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Sunday

The worship style St. John is known for with biblically-sound real life messages, band and vocal music that enhance worship and the message while maintaining a focus on the sacred and encouraging you on your LIFEjourney with Christ.

9:00am* and 10:45am*|Sanctuary

 

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*Children's Ministry options are available for children from birth through fifth grade at the times marked.  Children are always welcome to worship with their families. A Parents' Room is also available if you need to step out for a moment.


 

 

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Showing items filed under “Sandy Hook”

Why?

It’s only been 22 hours since we landed in Phnom Penh, and already we have done so much!  We spent the morning visiting the offices of our friends serving on the ground in Cambodia, learning more about the roles of the LCMS, CWEF, CCMC and ELCC, and the work they are doing to provide spiritual guidance and outreach to several church communities throughout the country.  After a fabulous lunch at Tenle Basak buffet (a few adventurous eaters in the group may have sampled the crocodile), we prepared for one of the most emotionally challenging parts of our journey.

If you are reading this blog post and are not familiar with Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and the genocide that took place in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, I would strongly encourage you to do some reading on the subject.  Knowing the history of this place and what happened to these beautiful people, will provide insight into the culture that we are immersed in for the next 7 days.  Our first stop was Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S-21 prison.  Formerly a high school, S-21 served as a detention center for those arrested during Pol Pot’s reign.  Prisoners were interrogated and tortured.  They were often falsely accused and coerced into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit.  Methods of torture included being shackled, starved, electrocuted, lashed and hung upside down until they lost consciousness, then being dunked into a bucket of filthy water head first to wake them back up so the interrogation could continue.  Several hundred prisoners were funneled through S-21 each day.  Each group was numbered and photographed. They were put into small brick walled holding cells, and were not allowed to speak to each other.  Some prisoners were shackled to beds during interrogation, where they had to eat and relieve themselves.   They were not given water to drink, and very little food.  Many were tortured and murdered in those beds, the stains from their blood and urine forever imprinted on the floor tiles. 

As the tour of S-21 ends, we head out confused, angry and sad about the atrocities that were committed at the prison.  We are only more devastated as we experience the killing fields, land covered with mass graves.  Prison detainees were loaded into trucks and driven out the fields in the middle of the night.  Once unloaded, they were beaten to death with a myriad of tools.  Babies were held by the legs, their heads smashed against a tree, leaving blood, hair and brains embedded in the bark.  To this day, the rains bring bone fragments and clothing up from the soil.  And for me, the irony is that we visited this horrific site on the most gorgeous day I have ever experienced in Cambodia.  The sun shining, a cool breeze, butterflies filling the air, while I am listening to and reading stories that I can hardly believe.  Why did evil overtake this country?  How could 3 million people be murdered in a period of 4 years?  Who could do such a thing to their own brothers and sisters?

In the end, we will never truly know why.   It will never make sense.  We can’t fix it.  But what we can do is listen to the stories, experience the discomfort, and come to terms with the fact that 35 years later this young country is still reeling from the devastation.  What can we do?  We can keep coming.  We can keep sharing God’s love with these people.  We can make a difference one person at a time.  The reality is that pain and injustice are all around us.  It can make us feel overwhelmed.  But God calls us to reflect his heartbroken compassion and longing for justice by doing what we can to help others.  “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25: 40

Posted by Sandy Hook with 1 Comments

Speechless

“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

Posted by Sandy Hook with

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