One Cell Phone, One God

I must brag.  I am so proud. 

They call me “Mom” – my 8 teachers who daily I get the privilege to mentor in the Christian faith, train teacher skills, drill English and model before them a life centered on Christ.

They are young.

For the past year, I have spent many hours teaching and hanging out with this awesome group of young people prodding them to read their Bibles daily, act on what they’ve read, go to church, involve themselves in Bible study, teach their students the beauty and the faithfulness of our amazing God.  Most days I’ll be honest I wonder- do they hear me?  Am I making a difference?   Do they want to grow in the Lord?   (big sigh)

And then Wednesday happened.

Unbeknownst to any of us, a local drug dealer in the village had threatened one of our first graders that if he did not steal one of the teacher cell phones at school, he would kill him!

The child stole the phone, delivered it to the dealer but broke down in sobs when he got home and reported to his parents what he had done.

The parents marched their son right back to the school to confess to his teacher what he had done.  The child was mortified, scared to death and knew expulsion and condemnation was due.

But instead, grace ensued…..

My precious teacher hugged him, forgave him, ensured him of his love for him as Christ had loved him in his vileness (the teacher) and vigorously invited him back to school the next day.

This part-time teacher makes $90 for a half day teaching, attends university on his own dime in the afternoon and evening, buys nightly dinner and lives in a quiet corner of a church empty room.  A Samsung phone is a big deal, but His God was bigger!

Both parent and child were stunned…shocked…amazed!   This doesn’t happen in Cambodia.  Stealing would have been sure termination from the school and an unbearable shame to his family.

These Buddhist parents were overheard saying, ‘This school is different, it’s the Jesus school!”

As I was rejoicing in my quiet time for this young man and his Christian walk, God gave me this verse of praise for that teacher,

“ Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12).”

Way to go VanSol!  This “Mom” teacher trainer could not have been prouder!    

 

 

Who’s teaching whom?

Today I told those 8 eager faces (my Cambodian teachers) that we were going to study the ខួរក្បាល (in English this means brain).  Four times a week I tuk tuk out to a local village to lend my love and support to 8 elementary teachers who range from ages 16-27 and minister to 145 students 3-year-old until 2nd grade.   Two are currently in Cambodian university, 2 have not completed high school and ALL have no teacher training.   This has been my most daunting task since arriving in Phnom Penh almost 3 years ago.  While this is my fourth round of teaching at schools, it never gets easier.  As I first walk onto their school sites, most have NOTHING!  Few supplies, cramped spaces, untrained personnel, very little English, but one thing I have consistently seen in all 4 schools I have worked in:  A RADICAL LOVE FOR JESUS AND CHILDREN!  This passion brings me to my knees every time as they pour out their untrained hearts (both in educational models and Biblical understanding) in changing the landscape for Cambodian children.  

In this, they are my heroes.  They teach me.  

To encourage educational growth and stimulation, I taught my teachers this…

1. Teachers need to help their students by stimulating brain growth (I called it “exercising their brains”).   Children need to exercise their brains to boost cognitive performance, memory and thinking.  Just as I said these things, a lightbulb went on over my head.  

Duh!  This applies to my 62-year-old self.  You try learning a new language at 60.  You try navigating impossible traffic in Cambodia. You try driving a moto for the first time.  You try teaching teachers with absolutely nothing but what I create.  You try teaching Biblical applications to non-Bible readers.  After “liberation” day from the Khmer Rouge in 1979, there were only a few hundred Christians left and 3 pastors!  The whole Bible was not translated into Khmer until 1954, thus Biblical illiteracy is widely evident.   Most don’t own a Bible!  Yet, the few stories they know, they teach.  They pray.  They fast.  They attend church faithfully.  They worship.  

These are my heroes.  They teach me.  

2.  Teachers need to help their students by creating new and exciting challenges for them.  (Instead of doing things the same old way, change it up!  Get creative!)  Hmmmm….

