Sunday, February 13, 2005

Well, maybe I spoke too soon.

I said I thought i'd licked the bug, but today my tummy's a little ooky. (Dyspeptic, for those of you without kids.) But it's not too bad. Please pray that I continue to regain strength. I have a tough couple of days ahead. More on that later.

When this trip is done, I'll write some sort of retrospective overview. This isn't it. Still, I'm feeling a little reflective today. Indulge me.

This hasn't been the easiest of trips for me. In fact, it's been a lot of work for me and for Dave and Dr. John, the other executive board members who are here. When Asia's Hope started out, it was pretty simple -- one or two projects, and we spent our trip encouraging our brothers and sisters and celebrating what God was doing. Lots of time reading to students, conducting clinics and running around with laughing orphans.

We did all of those things this time, but we have spent a lot of energy and time trying to wrap our minds around the complexities that arise with any type of successful endeavor: How do we make it better? What's the next step? How can we raise the money to accomplish the next thing on our agenda? With whom shall we partner as we grow?

We've gotten a lot done that could absolutely not have gotten done if we had stayed in the U.S. and communicated via email. And we've learned A LOT. But it hasn't felt as much like a vacation to me as some of my earlier trips. I feel like I've been at work every single day I've been in Cambodia -- even on the days when I've had a relatively free schedule. During my free time, my brain has been in overdrive.

Usually, I return to America feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and 100% ready to jump back into work. I'm not sure that will be my experience this time. I've been sick a lot on this trip, and I've missed a couple of the really fun days with the kids that I had been looking forward to.

Nevertheless, every day in Cambodia is an adventure, and I'm entirely certain that I am in the center of God's will. Last year, after my hospital visit, I said to God and to many of you, "I'd return to Cambodia each year even if I knew I'd get really, really sick." Well, I did get sick again. But I feel the same about my mission to this country. And I'd add to it (Oh, Lord, please don't take me up on this...please!) that I'd return to Cambodia each year even if I had the same kind of financial misfortunes that I had this year.

You see, this country, this ministry, these kids -- they're the reason I keep a job that offers me more flexibility than money. I know beyond a doubt that if I died today, my life would have been worth something.

I went to the orphanage this morning. They were having church when we arrived. I put down my bag and sat down at the back of the room. Immediately, three kids scootched over to me, one on each side, one on my lap, and laid their heads on me and sighed. Sophat, a seven year old boy sitting near the front of the room, turned and gave me one of the most genuine, loving smiles I've ever seen.

Last year, Sophat was an orphan. He lived with his grandmother, who was destitute. He wasn't in school, he had to beg, and he went hungry every day. Every day. This year, Sophat lives in a beautiful home with a loving staff and an orphanage director who really acts like a father to each of those kids. He has brothers and sisters to play with. He gets a great education. He has plenty of food every day. He's been immunized. He's safe at night. No one shoos him off their footstep or chases him away from their shop. He's not filthy and he's not in danger of succumbing to disease or to sexual abuse or trafficking. Best of all, he knows Jesus loves him, and that he has brothers and sisters in Cambodia and in America who will care for him and send him to college and who are working hard to make a good future for him. He's happy.

I know that God gave me Asia's Hope because He loves me and my family, and wants to use us for His kingdom. I know that if Dave and I (and many others since) hadn't responded to God's invitation in faith, that Sophat and 82 other orphans would have very bleak futures indeed. I believe that there are many other kids like Sophat and Samneang and Soktheun out there in Cambodia and Thailand and who knows where else that God wants to save, and that it won't happen unless you and I don't push into God's will even further and if other Christians don't step up to the plate.

I pray for all of you my friends that you would follow God's call on your life enthusiastically, even radically. I'm not trying to set myself up as any sort of role model -- I'm so far behind the curve on obedience and faith that I wouldn't dare -- but I've tasted just a little bit of the goodness that God wants for all of his children. I've had the chance to be an intern in the family business, an opportunity to drink only a sip of the cup, and I can't help myself from going a bit beyond politeness or subtlety. I'm begging you to get involved.

Not in Asia's Hope. Or not necessarily. But in something that you can sink your teeth into, that you can invest your time and your talent and your money into. In something that ministers to Jesus by ministering to those he loves. Don't settle for less than all that God wants for you. If you don't have something you feel passionate about, find a passionate, Godly person and get involved in what they're into. It'll rub off on you. I promise!

So, while I might not return relaxed, I think I'll come back recalibrated. And when I begin to drift back into complacency, and when I begin to doubt God's goodness and His plan for my life, I'll log onto this page and read my blog, and I'll look at some of the 2,000 photos I took on this trip, and I'll send another check to Asia's Hope and pray for the day that I can retun.

Sorry this has been such a long post. If any of you are still with me at this point, thanks. I really do love you guys.

Tomorrow I leave for the outlying villages. Gary and I will be sitting under a tree, teaching the Bible to new converts for three days. We'll be staying in a nearby town at night, but I don't know if I'll have email access. Please pray for us. We'll need it.

Shalom.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John. Your post speaks from God's heart through you. I pray that we are listening. Bobbi

diane b said...

John,
Roy and I are prayng for you. I am overwhelmed with compassion to hear what God has yet to do there in Cambodia. I want to talk when you come back.
I pray God's mercy and healing on your body.
Diane

Anonymous said...

John,
What a wonderful post, very moving, brought me to tears ( and I'm at work, that's difficult) :)
Been praying for you a lot, hope you're feeling better. Got to pray twice with Pak and Chien before bed with Kori and read them stories. They're praying for you too, but you know that! :)
We miss you, can't wait to see you again! Hope you get back in the saddle ASAP and get all your work done.
Love,
Amanda and Andy Anderson :)

Anonymous said...

John,

Readin' and prayin'!

I find the emotion of this post easy to relate to at present.

Best
Barry