Thursday, April 16, 2015

God graced us in Cambodia!

Fields of hope with Lutheran Church of Cambodia outreach ministries.

God graced us in Cambodia the week before Easter!

I helped facilitate the first "Beloved Daughter's" Biblical empowerment workshop for women. I'm doing it as part of my work with the Mekong Mission Forum, and partly as research for my Doctorate of Ministry program at Lutheran Theological Seminary Hong Kong. I'm studying how Christian women in the Mekong might be experience empowerment by listening to (often long-neglected and marginalized) women's voices in the Bible... and by listening to each other's (also often long-neglected and marginalized) voices today.

"This is my beloved daughter... listen to her!" Women's Conference, Cambodia
I met with the some of the very beautiful missionaries who are serving in Cambodia - a lively bunch! Christianity is clearly not a Western religion, it's embraced, contextualized, and spread by missionaries from Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines -- and now in the LCC and elsewhere -  from Cambodians to Cambodians.

Waiting eagerly for treats, stories, music, love.

Buddha smiles at the community center where
children gather. Maybe he's listening to the
stories about Jesus, too!

Songs and stories and snacks. It's a treat
on a Sunday afternoon! 
After Sunday services in Phnom Penh, I was invited to go with a group of the LCC leaders to a small village about an hour or so outside of the city. 

In this place, I watched the Cambodian pastor faithfully walking and talking with groups of village people.

A woman whose side had been paralysed since giving birth to a child 13 years ago -- Will you pray for her, her friends asked the Pastor V.

He would and he did. And the next time there is a medical team coming from Hong Kong or Singapore, they will be visiting with, and listening, to these women.

We talked with a group of young men getting ready for a wedding. We could see the beer cooling in a big tub -- Will your Jesus help make me rich? -- one young man laughed. Pastor V. had a good response: Maybe not, but he can guide you to make your marriage be a faithful and happy one. That's a better way of being rich.  (The LCC has a marriage and family outreach ministry)
And then suddenly, Pastor V. and I were called to the side of an old man who said he wanted to be baptized. Now. Today. Pastor V. had met this elderly couple before.  He had told them about Jesus. The man was frail. Last week he said he wanted to become a Christian... but now I can see he cannot wait until we have our Baptism Day at the church.

Someone brought a basin of water. We asked him, and the old man loudly said YES, he believed in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. YES, he renounced all other gods and spirits except God alone.

I heard the old man's voice.
I saw the tears streaming from his wife's eyes.
I felt the splash of water.
I saw the gentleness of the young Cambodian woman from the Lutheran Church, who, after the baptism, together with the old man's wife, used the rest of the baptismal water to gently wash the old man's head, his shoulders, his feet.

Palm Sunday 2015 Asking for new birth of Christian baptism!

"Benediction" washing after the baptism.
God graced us in Cambodia the week before Easter! 

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God! And that is what we are!"  
(I John 3:1a, TNIV)