“Salvation By Grace Alone, Faith Alone and Scripture Alone”, that’s the theme of the Cambodia May 2013 Mission Trip. I’ve heard those words spoken so many times these past few months. We’ve planned lessons, games, songs and crafts around this theme, and yet, for some reason, it didn’t imprint on my heart for these beautiful people until today.
We plan for fun, entertainment and excitement, in the hope that our efforts will be memorable and live on in the hearts and minds of those we serve long after we are gone. It’s the same thing every time, so on my third trip to Cambodia, why am I still surprised that it is the unplanned and unscripted moments that take my breath away, and truly illustrate why we are here.
During our lunch break at VBS, the Pastor of Somkaul village took our team on a tour. We walked through the village, randomly commenting on the quality construction and decoration of the homes, the beauty of the landscape in this area of the country, and as always, the extraordinary beauty of the children. It was wonderful! Then we rounded a corner and found ourselves standing in front of a small home where an older woman was outside doing laundry, next to a cow, just going about her daily business. It was here that the Pastor announced we had arrived at the home of an 18 year old woman, who just last week, had taken her own life. The small, solemn woman standing before us was her mother. You would never know that just five days ago she had buried her daughter… a daughter whose decision to commit suicide had brought shame to this house. In this culture, her death at a time of her choosing, had excommunicated her from the village. And, after sitting with her body for two days, her parents were forced to bury their precious child outside of the village boundaries. There couldn’t possibly be anything worse, no greater loss than that which this couple had just endured. It was then we learned that these 60 year old parents have four children, three of which they have now buried. In addition to their 18 year old daughter, there was another daughter who had also committed suicide and their only son, who was killed by a falling branch from a tree that he was cutting down at work. Three children lost, two of them by suicide. There really are no words!
Salvation By Grace Alone, Faith Alone and Scripture Alone… faith. The six hundred people that live in Somkaul village practice three religions: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The two people standing before me and their children are Christians. So, while the culture of this country may make her wrong for taking her own life, it is my hope that today they may find great comfort in knowing that she lives on in a place we cannot even imagine, and that they will one day experience the great joy of being with her and the other children they have so tragically lost, again.
The 18 year old woman that killed herself last week was a mother. Her daughter is just 2-1/2 years old. I listened as Pastor Fung explained that these grandparents now have the responsibility of raising this little girl with faith. I watched Dion put hands on them and pray for their peace and comfort. And once again, I find that my eagerness to be of importance and give so much to these “poor” people pales in comparison to what I receive from this amazing experience. And I am blessed and humbled by God’s grace in my life.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8: 1-2