Duh!  Again, this applies to my 62-year-old self.  When God saw in His good mercy to give us a passion for human trafficking, he gave us a whole new work.  In 40 years of marriage, we have had many exciting new experiences:  parenthood, marriage ministry, adoption, 10 moves).  But who gets a new call to go half way around the world at 60 to fight the atrocity of child sex trafficking in Cambodia?   He knew what we needed.  What a challenge! We pray daily for creativity in reaching the lost here and rescuing and restoring as many children as possible.   As I watch these precious teachers really try to be creative and change it up, I am challenged as well.  

These are my heroes.  They teach me.  

In this season of giving, if you would like to contribute a teaching item to our precious school, please click on the following Amazon Wishlist link and choose an item:  

If you would like to support the ongoing work we do in Asia and America to fight trafficking of children, we would be honored to have your support.  Tax-deductible Donation here.

9 states 17 different beds 32 presentations and One True God

Two weeks before heading back to the US for a 3-month furlough, I received the diagnosis of a needed total hip replacement.  Unable to change hundreds of details: flights, plans, graduations, meetings, and events I limped with pain through the past 3 months.

We call it the Livingston US Bed tour.

This is how strongly we feel the US needs to hear about the atrocity of child sex trafficking around the world.

We visited 9 different states and dozens of churches where we met amazing people of God and churches who were unaware of this thing called human trafficking.  Oh, they’d heard of it but felt helpless to do anything about it.

We slept in 17 different beds:  good ones, bad ones, lumpy ones, cold ones, opulent ones.  Nothing like the humbling experience of waking up night after night wondering “where am I” or “which way is the bathroom”?

We conducted 32 human trafficking awareness events where we were able to share the Gospel through our work in Cambodia and how God is sustaining us through His Word by His Spirit.  We’ve met in churches, living rooms, kitchens, coffee shops, auditoriums, offices and restaurants.

“And Jesus went out…”

I cannot tell you how many people jokingly say to us, “Wow you’re on a 3-month vacation!”  I wish.

Yes, we got to spend time with our families.  We attended a son’s graduation, moved two of our now adult children to new jobs, visited with Mom, celebrated 8 family birthdays and anniversaries (something we do not get to do when living overseas), had our annual trek to Siesta Key, ate so many good meals our guts are longing for Cambodia and worshiped many times in our own language.

But we are in the US for the Kingdom of God on Earth not our earthy pleasures.

We desperately long for Jesus to be known in every heart.
We desperately long for the end of human trafficking.
We desperately long for children to be protected and cherished.
We desperately long for women to be valued as God created them.
We desperately long for traffickers to repent of their wicked ways.
We desperately long for governments to protect the innocent.
We desperately long for the church to rise up and set the captives free.
We desperately long for the return of the King…

“For in just a very while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay’”.  (Hebrews 10:37)

And so we return to our beloved Cambodia on August 1 and again return to fight the fight.

And get a new hip.  Pray for me 😊

I Know A Slave

I Know a Slave.

An indentured slave sat in my apartment today and sobbed her heart out. As Pete and I both encircled her with our arms and prayers, she poured out her grief and fear, not for herself but for her 8 year old brother.

IndntureThis is the story of S (name hidden to protect her – she is in present danger for even approaching us).

Without parents or family, S left her rural province to take a job with a foreign Madam as a cleaner in a Phnom Penh apartment building. For $60 a month she has boarded at the Madam’s house while working 7 days a week – morning to night – cleaning, washing and sweeping day after long day. No days off. S had no family to take care of her or her brother.  Father divorced the mother for a younger wife and mother fled the village to eek out survival for herself.  Children abandoned.  So S came to the city to earn a wage to support her brother and herself.   She was just 12 years old when she took this responsibility.  Brother lives with the monks in a pagoda in their province. Monthly S tries to send money to provide food for her little brother, but she frequently falls short and has to borrow money.

S is smart, hardworking and trustworthy.  She is also illiterate, desperately poor, vulnerable and spiritually lost.

Fast forward 8 years and S now owes $3000 with interest growing faster than payments can be made.  It may as well be $3 million to her. Her life ahead is a long continuous drudge to pay off her debt while still supporting a little brother she never sees and agonizes is okay.

