Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ordinary extraordinary

This morning, in a nondescript house on ordinary street in Phnom Penh, a group of children began their day in a very ordinary way. They brushed their teeth, combed their hair, got dressed and ate an unremarkable breakfast. They walked to school, greeted their teachers, sat down at their desks and began their lessons.

Today, they will experience a typical school day – math, reading, recess – and return home, greet their parents, change into play clothes and enjoy a game of soccer or badminton before dinner. At dinner, they will fold their hands and pray and eat an average meal.

After dinner, they will do some homework and maybe play a few games before family devotions, pajamas and bed. Their parents will kiss them gently, tuck them in and wish them sweet dreams.

What makes this ordinary scene extraordinary is that, only a few short months ago, these children were orphans. Living on the street or with some distant, uncaring relative, they spent their days looking for food or working hard in the fields. In constant danger of being beaten or abducted and sold away into a life of unimaginable horror as a sex slave in a dingy Phnom Penh brothel, these children’s hearts were as empty as their stomachs. No education. No medical care. No love. No hope.

Today, these children are thriving in the loving home provided for them by ordinary people like you. Given the stability of a real family with a real mother and father, these children don’t have to worry about protecting their younger siblings from gangs. They don’t have to steal food or hide from would-be abusers.

These children now dream of being teachers and doctors and lawyers and pastors. They know that they will be able to finish school and go on to college if their grades permit.

Unfortunately, many other children in this country are still living on the streets in unsanitary, unsafe conditions. Their futures are uncertain, their dreams out of reach. Each of these orphans is as precious to God as your child or mine. Each of these orphans has the potential of personal greatness. When I see these kids begging on the street corners or digging through the trash heap, I wonder, “Does one of these kids have hidden deep inside of her the cure for AIDS? Given the correct opportunity, could this little boy be his country’s Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr.? What great symphonies or rock anthems die undiscovered each day as children across the world succumb to the ravages of poverty, corruption and abuse?

It doesn’t take much to make a difference, to stand against evil and injustice, to proclaim to the lost children of the world that, despite all evidence to the contrary, God is good, his kingdom is advancing, the darkness is giving way to the dawn, and that God’s people have love to spare. I hope that, even if I have accomplished nothing else with this journal, I’ve made credible the claim that anyone can do this. Anyone can have an extraordinary life. Anyone can choose to become an advocate for the poor, a representative of the Kingdom.

Thanks for all of your support. I love you.


Anonymous said...

amen and amen, if more of us could meet some of these wonderful kids, so they were real flesh and personalities, our vision and lives would quickly change. Just because we can't change all of the worlds problems, doesn't mean we can't touch and change one or a few of these kids lives forever. Consider going , consider giving, consider adoption, your life will taken on new, true meaning. Been there, done that, no regrets, tons of joy. Dad

John McCollum said...

Thanks, Dad.

Anonymous said...

Good to hear that you're on your way back home, John.

The children..........oh, the children......

Thank God for all the children...of the world....

Have a safe and wonderful and beautiful home-coming.

Grace upon Grace.