It was a balmy night in Krabi. The air was light, and it felt good against my skin. I was sitting alone in the comfort of my room completely immersed in the world of the book I was reading; I was savoring every minute of the moment. I had felt weightless in the confines of the realm I created in my thoughts — far from the crowd and the demands of the world.
There was not a hint of the heaviness that was about to invade the privacy of my imagination. My husband suddenly opened the door without warning, rushed to my side like a kid, oblivious of where I had been before his unannounced arrival. His smile was big; his face bright. He was eager to share what news he was holding in his heart.
“We are going to start a new ministry,” he uttered. My ears perked up, and I yanked myself back in the real world; he had my full attention. “What about?,” I asked.
“Remember the message I delivered at church on Joshua 20, the cities of refuge,” he continued on without a pause. “Yes, I remember.”
“Well, we are going to build Houses of Refuge in different cities in Southeast Asia and make that a way out for human-trafficked children and women or for those at risk of being trafficked.”
“Oh,” my voice barely audible. I paused, thoughtful of what he had just said. I could feel his unease because of my detached response. “What do you think?” he asked.
The questions weren’t coming from a willing heart to serve but to preserve one’s self.
Doubt crept in my heart. I began to mouth questions to him. “How are we going to rescue them?” “Who’s going to take care of them?” “How are we going to take care of them?” “Isn’t it dangerous to do this?” “Aren’t most of these establishments controlled by corrupt policemen, politicians, or some organized gangs?”
All valid questions, but the underlying reason I had for asking them was this: I don’t want to do this ministry. I am afraid of it. The questions weren’t coming from a willing heart to serve but to preserve one’s self. I had altogether overlooked the fact that at one time I actually felt I had to do something more tangible about human trafficking other than writing about it.
I saw Jason’s eyes shift to the side. I saw the wheels of his mind working hard to answer my questions. I knew I had placed doubt in his heart, but he still kept on with it.
Eyes heavy. Body aching and tired. On the day of our travel to Phnom Penh, the excitement I had initially felt for the trip slowly slipped away. My attitude bordered on lousiness.
Our travel was turning into a hassle. We were stuck in Bangkok airport for six hours because of late flights, and there was a mix up in the communication with the Pastor we were to meet for the building of the first House of Refuge in Cambodia.
Jason whispered to me, “We might have to cancel our planned trip to Siem Reap.” Disappointment sneaked into my heart.
Landing at Phnom Penh’s International Airport, we walked fast to the front doors ready to meet Gwynn, my father-in-law. I forced myself to forget about my displeasure. My mind, thank heavens, quickly reversed its focus on what was most important: Jesus’ work for us in this place.
In the chaotic crowd up front that we will soon find out was the norm here, Gwynn’s familiar big smile was unmistakable. He was ready to welcome us. Not long after, we each gave him a big hug. He introduced us to Pastor Meng, our contact, who was about to leave for his trip to Bangkok.
“So he’s leaving for Thailand while we are here. Ha! The irony.” My disappointment smuggled itself back into remembrance.
But three minutes into the conversation, we were already talking about Jesus. Pastor Meng began sharing his testimony and how his whole family came to believe in Him during a tumultuous time in Cambodia.
He called on Jesus’ name with every ounce of faith he had in his crushed heart believing that this Man could help him. There were no elaborate prayers or speeches; he simply called on Jesus’ name.
His big brother was in the midst of a confusing and scary phase in his life. They had literally tried everything to pull him out of the messy hole he was trapped in. He came to a point of hopelessness and was ready to receive death to end his seemingly useless life — until a friend of a friend told him about Jesus. He didn’t fully understand who Jesus is or what He can do. He was only told that he can call on Him for help. This friend who also didn’t know who Jesus is said something that really stuck to me, “Try Jesus. He might be able to help you.”
Such a simple statement of trust on Someone he doesn’t really know or understand. Try Jesus. And try he did. He called on Jesus’ name with every ounce of faith he had in his crushed heart believing that this Man could help him. There were no elaborate prayers or speeches; he simply called on Jesus’ name. He was instantaneously released from his plight. His whole family came to receive Jesus after that. They have never looked back ever since.
By the time his story was over, I had completely forgotten about myself and what I wanted. My feelings of being letdown vanished. I was exhausted and totally drained, but my spirit was filled to overflowing from Pastor Meng’s delightful account of how Jesus found them. I couldn’t, quite literally, stop thinking about it.
What struck me most in his testimony was the lack of questions. His brother didn’t challenge what his friend told him but simply called on Jesus’ name. The hope that he found in hearing the name of Jesus was enough for him to expect healing.
Try Jesus. Try Jesus. In his hopelessness, he found hope in that Name and ran with it requiring no explanation or logic. It not only brought him freedom, but it also brought Jesus to his whole family.
Jesus did not disappoint; He showered them with unabashed love as marked in their lives, in their smiles, and in their big hearts.
I had felt rebuked recalling how I had first reacted to the Joshua 20 ministry, yet I had also felt encouraged because my God has once again proven Himself all-powerful and all-sufficient.
Cambodia is yet to fully recover from its sordid, very much recent past. Amidst the suffering, the torment of what they had gone through, and the repercussions of the Khmer Rouge’s regime, there are many who have chosen to believe in the Man who can truly restore and rescue them. Jesus did not disappoint; He showered them with unabashed love as marked in their lives, in their smiles, and in their big hearts. When you meet them, you sense this perceptible peace in their whole being; the presence of the Holy Spirit’s joy in them is too visible to deny. From those I had personally encountered, I saw how He is all they truly rely on. I plainly have much to learn about trusting God from them.
If there was one thing this trip taught me, it is this: There is no place for doubt to flourish in a heart utterly engulfed with faith in the God who has no match anywhere in the world.
Jesus has been in the rescuing business for many years rescuing millions of people. I should have known He would not let the evil of violating children, women, or men by stripping them of their humanity to go on. I had forgotten that it’s not up to me to rescue those who are in need; it’s up to my big God. My part is to obey and to follow Him as He directs my steps one-by-one.
How favored I should have felt when He invited me to join Him in this fight and to be in the front lines of bringing His Name and His love to those who are hurting from this brutality instead of doubting and being afraid.
With eyes wide open and arms ready to embrace, I have finally accepted Jesus’ invitation for me to join Him in this work. I pray for His constant strength to carry me, my husband, and everyone who is a part of this ministry.