Choosing Victory

Well, this week presented plenty of new and exciting experiences due to a little something people from Cambodia call their National Holiday.  It turns out that this is a week long holiday when everyone returns to their “homeland” to be with their families.  Most shops and markets close down and many of the women and children at TransformAsia were not around, which created a different looking week for me and my team.
We visited Foursquare Orphanage where we played games and visited with the kids and the pastor there.  We were introduced to this orphanage through our translator Seang; we will most likely be spending some of our free time in the next several weeks with these kids. 
Then we had the awesome privilege of visiting an organization called Rapha.  It is an organization that receives rescued girls from sex trafficking or sexual abuse situations and provides counseling, a personal lawyer and court case (if needed to charge the girls’ perpetrator), English/sewing/hair dressing classes as well further education in a program called Half Way Home to help them specialize in a skill to use as they reenter into the community.  Once the girls reenter into their community, Rapha maintains contact and relationship for at least two years following their exit from the program to ensure that they are not only coping but thriving in their community.  It was really encouraging seeing Rapha and the strong program that they have here in Battambang.
There had been a lot stirring in my heart about walking the streets at night and praying over the city of Battambang and driving out the darkness that is dwelling here.  I explained in my last blog that I felt drawn to darkness and not really knowing why or what God wanted to do with that.  Well—this week, God answered. 
A teammate of mine also felt this pull and after a lot of prayer and discussing with our team our vision, we were prayed over and completely supported by our sisters before heading out to the streets.  It was amazing to be able to bring a vision before our sisters that seemed a little crazy and probably a little dangerous too, but we received love, support, and encouragement that was completely pure—I am blessed by these women beyond belief.  I am experiencing awesome community, the way God intended it to be. 
The sun goes down in Battambang around 6 or 7 o’clock and that’s when we set out for our walk.  We knew that life looked a little different at night but this walk confirmed that it was almost a different city.  Nearly all the places that you go to during the day close up shop and all of the places that you didn’t know existed, light up and come out of the wood work at night.  My teammate and I asked God to show us only what He wanted us to see and lead us to where He wanted us to go.  Honestly, I can’t explain all that we saw, but we certainly did see and experience some mind-blowing things.  I saw brokenness and bondage.  I saw people trapped in destructive lifestyles they may have chosen for themselves and others that probably were not given a choice.  I saw a very twisted view of how to treat other human beings.  I could see the corrupted law and authority behind so much of the suffering.  All these things I saw were difficult but important for me to see as I prayed.  But what was the most amazing about this night of prayer was that God was faithful and what we asked for, He gave.  I asked to be taken to dark places, and He sent us to some pretty dense places…I asked for Him to guide my steps and He sent me to every place that I needed to be…I prayed that our time spent walking and praying would be affirmed in some way and He TOTALLY did.  Whoa.  And the protection He had over us—amazing.
Lastly, one major piece to my week included a conversation I had with a friend from Cambodia.  He was very sad one day and he explained to me why:  He had talked to some men that worked at a local tourist attraction that we visited and discovered that they were making $1.75 a day to work long days at a job that is physically demanding.  Basically, one woman collects all of the money and pays a certain amount to the government, gives her workers close to nothing and keeps the majority for herself and her family…and there is a police officer who monitors all of this and allows it to happen.
My friend went on to explain that he is scared for his country—he sees how the authority and leaders in power are corrupt and have little to no intention on making these men’s lives better and others who face similar treatment from their employer.  He explained to me that no one will ever complain or bring it to any authority because there is still some fear in them from the Khmer Rouge but also because they don’t have faith that those with authority will actually move forward with any change.  The government officials are very comfortable with their better paying jobs and don’t want to lose that—if they choose to stand up for what is right they could and most likely will, lose their job and therefore their comfort and livelihood. 
My friend is a very hopeful and encouraging person—but I saw defeat in his eyes.  What was worse is, I had nothing to offer him that could comfort him or bring him peace in that moment.  I don’t have a solution to that or even a plan of attack, because I know how hard and intimidating it is to try to change a system.  Even in the United States, this takes great effort and a lot of people; even then, sometimes nothing changes.  But one thing I rejoice in learning in the last nine months of my life, is that feelings of devastation and brokenness over injustice are only good for a season and then it is time to move on to hope and action.  I don’t want to disabled by devastation and intimidation—so, I every day I am choosing hope and choosing to be part of transformation. 
I hope all is well with you! Please email me with questions or comments and criticism or encouragement—I love it all!  Peace!

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