A history of genocide, wars and devastation, it’s a wonder Cambodia and her people are still very much alive today. Still the stains of such history are seeing its ripple effects in today’s generation. Statistics have shown that 51% of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 18. And of this 51% not even half get a proper education. Many of them are forced to help their parents on the field, some of them are make it through only to primary school and there are those that are urged to beg and even sell their bodies for a meager dollar or two.
On our second night in Battambang, we had our dinner at a road side stall. Our tables were filled with food, drinks and more food to go around. We ate with much comfort relishing the delicious Cambodian meal and fruit shakes. After we satisfied our hunger, we stood up to leave. Within seconds of leaving our seats, a man in tattered clothing comes rushing to the table with an empty plastic bag pouring our leftovers into it. He scrapped the plates clean. Oblivious of our presence, his only focus was to get whatever food that was left before the stall owner comes shooing him away. I stopped at my tracks unable to comprehend the severity of hunger this man was facing. He retreated to a corner stuffing his face with a jumble leftover.
Regardless of how much I’ve travelled, seen different cultures, traditions, people and places and regardless of how many mission trips I’ve been too, my prayer is that I will never be immune to scenes of poverty, desperation and scarcity. Because compassion starts in the heart and compassion can move mountains.
Our Sunday in Cambodia was spent traveling to four different churches ministering to adults and children. Two teams travelled on motorbikes for over 50 kilometers on a dusty gravelly road. The other two teams travelled by van to the other two churches. These churches were simple, some just under a tree, one church under a wooden shack and one in a make-shift church. Simplicity and sincerity was very apparent. There was no sound system, LCD screens, big pulpits, ushers, leaflets or anything of that sort. It was merely the gathering of His people in a place sharing fellowship and feeding from God’s word. Isn’t that what church is about?!
I sincerely believe that there is hope for Cambodia. This generation of 51% under the age of 18 is a God given generation with God given destinies and futures. They have talent and skills just like you and I – the only thing lacking are opportunities. But opportunities are not far-fetched, it’s coming to Cambodia and I hope to see the fruits of it one day.