From Darkness to Light, from Death to Life
Dear Family and Friends:
Our team left Phnom Penh Saturday morning and drove to Poipet, home to the Cambodia Hope Organization (CHO). We enjoyed the comfort of our air-conditioned 20-passenger bus. The passing countryside, conversations, riddles, and attending to the wild driving (or not attending to it) made the 9-hour journey more enjoyable. Though we arrived exhausted, seeing the welcoming smiles of the staff at CHO refreshed our souls.
Our transition from Phnom Penh to Poipet was more than a geographic one. We moved from darkness to light. During our final full day in Phnom Penh, we visited the Killing Fields genocide museum. Though the horrific and systematic murders carried out by the Khmer Rouge ended in 1979, time slipped away as we walked the path through the fields. We easily imagined the cries and envisioned the horrors endured by many Cambodians. This is a dark place.
We utilized our ride away from the Killing Fields for an impromptu debrief of what we experienced. As expected, strong emotional reactions prevailed though each person imprinted their own unique personality upon their experience. Emotions ranged from disgust, anger, disbelief, and deep sadness. Questions such as, “Why?,” “Who could do such things?” “Were the perpetrators punished?” and others dominated our discussion. We ended with an appreciation we cannot fully answer the question of why evil exists in the world. We also considered that perhaps the question is not Why but Who? Who is our refuge, sustainer, and source of hope in times of darkness. The Lord God is He.
CHO’s ministry in Poipet stands in stark contrast to the darkness of the Killing Fields. Chomno, himself a survivor of the Khmer Rouge period, began CHO in 2002 along with another gentleman, Raytray. They have dedicated their lives to ensuring the next generation of Cambodians not only survive but thrive. Poipet is a large and wild frontier city on the Cambodian – Thai border. It grew out of the refugee camps from the time of the Khmer Rouge. Trip Advisor warns travellers not to cross into Cambodia here. Chomno notes Poipet used to be a place of death, now it is a place of hope. After humble beginnings, CHO now serves Poipet and over 60 villages. They plant churches, offer formal and non-formal primary education, provide health education and projects, promote water sanitation, offer vocational training, implement micro-financing initiatives, teach HIV/AIDS education and prevention, and educate young and old in anti-trafficking.
Our team is uniquely suited to offer encouragement to the CHO staff and advance their many initiatives. We bring with us experts in education, architecture, health care, project management, marriage, mental health, discipleship, and development. Tonight we will assemble on the rooftop of the CHO building overlooking Poipet to pray for continued restoration of this city and its inhabitants. Tomorrow we begin our week of service. Please pray along with us that our efforts are multiplied through receptive hearts and sustained through the commitment of willing followers of Christ. We left Phnom Penh with images of brokenness and now find ourselves embracing the privileged opportunity to build upon the restoration begun in Poipet. May God bless our efforts knowing only He can save and restore people to wholeness.
For the team,