How do you write about dramatic events without sounding dramatic? I confess to many sleepless hours pondering what to write in this post. I do not want to be dramatic for affect, I do not want to exaggerate circumstances in any form, and I do not want to inflate the significance of what is being accomplished for this cause worldwide right here with this dedicated team that we have the honor to work with daily. However, dear friends, after being here just over 90 days I am still completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the impact of the crime inflicted upon the people of Cambodia by their very own families and leaders. I am also utterly amazed at the energy and enthusiasm of the current young generation to turn the course of their nation for Christ.
When a nation walks away from the design of God for even a few brief years (Pol Pot era of late 70’s here) the impact is dramatic. No exaggeration is necessary. Pol Pot turned on his own people and these people turned on each other or turned their backs as others inflicted enormous suffering on the most vulnerable of their own – young children. Child sex-slavery was not a deeply hidden away business. It was a storefront, boldly and openly offered LEGITIMIZED business. It was an acceptable way to make a living. In addition, men and women alike, many parents themselves, made their living off the sale of the children for sex to deviant perpetrators who walked the streets without threat of harm. You may say, Pete, there you go being dramatic. I can only say that this is why writing this post has been so hard. It sounds dramatic not because of any emphasis of my own, it sounds dramatic because it is!
And it is still happening today. Not so open, not on the storefront basis, no, it is now underground but still very much available. We have in our recovery house now a 4 year old victim. This is real.
I commend to you a book called “Terrify No More” by Gary Haugen. The story of rescuing modern day slaves. In the first few chapters, he writes of a rescue of young children from brothels in Svay Pak, Cambodia. I have been told that the rescue route to the “safe place” was along a road I now travel every day and passes not much more than a football field from where Debbie and I now live.
Much of the book is about the work started here to rescue children. However, rescue is only the first step. Rescue must be followed by restoration and that by reintegration. Debbie and I now work in Svay Pak engaged in restoration and reintegration as well as prevention.
Walking the streets of Svay Pak can be mind numbing as many of the residents, young and old, are lifetime residents of this community. Oh, the things the eyes of the older ones have seen and their hearts remember. This is what man without God will stoop to and this is why we are here. Sure, we comfort and work to give good educations and establish honorable jobs, but most importantly, we work to be speakers of God’s Truth to a community that needs the hope that can only be found in Christ. The teachers of the Truth were largely wiped out and those that remain need help in the enormous task of being the voice of the Lord in dark places.
This week in our quiet time together, Debbie and I read carefully this verse from Psalm 118:5-6, “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. 6The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
We have come in response to the call of distress. We have come to be part of the answer that will set these people free, and, it is the Lord who is doing the wonderful work of setting the captives free.
Can I also tell you that out of the darkness there is rising hope. I see it in the eyes of the girls in the training centers as they make t-shirts for church VBS programs and bracelets for awareness events, as young teachers learn how to teach the next generation the skills to live differently than the past, as they see their country become something well above the dark place that it has been. So much more needs to be done but so much is being accomplished. Hope is becoming reality for some, soon we pray it will be so for multitudes.
If you are a supporter of ours, we are so thankful for your engagement with us. If you have not yet engaged in support of this work, please consider supporting our work here. The impact is worldwide.