Until today.Tear

For a 20 year old Khmer woman to take this risk to share her story with us is short of miraculous. Her embarrassment, shame, and fear she will be found out by Madam is palpable on her face. In her very limited English and our very limited Khmer, she asks, “You help children?”

She doesn’t want much….nothing for herself. Just a better life for her little brother. A safe place where he won’t be sexually violated, sold into labor trafficking or hooked on meth with rural gangs. A place where he can get an education and learn.

I (Debbie) come from a country with so many choices. But, here S has no choice. She must stay and work until an impossible debt is paid off and which grows bigger each day. She must stay and live in fear the Madame will find out she’s told someone of her struggles. S will never have a day off to enjoy a meal out, go to school, see a movie or hangout with friends. For now, slavery is her only option.

But, God…

“ But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5)

Jon Bloom says, “These two words are overflowing with gospel. For sinners like you and me who were lost and completely unable to save ourselves from our dead-set rebellion against God, there may not be two more hopeful words that we could utter. “(Desiring God)

There is hope for S. There is hope for me. And it came in the form of a baby sent to earth to grow, die and be resurrected for my sin. Once a slave, now set free.

There is hope for S and her little brother. It lies in the person of Jesus Christ.

Pray for S and Divine Wisdom as we minister to this precious one.  This is what we do.  Thanks for joining us in support of this work.

If you are a donor, thank you so very much.  If you are not, please consider supporting this work.  Lives are changing.   Give when and if you can.  Click ENGAGE above for info.

One Life, One Village at a time.

There is a certain glitter and sparkle in the eyes of child when they look up to their mommy’s eyes. This gaze acts like a magnet drawing them together for the great celebrations of joy in life and through the most tragic of circumstances. Moms and their kids can connect without words. It only takes a look, a meeting of the eyes and all that needs to be said is said.

traffickedOr, so it should be. Increasingly in the world today it does not work that way.

Slavery is outlawed in every country in the world, and yet it exists widely. There remain enormous, almost unbelievable, numbers of individuals trapped in slavery. The most commonly accepted estimate is 27 million people worldwide RIGHT NOW serving in some capacity by threat of force, drugs, starvation, harm to family and other means of coercion. This figure is staggering.

80% of all slaves are sex slaves, 50% are children, many not even yet teenagers. It is possible to get lost in the magnitude of the atrocity and wonder if fighting back can make a difference. Not only can it make a difference, it is!

We have engaged in work where the sparkle is gone from the eyes of many. We have emersed ourselves in a place where mommy has frequently been a dangerous person. Where mom and dad are sometimes the most vile people in a child’s life.

SilversmithTogether we are doing more than rescue kids and more than prosecute traffickers. Together we are entering villages and educating the children for the future. We are establishing micro-businesses that provide positive economic opportunities. We train the next generation of teachers and community leaders. We work alongside the local church to see that the Gospel permeates village life.

Together, we are seeing change. Together, we are making a difference. Together, we are ending the atrocity of sex trafficking one community at a time. You may have a part in all of this.

We want you to pray for this endeavor and if you can, support the work through the SENDHELP! Funding Campaign. Also, by purchasing survivor/ at-risk worker created products at www.Made27.com

For more information on the work, corporate sponsorship or tax-deductible donations please visit aim.radicallymarried.com Or contact us: Pete.livingston@gmail.com or debbieglivingston@gmail.com

We can help you prepare your community, school, business and church be a positive impact for fighting back where you live. Contact www.Made27.com to begin an Awareness Campaign in your area.

Connect – change lives

 

imageOur job is to do all things we can to end the trafficking of humans.  This is a crime we can all find a way to fight but we must fight it together.  Jobs change economic conditions, education changes opportunities but it is the Gospel that changes hearts.  These three need to be brought together to bring lasting change.  That is what we endeavor to do – in Asia, in America.  Through Awareness events and the sale of victim-made goods. Through on the field work with families at risk.

