After 7 weeks away on outreach in Cambodia and Thailand we arrived back in New Zealand on Sunday.
Crazy that it’s already finished! So many stories, experiences, encounters, joys, challenges. And we’re thankful to be able to stand this end and tell stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
How do we start and how do we choose what to include?!
First let us tell you about our time in Cambodia…
So as we posted before we spent about the first week in Phnom Penh getting to know the place and God’s heart for the people and country of Cambodia. We worshipped over the city and nation, prayer walked, asked God what He was already doing there, what He wanted for us and our time there. It was such a good time and so foundational for our trip. We’ve realised more and more how important prayer and worship is in breaking through in the spiritual atmosphere to make way for physical breakthrough. The team found it really helpful to start the work we were doing with getting God’s heart for the people, places and situations we were going into, rather than going in on our own assumptions, expectations, and interpretations of things. To go in with His eternal perspective, lifting high His name and reflecting on who He is , helped us not to be as overwhelmed by the difficult things we encountered, knowing He is at work and He’s doing things under the surface. For us to come in knowing that we were joining in with what He is already doing and what He will continue doing once we are gone, we’re just a piece and part of His story and what He is about long term there, rather than coming in with our own story and plan.
The next 2 and a bit weeks we spent up in Siem Reap with an amazing organisation called “Punlok Thmey”. Punlok Thmey means “new growth”. It stands for the moment a seed is planted into the ground and begins to sprout new growth. Believing that for every child who is sexually abused, they could have a chance at new growth. Their life could be replanted in the ground of Hope, and they could be new again.
This was particularly exciting for me (Nai!) as my heart for a long time has been prevention of trafficking and this organisation focuses a lot on prevention. So to be involved and see how they do things was really amazing. It’s so difficult seeing women and men at the other end that have gone through the trauma of being trafficked and how difficult it is for them to get out and to then even find freedom in their minds from the trauma. So to be part of a work that in some ways rescues before they need rescuing, is so incredible I can’t even explain!!
Although what was really hard was that some of these children we’re already being prostituted. Siem Reap is known for child prostitution/trafficking. Paedophiles come and stay or live in Siem Reap. To hear some of the stories was pretty horrific, even some of the children being picked up whilst we were working in the slum areas. Stories that you wish weren’t reality, but drive you forward even more passionately, to pray, to seek God,to raise our voices, to do justice.
We worked with Punlok Thmey in providing a safe place for them to come play, be children, share their burdens, come to know Jesus. Providing English classes and Bible lessons for children aged 3-13, from the local slum areas. In the morning we would have 3 different levels of English classes followed by a Bible lesson with all of them. Then we had staff training. Followed by a repeat of the morning program. After that we then went into 2 different slum areas they’re particularly focusing on, we took games and set up a mat and played with children and built relationship with them. All of these classes and staff training we ran as a team enabling the staff to have a break from running them for those 2 weeks.
We we’re so privileged and blessed to go and serve this ministry, to come alongside them, to support and encourage the staff that are there long term doing this amazing work. It was eye opening, hard, and a joy to work with the children.
The night before we left one of the staff members had a dream . She dreamt that they as a team were on bikes, struggling to move forward and tired, then a group of people came and pushed them and they were able to move forward again. She said she felt that this was our team as we’d helped them and encouraged them, and they were able to keep going. This exactly fulfilled one of our aims for our time with them. To bless, support, and encourage the long term staff of the ministry to carry on the incredibly important work they are doing.
After spending almost 4 weeks in Cambodia it was time to move on to Thailand which we will share about in our next blog…