Step into the Light: Azmera CAMBODIA Haven Retreat (Feb 20)
John 8:12 - Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."
With the morning's light, Debi, our worship leader, reminded us all that we are the daughters of a King and as royalty we are called to be bold, be strong, and use our voice to live in righteousness and serve where we are called. Like Esther, we are called to humble ourselves in order to share God's love and fulfill His kingdom assignments. We cannot simply bask in comfort, but must sacrifice self to find our true identity in Him. We then spent time praying for the participants and one another. The prayers of those reading this are just as critical for the success of this retreat and we appreciate the sacrifice of your time. Know that we are one big team working together to shine God's love in Cambodia.
For lunch, we visited a local restaurant owned by a Korean Christian. She is trying to bring light and comfort into a place of wretched poverty. She has two fascinating pieces of art that simply look like ink spots at first glance, but depict images of Christ when one looks more carefully. We were reminded that how we view the world is based on our perspective and how we choose to focus our attention. Christ can be found in all things, particularly when our hearts and minds are focused on Him. As we walked to and from the restaurant with our Connection Circle partner, we prayed over this city and this particular neighborhood. We want these people to begin to see Jesus in every aspect of their lives. We want their focus to be drawn to Him. Please join us in praying for the people of Sihanoukville, all Cambodians, and the Kingdom-minded workers here that are bringing light into a country full of darkness and despair. We hope that they will experience the God of Light and Hope.
After this service opportunity, there was a short time to experience the beauty of this country. Cambodia is filled with sunlight and heat. Some of the volunteers chose to stroll along the beach soaking up the sun, some chose to bask next to the pool, and some sought the cool respite of shade or their rooms. Please pray that we will be well-rested to serve well once the attendees arrive.
For dinner, we again visited the Sandan restaurant and shop. We were blessed by the fabulous service, the delectable food, and knowing that our purchases were providing continued support for the local community. Several ladies took a short excursion to a local supermarket to be able to share some of this culture with loved ones back home. We wrapped up the day with more training and administrative tasks to prepare for the arrival of the ladies Friday afternoon. Despite the concerns about the Corona virus, we still expect to have 34 attendees, Praise God!
Inspiration and Challenges:
As humans, we are drawn to fire, fireworks, laser shows, neon lights, Broadway lights, and even night lights. We often fear the darkness and what we cannot see. We seek out light and the physical warmth that often accompanies it. We flock to sunny, warm climates when the dark days of winter hit. We huddle together around a campfire and get lost in its mesmerizing flames. We give our children night lights to keep the monsters under the bed at bay. We bring light and color into our homes to brighten our lives. Even as primitive cultures, we found ways to take light with us so we could combat the darkness. Yet getting too close to the source of the flame or prolonged exposure to harsh light without protection can bring about destruction. Cambodia is blessed with glorious sunlight, but that sun is also harsh and people find themselves seeking respite.
It is no coincidence that Jesus is called the light of the world and that we are drawn to Him. Like moths to a flame, we have an innate need to investigate this source of energy and power. He shines through the darkness of sin and doubt and reveals the truth and makes our paths clear. He guides us ever forward to a personal relationship with God, the Father. He is also our protection. We know that God's glory is overwhelming and we cannot stand in His presence on our own. Just like moths that fly too close to the flame, His perfect righteousness would be our destruction without Jesus as our mediator. His blood is like a lampshade that allows us to experience all the benefits of God's light while also providing a reprieve from the fullness of its glory. Our hope is that Cambodians will seek our the Son and that all of the workers at the retreat will continue to follow the Light.
While per capita income remains low compared to most neighboring countries, Cambodia has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, with growth averaging 7.6 percent over the last decade. Agriculture remains the dominant economic sector, with strong growth in textiles (many still handwoven), construction, garments and tourism leading to increased foreign investment and international trade. The United Nations designates Cambodia as a least developed country. The US World Justice Project's 2015 Rule of Law Index ranked Cambodia 125th out of 126 countries, far lower compared to other countries in the region. (Wikipedia)
Intro to Khmer:
Sorry/Excuse Me = sohm-toe-ah (long o sounds) (This is used as an apology, to interrupt, and as a polite introduction before a question.)
Thank you = ah-kuhn (This is usually accompanied by a nod of the head and clasping one's hands together at chest level.)