We hope you will read below and see how lives are joining in the battle. We pray you find your role in fighting in this cause. We hope you will consider supporting our work and sharing our partnership with your friends.

As awareness of child trafficking grows and as the Lord sets people free wherever and however they connect.  We share notes of our work enabled through your support.  This is from a person who attended a recent event.  Blessings abound!

“Hi Debbie, I heard you & Pete speak on Friday night and I wanted to send you this picture & a message to pass along. I love this beautiful bracelet, but more importantly, what a blessing to pray for the beautiful lady that made it. Her name is known not only to our Father, but also halfway around the world to another woman whose shame has been undone & redeemed in His presence. Thank you again for sharing! Enjoy your time with family.”

imageJoin us in Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio and California as we continue to share the stories of freedom that come from the work of the Gospel in the lives of people who have been abused and trafficked but are now being restored.  (Contact us for dates and locations)

What joy will fill your soul as you become a part of new beginnings in lives of otherwise forgotten people.

Please engage with us.  If you are a donor, thank you so much.  If you are not yet, please prayerfully consider joining as supporters in the battle.

And please, share this post.

Donate here when you can.

Learning a new language at 60- What was I thinking?

Sell everything and move to Cambodia.  No prob.  Say goodbye to family, church and friends.  Not easy!  Take on the issue of sex trafficking in a rural Khmer village the former epicenter of all child trafficking in the world.  Okay, it’s getting harder now.  Learn a completely new
language at 60?  OH.MY.WORD.words photo

When I contemplated the exotic notion of the mission field at 60, dreams of grandeur settled in.  Notions of lengthy, complex theological discussions were my goals with my new Cambodian friends.  I would wax eloquent with perfect intonations and excellent grammar.  Oy.

Honestly, most days my conversations go like this:

Me:  I go work Svay Pak.

Tuk tuk driver:  blank stare

Me:  Money?  much how?

Tuk tuk driver:  blank stare and grin

Me:  Comprendo?  (Oops!  wrong language- Parlez-vous Francais?  The only thing I remember from 4 years of high school French)

Tuk driver driver:   Smile (another dumb farang trying to speak Khmer)

I have noticed in my new brain-stretching endeavor there have been 4 stages:

1.  Denial- when our Khmer tutor (God bless the monk patience of Mon Sinet) gave us our first list of 10 vocab words Pete and I looked at each other and said there is no way, Jose!  What?  How?

2.  Reluctant acceptance- After a few months in, it became crucially apparent I needed to know some Khmer just to exist here:  How much is that?  Where is the toilet?  Have Diet Coke?  Coffee  sweet milk please?   I dug into those vocabs list and practice conversations despite every time I tried them they either had no idea what I was saying (Who is the toilet?  Why is the toilet?  How is the toilet?  Okay, Debbie get it right, Where is the toilet? ) or they couldn’t believe actual Khmer was coming out of an old white lady like me.

3.  I will do this!- And so I began to practice and study with a vengeance.  I tried all my new words and phrases on my precious teachers and they lovingly just smiled and corrected me over and over.  Occasionally I would get it all right and they would applaud.  I even started dropping in words, phrases and sentences I had learned and they answered back!  Sweet success!!

4.  Determination- one of my new teachers in training is a 50 year sweet lady who was born and raised during the reign of terror with the Khmer Rouge.  She painfully remembers no books, no schools, no glasses, no teachers, no pastors, again I say no teachers.  To have or be any of these brought a death sentence.  After coming to Christ, she began to look flower photoearnestly for God’s plan for her life.  Speaking no English and having never taught before, she applied for a teaching training position at our school.  Her heart for Christ and passion for kids won her that job.  But how would she work with a bunch of American white folks who speak English and she spoke none?  She started English classes at 50!  She is a daily inspiration to me!
Every day we BOTH muddle through the limited language of the other, yet God allows us to communicate profoundly by loving nods, hugs,  sign language and tokens of newfound friendship.  Not able to afford real flowers, she spent hours and weeks making me a gift of paper flowers.  The beauty is real, the friendship is profound.

