enough to do what`s needed.  

And if we follow Him.  Into the darkness.  Some of us will be called repairer of broken walls and restorer of streets with dwellings (verse 12).


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