Monday we left the beautiful resort town of Siem Reap and headed west to the Cambodian border town of Poipet which is located on the Thai border. The 3 hour drive takes us quickly past luxurious hotels & dumps us in a dusty, trash-filled town where hundreds of thousands of people eke out a meager existence living in lean-to shanties and are always looking for their next meal. The trash is everywhere, It is oppressive! Dirty kids running along the street with no one watching them are the norm. Men laying in hammocks often drunk from the night before, and women cooking what they could find for the next meal. Many move to this town to seek work across the border in Thailand. Labor jobs that often keep them away from their children for days, weeks or forever. Children are left vulnerable and easy prey for those seeking evil pursuits. It is here in Poipet where I have seen Jesus on the move for the past decade.
Our Kingsland mission teams have been traveling to Poipet for over 10 years and here is where Jesus is moving on the behalf of the poor, the oppressed and the destitute. Of course He is moving all over the world on behalf of each of us, but here in this poverty-stricken village I have had the privilege of seeing His hands work in ways that can only be described as divine.
Steve and Noit Hyde are the missionaries we have partnered with and they have dedicated their lives to serving the poor in Cambodia. Following God’s leading they have built the Hope Center, 3 Christian schools, 2 orphanages, translated the bible into the local Khmer language and built a mind blowing discipleship program that stretches across many countries in Asia. As glamorous as this job description sounds the realities of their work are unfashionably difficult. They are raising over a hundred orphaned children and teens who have lived through unspeakable trauma. They are constantly underfunded to do what needs to be done to help and educate the poor. They work tirelessly and we come each year to stand alongside this amazing couple and help shoulder the load if only for a short time.
Yesterday our team set up camp in the Hope Center, a sprawling building in the middle of Poipet that serves as a base camp for teams of women who go out to remote villages and teach about nutrition, infant care, care of the preborn and other life giving lessons.
We were asked by the Hope Center director, Vuthey, to teach the teams about symptoms of diabetes, glucose testing and lifestyle changes that can reverse the effects of the disease. We have two students on this team, Kendra who is a senior in high school & Julia who is a junior at UT. Both girls are pursuing degrees in the medical field and took the lead teaching about diabetes to the staff.
Jesus moved in the direction of the hurting, the poor and the oppressed. By partnering with Steve & Noit Hyde and their ministry here in Cambodia we have access to those who Jesus would touch. Those Jesus would give attention to. Those Jesus would heal and offer words of hope.
That is our mission here in Cambodia. Scripture clearly teaches to “look after widows & orphans – James 1:27b”, to “love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:39” & to “act justly, love mercy & walk humbly with our God – Micah 6:8”. We want to live with this mission each and every day of our lives, but we are fortunate to partner with those on the front lines of injustice and poverty for a time each year and get to see first hand where Jesus is still in the business of performing miracles.