By Faith

I could not sleep well tonight so when I woke up I listened to Ravi Zacharias who preached on Hebrews 12 and before that reminded us the significance of Hebrews 11. I turned on the TV and Christine Caine was on so I tried to watch a couple minutes. She had too much energy for me at 3am so I turned the volume down as her scripture popped up Hebrews 11. So I decided God was prompting me in my restlessness to go read it again for myself and here is what I found:

13 “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been [l]thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them”(Hebrews 11:13-16)

Something does not seem right. I don’t belong right now where I’m at. I can look back on lyrics I wrote 20 years ago and be reminded that I did not feel like I belonged then either. Being a musician at times makes me feel like I don’t belong. Being a Christian sometimes makes me feel like I don’t belong. Being a missionary who is leaving church,career, family, friends and all stability behind to be with a people group whom God has placed on my heart makes me feel like I don’t belong. There is a problem and the only solution I can see is that it’s all for a reason. I don’t belong because this world is not my home. “I desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

At the top of the chapter, it tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) How inconvenient can you possibly get? I should be from Missouri because I’m sort of “Show Me” kind of person. But then again, God has shown me! Time and time again when I have failed and I’ve been carried through not on my own strength. He has always been my rock in times of sorrow. My life is grand and I can only attribute that to the work of His hands. This makes me feel as if I do belong somewhere. I hope if you struggle with feelings of being in the wrong place that you let that take hold of you and give you the encouragement you need.

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Something I wrote on my Cambodia trip last year on this day

We had breakfast at Green Pastures with Kevin before heading out the dusty trail to Takmau. We have been invited to Sattyha and Nimol’s (Kids Club Staff) engagement party. I have been anxious to do these kinds of regular ministry things while we are on this trip. To me, that is what you see lots of in ministry, life happening and you being involved in the daily joys and celebrations.

We arrive at Kids Club early before 8:00 am and the family is up and getting dressed. There are some westerners that we don’t know staying at the Sath house. It turns out that they are The Trotter family (another missionary in Cambodia, Jonathan Trotter is their older brother) It is one young man named Andrew who is 18, a sister Audrey who is 19 and then twins Jamie and Sarah who are both 21. They have all been involved with the Sath family since before Kids Club was around way back when they were kids themselves. This was a Christmas gift to them from their parents, and one they seem to love, a week in Cambodia with some of the best people.

We play games with the boys outside for a while before leaving for the party which is in the same province. Arriving, we meet the Freedom Salon girls and many others as we load in decorated fruit plates from a truck. They will be given as a sort of visual dowry for the bride’s parents. Sattyha is in a yellow silk jacket with the family under the porch of a wood house which has been converted for this day as a party place. They sit around the fruit and the ceremony begins. After we take photos and meet and spend time together over a meal. In classic form, our buddy Poe starts playing dance music and we end the party on the dance floor.

In the afternoon we all load up and take Jonah and Mary all the way into town to see a movie at Aeon Mall (against my will I might add) Theara is enjoying her downtime from work and is just wanting to have fun with friends and family. She has that blurry line like I do where your family and friends are still your job a bit. Nonetheless, we enjoy each others company alongside the Trotters.

Our evening will be spent eating Gco la Phnom (Cow eats on the side of the mountain) which is a hot pot that you grill your own food. We are meeting a fellow missionary and his family Luke and Lindsey McFadden. Luke is letting me borrow his local phone for my time here. We arrive at the restaurant and the cooking begins. As one of the girls noted we looked so intensely at times as we cooked one might think we were surgeons. We sat on the floor on triangular cushioned mats where you can never get comfortable. But we laughed and enjoyed our guest the whole time. Nice hearing from Luke about all of their family transitions over the past six months since taking the leap with his young family to move to Cambodia. They are here to serve Rapha House in whatever means needed.

