How much can you do without Jesus?
2 weeks ago, I finally started being involved in the street children ministry at ‘Love146’. I would go every Saturday and spend the afternoon doing art therapy with around 20 children. The ‘centre’ is a semi-open space located strategically in the midst of bars and night clubs where prostitution happens. ‘Love146’ rented 2 shops – one for outreaching to male ‘customers’ in that area; one for offering a safe space for children to hang out. Our children have very complicated backgrounds, and I will save the details here. But what I could see and hear is that they ‘live’ amongst violence, crimes, gangs activities, day in day out. I expected the work to be hard, and I prepared deligently, but in fact it was much more challenging than I could ever anticipate.
In our first session, I found myself in a deep pit of madness and mess. There were so many distractions around us that the children could not care less what we were doing. The Khmer staff and I tried our best to pull their attention back, but our effort proved frail. It was a disaster. Hardly anything worked out as I had hoped. One of the boys even got so angry that he threw my shoes down the street… I can’t actually recall ever feeling that useless and discouraged…
Then I retreated to my quiet place and asked the Lord to show me the truth. How did He actually think about it? About me? I thought I did everything He had inspired me to do, but nothing worked. I felt so ashamed that I was not doing the children any good and not bringing Him glory. I cried out to God, I knew that they were street children, I knew that I could not expect discipline and respect from them, and I tried to love, but I didn’t know how. My heart was breaking apart, and I was desperate for the Father to tell me what HE actually thought!
And as always, the Lord doesn’t like to address my questions directly, but He always tells me the answer I need to hear. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid because of them. For the Lord your God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut 31:6). When He had spoken this to me, I realized that in the midst of craziness and chaos, I had forgotten that He was with me. I too was distracted by the storms around,
For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Cor 12:10)
and had forgotten about the treasure I hold – CHRIST IN ME, the hope of glory. So, the Lord didn’t tell me how I performed, He didn’t give me an evaluation report, He didn’t tell me what practically to do next time. He simply promised this: His presence.
In the process of these wrestlings of the heart with God, I said to myself: why do I get myself into all these troubles? If I hadn’t gone to ‘Love146’, I would leave Cambodia feeling quite happy and feeling I had done quite well. But now I have nothing to be proud of, nothing… And the Lord said, “that’s exactly what I want for you! Apart from me, you can do NOTHING.” His word pierced my soul. He wants my pride to be crushed to a point where there is nothing left in me, of me, to be boastful about; apart from CHRIST IN ME, the hope of glory. He also reveals to me that He is doing ‘cutting off branches’ and ‘pruning’ in me, that’s why I’m feeling the pain. What grace it is! It hurts, but I know that He is the loving gardener. I am in very good hands.
I am learning that “being strong and courageous” is not about me pumping up my confidence and putting on psychological defense mechanisms to protect myself from being broken in heart or poor in spirit. It is knowing the GRACE and POWER of God despite and IN my weaknesses. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight IN weaknesses, IN insults, IN hardships, IN persecutions, IN difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor 12:10)
You didn’t choose me, but I chose you
At the beginning of the month my flatmate Sarah and I went to Siem Reap for a weekend trip. To be honest, for various reasons, I really did not want to go. But as Sarah was very keen, I decided that I would go with her… but I prayed this, “Lord, I really don’t want to go. But if I must go, you must come with me. I don’t just want a holiday. Show me your glory in the trip.” And that’s what He did!
We arrived at Siem Reap at 4am. Very rarely do long distance coaches make it early, but there we were, hardly awake, standing at the bus stop in the dark, not quite sure what to do next. Then a tuk-tuk driver came and asked where we wanted to go. Among about 50 other passengers, we were the first ones to be ‘called upon’ by a tuk-tuk driver. We were a bit amazed but were too tired to think… so we got on his tuk- tuk and arrived at our hostel.
And so he was our driver through-out the day, and we did get to know each other a bit. Sarah and I did not plan to go to a church service on the Sunday, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to take the driver to church. So we searched for Siem Reap churches, and prayed that the Lord would prompt him to come with us. However, by the end of the day, he was getting a bit grumpy, and I felt like he might not want to drive us around on Sunday. If he would not take us, we would not be able to invite him to church. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked the Father to show me what He was doing, and let me partner with Him.
Sunday morning came, our driver didn’t turn up… but another driver appeared! Apparently he was sent by his friend who couldn’t come, and he was there to replace him! We asked him to take us to church, and while on the way, he said, “oh! this is the way to my home!” As a matter of fact, he lives very near the church we wanted to go to but he never knew the church existed! He ended up joining us in the service, and said that he would like to go back! Hallelujah!!
Brothers and sisters, I am so deeply amazed by the wisdom and sovereignty of our God. We didn’t set out on a holy mission to ‘save a driver’, but in His mercy, the Lord could use even a weekend trip to bring a lost sheep home. We didn’t choose the driver, but he chose us at the bus station. We didn’t choose his friend, he chose him for us. The Lord has chosen us and appointed us, each one of us, in all situations, so that we might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last; and so that whatever we ask for in His name the Father will give us (John 15:16). This weekend of many many amazing encounters started by a very simple prayer, from one person who was not even very willing to go! Brothers and sisters, let us not try to complicate His will, but simply trust Him and love Him like a child would his father. The eyes of the Lord searches throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His (2Chron 16:9). Let us lift up our hearts to HIm, fully, completely, without reserve – that He may show himself great, and that we may praise His glorious grace! Amen!
ISM Student January 2015
Internship Daughter’s of Cambodia