Fourteen months in, on our last language test, our tutor proudly pronounced we were no longer language beginners, but now intermediates! Rejoice, Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, the gift of tongues has returned.  LOL.   I pray for the day I can have a long two-way conversation with my teacher and share the awesome things God has done in both our lives.

Preahyesaouv sraleanh anak!  (Jesus love you)

 

We are 100% donor supported.  If you would like to be a part of our team of donors who keep us engaged in the work to end child sex trafficking and bring restoration and reintegration to victims, please consider a one time gift or monthly support.  All donations are tax deductible.  Donation information is available here.

If you are already a donor, we thank you deeply.  Our stories are also your stories.  Please share them with your friends and invite them to sign up for this blog by entering their email in the box near the top right of this page.  Thank you.

Their gift today – Freedom!

image
Click headline to read story

Christmas morning made all things new for these girls!  

I am pondering a lot about perspective this Christmas morning.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;  (Isaiah 61:1 ESV)”

A huge thank you and Merry Christmas too to those who are engaged with us in this battle.  This story is your’s too.

Pray continually, Donate when you can.

Ants Take Over the World

ant photo 1
Ants, ants, ants
We have a love-hate relationship in Cambodia right now.

Love the Khmer people, the amazing varieties of fruits and vegetables,  the work God has called us to here.

But,

Hate, hate, hate the ants.  They’re everywhere!  Pete and I have been on a zealous crusade to stop these little buggers from invading our kitchen!  One morning I was up before Pete and in order to surprise him this loving wife prepared his instant Nescafe plus sweetener for him ready to add the hot water when he awoke.  By that time (15 minutes later) hundreds of ants were in the bottom of the cup enjoying that sugar treat- gross, huh?!

We have scoured the internet to apply any and all remedies from old-wives tales to chemicals.
First, we purchased ant cabinets.  (A what you say? Never heard of them?)  These nifty glass cabinets are on wheels and it is where we store our food stuffs.  Each wheel is sitting in a dish of baby powder which ants hate thus the deterrent to climb up the cabinets.  Actually, this has worked!  But only on our food stuffs.   Maybe we should live in our cabinets J

ant cabinet
We clean, clean and clean, close everything tightly, even put the closed trash bag in the cool oven,  but drop any minuscule portion of food and or leave anything in the sink and they are on in like an organized attacking army.  They get from an outside door 6 floors up to the kitchen door handle (10 feet) in land speed record time.

Now our Cambodian insect friends are not the awful big biting kind that would gross me out, but the super small, sneak in the night, can hardly see them variety but they are there.

Scientists relate that there are over 90 different species of ants here in Cambodia.  We think the ANT Operation Headquarters in in our neighborhood.

Great (big sigh).

Thought you would enjoy knowing some of our methods to try and eliminate these guys.  Any wise suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

First, ant spray daily, everywhere.  But you would like to eat in your kitchen and you have to put everything away in order not to be eating chemicals.

Next we’ve tried ant chalk- make a continual line with chalkboard chalk and they would not cross the line.  This works okay, they just take a detour around and up.

Saccharine (like Equal) they supposedly hate and kills them- Not!  Guess the US warning labels on this stuff is true?  How does one pour a lot of these expensive packets all over the kitchen cabinet?

Vinegar, rosemary, bleach, lemon juice, detergent?  Tried all and it works for a while, but they just wait us out until we slip up one minute and BAM!  They’re back!

God has a lot to say about ants.  The New Living translation says it this way in Proverbs 6:6,
“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!”

Hmmmm….consider their ways?     Teach Debbie a lesson?

After all, ants are hardworking, tenacious and focused.  They really are amazing creatures!

When you look at how the ants go about their business, they are very structured and deliberate and never give up.   May I apply these characteristics to my…

Daily walk with the Lord
Marriage and family
Praying for my Jerusalem, Samaria and uttermost parts of the world
Witnessing to those around me in Cambodia
Pouring Biblical truths and life skills into my Khmer teachers
Standing against the sexual trafficking of children!