Connecting Hands…and Hearts

Last Saturday our team had the chance to do something different on our off day.  We took an almost two hour drive, squeezing as many people as humanly possible into a sweaty fifteen passenger van.  We had our hearts pierced by the brutality of the killing fields. Then went to a sweet little café called Connecting Hands in downtown Phnom Penh.  This café was not just an ordinary eatery.  It is actually an NGO that trains women who have a history or poverty, abuse, and/or sex trafficking.  They learn how to become baristas, waitresses, and chefs.

The café was cute, decorated with comfy seats and a color scheme of brown and bright green.  The phrase painted on the wall claimed, “Life is like coffee; it awakens your senses and improves your day.”  As we made ourselves comfortable, one of the waitresses in training brought us our menus.  The manager, Vuthy’s cousin, came out to greet us and introduce herself.  She was sweet and hospitable; however, this story is focused on the café’s gentle servers.

From the moment we walked in, these women had captured our hearts.  They were not helpless, they were strong, and all the more beautiful.  It’s kind of weird to walk into a place and know a bit of your server’s past.  Yet, I think for our team, it simply made us all the more appreciative of the women before us.  After asking their names, telling them they are pretty, and eating a delicious meal, we had the opportunity to pray and share with them before we left.  They were so excited.  Even the manager wanted to get in on the prayer.  We each put a hand on one of the women’s shoulders.  Altogether, we began to pray.

As we prayed for the women in front of us, some of them began to tear up.  I saw a few wipe their eyes.  Smiles covered their faces.  Afterwards there were hugs and laughter.  Apparently, we were the first people to take the initiative and ask to pray for them.  We took a picture.  We added each other on Facebook.  Yet, the whole time, I felt it in my heart to share something.  I was filled with timidity and wrestled against what the Lord had spoken to me.  I’m grateful to say that Lacey continually walks in boldness and could not leave without telling them about the love of Christ.  She told them of the Lord’s great plans for them.  This gave me the confidence to share with them that in Christ they will be new creations.  They are valuable and worth much more than their pasts.

We each bought handmade bracelets that support what the café is doing.  Right before we left and exchanged our final goodbyes, I really felt like giving one of the women my bracelet.  This bracelet was a Christmas present—a small copper-colored cuff that never ceases to get the compliment ‘saat’ (beautiful).  I waited and then took it off my arm and gave it to her.  I hope that it acts as a reminder of the unfathomable love Christ has for her.  I hope she is reminded that I believe in her future.

This encounter was just one of many.  We find ourselves meeting and sharing the gospel with people that we may never see again.  Nevertheless, they are each known by God in the deepest possible ways.  I pray that these women will see the goodness of the Lord.  I pray that He will heal their wounds and pour out his love in overabundance.  And I pray that if I never see these women again on this earth, that I will see them in heaven where they will be called my sisters in Christ.

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