Sounds like a full day already but we have one more party to attend. Barbara Heng (Kalaty’s brother) has invited us to his one-year anniversary party at his house. They are calling wondering where we are as we head back from Phnom Penh. We show up and have missed dinner, but we are definitely not hungry. Instead, our task is apparently to entertain with silly dance all those wedding classics we have come love. We fill the dance floor with fun until about 10:00 pm when we can fun no more and retire to the hotel, my beloved Tranyka Hotel, for the night.

Day 17

It is Sunday which is truly one of my favorite days anywhere but there is nothing like church in a place where you have heard about their outstanding odds. If 98% of Cambodia are Buddhist I feel like I have been privelaged to meet the … Continue reading Day 17

Day 14

This trip has been full so many surprising encounters and today will be another proof of that. I always tell people that real ministry is normally seen in funerals and weddings. So today I get to attend a wedding of one my favorite young ladies in Cambodia. I am told they start early so we arrive around 6:40am to the spot which is nearby our hotel. Already there a surprising amount of activity. The bride and groom picture is framed by the gate where we enter to a couple acre property full of decorations. We are welcomed quickly and elevated to the front of the line to see the Bride who looks stunning as I expected. The traditional fruits are brought in and we begin to march down the street holding our offerings for the wedding, mine was oranges. We eat breakfast together and I’m seated with the Father of the Bride. Following that is the ceremony which was very God honoring and sweet. So many of these traditions are foreign to me that I appreciate the simple exchange of vows and rings. Then there is mohori music played by an excellent band with entertainers who immediately notice the vulnerability of the western folks like me. They are surprised when I respond to their Khmer question but eventually they figure out I am kindergaten level in my learning. They make me dance and enjoy the spectacle they make of me. I try to be a good sport because they are really funny and talented. The hair cutting cermony is after this and we are again asked to partake in what seems completely different to me. It is all
worth it for this girl who has been a big part of our life in Cambodia over the past years. We are happy for her and wish the best as we leave for our next destination. We are visiting Kompong Tom with H. E. Thavi Nemh (His excellency) and he has arranged to pick us up at big hotel in Phnom Penh. That is what Cambodia always seems to be, stark contrasts; extreme wealth or destitute poverty, the Aeon Mall or a stilt house at the end of the river where no one has ever visited. The midde class which does exist is harder to find here in the Kingdom of Wonder. We are picked up and speed off down the road for Kompong Tom to visit the Bronze Lake Resort. Our purpose is two fold; to witness the beauty of this place and tell others, and to see the baseball team that Thavi is President over. Our drive which should have taken 3 takes about 2 hours thanks to our efficient driver and the comfortable vehicle (first of the trip I might add) and we arrive safely in Kompong Tom. This province is not touristy at all so the retreat center is unexpected. My first thought was that I had arrived in Jurrasic World minus the Dinosaurs. It is the brainchild of someone with the backing to buy it and the vision to see it through. The resort is a beautiful tapestry of Cambodian plants and trees amid classicly styled Khmer architecture. Tree houses on the lake surrounded by water flunes and eateries encased in rich lush gardens. It is the employer for 70 some employees in the off season and many many more part time vendors and support staff in the on season. It is exactly what I was hoping to see as possible place to retreat with the folks that I do ministry with in the future. It’s a place to getaway and focus in serenity and peace if that is something you want. All of that on top of the only baseball team that Thavi hopes will eventually become a craze in Cambodia. They have many needs for these 15 guys who are age teens to 30’s. They have big dreams for these kind guys who are hoping baseball may be a way out of their simple farm town lives.  For a guy who really does not care about sports I do care about the hopeles in Cambodia and I would love to see someone pour into these guys with such tremendous potential. Another cool aspect is that the United States Navy has a troop of Sea Bees touring Cambodia and helping rebuild areas of need. I am proud as a former Navy man myself to see my branch faithfully serving in the country of Cambodia and I am filled with pride for my shipmates! We retire for the evening in our hotel room under a thick pasture of stars in the tranquil night all the while reassured that God is good.

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