Monday, April 21, 2014
Reflections from Cambodia
This is a story of my journey in Cambodia. A glimpse of what I saw - the evidences of evil and torture so ghastly and horrifying that around 25 percent of the population was slaughtered, tortured, buried alive, and starved to death by the Pol Pot Regime during the genocide. The regime was ruthless in their purpose of eradicating and demolishing those whom they believed had been "tainted" by outside ideas. This means that the educated, former military, Christians, and others were targeted by the regime as they attempted to "purify" Cambodia of these people. This isn't a fun or lighthearted read, nor an easy one for me to write. But I felt that it was important to share with you, Bloom! readers, and perhaps help you catch a glimmer of the spiritual battle of good versus evil, of God Almighty versus the devil.
Cambodia, a country ripped apart by a genocide 35 years ago. A land where 80% of its Christians were murdered during the genocide. A land of red dirt, of floating villages, of beautiful smiles. A place where thousands and thousands of girls are sold into sex trafficking, some as young as five years old. A country where street children collect trash and beg. A third world country.
I knew that if you really wanted to really understand a country and her people, then you must stand in her people's shoes when they were at their weakest. I did that in February.
My feet trod the same fields and school buildings where countless precious Cambodian men, women, children, and babies trod. Those same fields and buildings where they were mercilessly tortured and brutally slaughtered.
I touched the tree where little infant bodies were thrown against the trunk, then left broken and bleeding. In horror, I gasped as I saw that the same playground equipment that kids used to happily play on was the same equipment used to hang them from.
I almost tripped over a piece of cloth. It was partially covered in the red mud. It took a moment for the horrible truth to sink in. I shook my head, trying to understand. The staff who preserved the grounds told us that when the rains came, more clothing from the genocide surfaces. I stared. It was a boy's shirt. Did he survive? I don't know.
And the bones. Oh the bones. I saw those bones and imagined these precious people. I couldn't imagine the atrocities that this country has been through - without Christ. The staff go out every two months to save the bones after the rains resurface them. They keep appearing some thirty years later.
Then there were the skulls. My eyes widen as I gazed at them. I couldn't understand how the lady near me was joking. How could anyone joke when such evidences of evil surrounds you? When all around you is evidence of priceless, beautiful lives being taken. Lives of those whom the Creator lovingly crafted and put together.
That afternoon, I asked a friend what was in a particular room of the school. He responded with, "You don't want to see it." I started to agree, but then it felt like God nudged my heart. I realized what the truth actually was: "I don't want to see it, but I need to see it." I needed to see the darkness, the powers of the devil and what his destruction looks like. To see what it looks like when life, like those of Pol Pot and his soldiers, is lived apart from Christ and His redeeming love and truth.
That day was sobering. I cried as I saw the mass graves, the infamous "killing fields", the rags of children whose lives were taken, and the photos of eyes without hope.
I don't want to forget.
Actually, I know - I can't forget. This place, these people are forever branded on my mind and my heart. And I wonder - if my heart hurts and cries for Cambodia, how much more does my Heavenly Father's?
I realized several things during and after my trip:
I need to see. I need to see the evil. It wasn't enough for me to read about the genocide or see photos. I needed to walk where the victims walked, touch the tree where they were slammed, and hear the victory music that was played to drown out the screams of people being buried alive.
I need to pray. Now I've seen it. I know it's real. Whatever God has shown me - whether it's hunger, poverty, orphans, etc. - the need is real. This means that prayer is a vital and necessary part of change, of redemption, of hope.
I need to act. When God awakens your heart and your eyes to something - a tragedy, an injustice, the lost - it isn't enough to discuss it with friends or feel sorry with them. It isn't enough to follow the news stories, wonder about the victims, or cry about it.
Jesus is asking for action, friends! Action!
The Scriptures are all about this. Take a look at James 2:14-17 and 23-26. Look up 1 John 3:18, Luke 10:33-37 and countless others. Do Bible word searches on "justice", "faith", "poor", to name a few.
Maybe you need to travel abroad on a mission trip to serve others and get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you need to raise money to help set sex slaves free. Maybe you need to donate your time, resources, and money to the local pregnancy crisis center or teach Sunday School at church. Whatever it is that God awakens you to, realize that He is also calling you to do something about it and that He will provide all that you need to do it.
God is calling.
Will you answer and act?