Sunset over the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
It is hard to put into a few paragraphs all that’s been happening over the last few months. There have been many highs and lows, victories and defeats and many changes. However through the times of heartbreak I am learning more and more how good and faithful our God is. When things seem impossible His presence always seems to increase and bring such comfort and hope.
When praying about what to write about I felt God wanted to me to share his victories here. So often we can despair and look at all the huge problems and all our inadequacies to deal with them; but God is moving here and it's good to remind ourselves of his triumphs over the darkness.
This little miracle has stolen our hearts.
The first little miracle is a special little boy close to all our hearts. He is called baby Victory* and he is now 3 weeks old. His mom Leah* is only 17 years old and addicted to drugs. She has worked outside Watt Phnom (the biggest temple in the city) for several years now as a prostitute. She is good friends with the Hard places Community who we work with. She gets lots of love and support from them, many times they have tried to help her change her lifestyle but each time something pulls her back. From the moment she found out she was pregnant she was adamant she didn't want the baby. Many times we heard of her trying to kill the baby and we have desperately prayed protection over his little life. Thank God he made it through! Thank God she went into labour at just the right time for us to be there, help her and ensure she and baby received all the correct treatment required. From the moment little Victory was born he has been changing hearts and lives; bringing such joy and hope to people. He is completely healthy and perfect and we are believing he doesn’t have HIV. The beautiful thing is that now his mum wants to change her life and is in a restoration centre getting help. God has turned the whole situation around and it has been amazing to watch. We have had the privilege to help look after him and every time I hold him I am reminded that nothing is impossible!
The Riverside in Phnom Penh is where we do much of our ministry.
Another story of hope is about a little boy, let’s call him Esau*. He is 4 years old and is the most smiley boy on the riverfront. His family spends most of their time begging on the street. Sadly his parents are alcoholics and are very poor .Since we have known him we have rushed him into hospital twice where he has been admitted to Intensive Care Unit on both occasions. He has a heart condition which is very serious and starts to fail when he gets ill. The most recent occasion was last week when he was diagnosed with TB and his mum was told he probably wouldn’t survive. We all felt such a desire to pray for his healing and believing God to save his life. We had such a powerful time of prayer for him. The next day our wonderful Khmer friend contacted the mother and we heard he had been discharged, was off oxygen and doing much better – such a difference from dying in ICU! Praise God!
Celebrating Khmer new year the kids at Hard Places Community.
Since working here one of the highlights has been working in the clinic at the boys centre. I love spending time and learning more about each precious child; trying to see what their needs are. Recently we had a little boy come in who seemed extremely withdrawn, heartbroken and hopeless. He was in rags, covered in dirt and lice and was very thin. His body covered in scars of beatings and he eyes just seemed empty. Immediately we knew something was wrong and on further questioning his social situation was awful. So we spent time loving him, washing him, giving him new clothes and praying for him. He then went to speak with one of the very talented member of staff at the centre and he managed to really connect with him and try help him. He now comes every day to the centre and always has a big smile on his face; he has found place where he is safe and loved. It’s heartbreaking that many children have never really experienced true love, only the kind which exploits them. Which is why I feel so passionate about the work HPC are doing. In addition through this relationship there has been such a breakthrough in one of the cases against a well known paedophile. I feel so privileged to work with such an amazing organisation and group of people. Its exciting seeing God use Cambodian people to really make such a difference to these children’s lives.
An area on the riverside where people burn incense and give offerings.
After going to the clinic one afternoon I was sat on the pavement watching some of the kids we know play on the street. Then this girl approached me who was about 20 and just started chatting to me. She said she didn’t usually just walk up to strangers but something inside her made her want to come speak to me, I then sensed that this was a divine appointment (this is the first time this has happened to me). We had an amazing conversation where we discussed all about the difference between Budda and Jesus. She was so hungry to learn more about Jesus and asked if she could come “meditate Jesus” with me sometime. Last week we met again and I gave her a bible and on Sunday we went to church together. She is so hungry for God and told me she wants to bring all her family to church and she loved it. I know that God has plans for this amazing, generous and kind women. I just love how God is moving and causing people’s hearts to hunger for him and that is just so easy to partner with what he is breathing on.
One of the streets near the riverside where there are lots of girly bars.
We have been so excited about our bar ministry! Recently we have made such a great connection with an NGO here called Daughters of Cambodia and they have made a way for us to get our girls involved in their amazing work programme. They are even helping to transport them across the city to their centre. It’s great to be able to offer the girls a realistic alternative to working in the bars. Many girls are desperate and this is a life line to them.
On Friday night, after a wonderful time of worship, we went out to the bars to minister to the women there. One of our team was chatting to a young man who was there. Him and his friend were sat chatting to two girls in the bar who they had been seeing for a few days. When he heard what we were doing he was so amazed ! Hs eyes were open to the realities of these girls’ lives. He really praised us and then he gave us 100 dollars to “bless us”. Shortly afterwards he left the bar alone and his entire countenance had changed! It was amazing that we received such encouragement from someone who was a there to be a customer!
Some of our wonderful family in Cambodia
Jesus is doing so much here in people’s hearts and lives. Even our team is growing and we have amazing new staff, we also have just acquired land in Sihanoukville for the boys centre down there! Things are really moving forward. It’s exciting to see what the next month holds ! On a personal note Steve and I had a wonderful surprise visit from our family. It was so lovely having them here as we miss them so much! We had such a wonderful time together and have lots of lovely memories together. When focusing on the victories it’s so much easier to be full of praise to our wonderful God.
Your continued prayers for ourselves and our team so greatly appreciated. Please pray for:
-Protection as we continue to go into the darkness to minister.
-Blessing on our team as some move down to Sihanoukville to set up a base there.
-Continued openness to God's strategy and his leading's.
-More divine connections and provision for Iris Cambodia to fulfill its vision here.
-For us to become fluent in the Khmer language.
*names have been changed to protect identities. A copy of this blog post can be also be found at http://iriscambodia.wordpress.com/