When I was a little boy, pre-school age, I used to love to be in the kitchen with my grandma. We called her “Ouie” but that is another story filled with fun, but not now. Right now I want to focus on the joy I used to have to be with her in the kitchen. As I think back, I loved being there with her because when she was in the kitchen it usually meant great treats in the works. I can actually remember during one of her visits to our home making the decision to not go out and play with the neighborhood kids because Ouie was making her way to the kitchen with a bag that looked like it contained chocolate chips. I was at least going to investigate what she was up to before heading outside. Sure enough, I caught a glimpse of the ingredients coming out of the grocery bag and I quickly forgot the call of the outdoors.
Interesting to me is to think back on what drew me to my grandmother’s side. At that early age, I was not thinking, “wow, this lady loves me. She has my best interests in mind all the time.” No, that would have been a level of critical thinking that I just did not have yet. But, I did think, “Wow, this lady loves me. She makes great stuff that I like.” At this stage of my life it was all about me. I did not understand the depth of commitment that compelled Ouie to go to such lengths to demonstrate her love for me. I just knew she gave me good stuff in a measure that exceeded what my Mom or Dad might let me have when she wasn’t around to spoil us.
One day, I remember it oh so well, she was melting some chocolate chips on the stove. I was at my place sitting on the counter closer to the stove than she had told me to sit and when she lifted the pan from the burnt orange burner on the stove she said, “Now don’t touch that, it is HOT!”
Guess what I did next? I can look at my hand all these years later and still remember well the lightening quick pain that shot through my entire body as my hand came away from that burner with the crescent shape of the rings clearly marked on my little hand. I have never come close to making that choice again. I learned “first hand” that stove burners are HOT.
As I ponder this event from my early life I wonder what kept me from being obedient to Ouie who I knew loved me? Why had I so quickly disobeyed her direct guidance? Sure, easy to chalk it up to childishness but is that all there is to it? I think there is more.
You see, I did not understand love at that time. Not understanding it did not keep me from experiencing it but it did keep me from understanding how it works. Where it comes from and how it directs my path. At that stage of life, I thought love was about getting something. If someone, in this case Ouie, loved me she gave me stuff. End of love story. But not really.
Real love is so much deeper than that. Love is about a commitment that, if I had been a deep thinking 5 year old, I would have thought, “Now why does this woman who loves me want to keep me from touching something so inviting? What could be her reason for keeping me from something that looks like fun?” Not me, not at 5 years old. Ouie told me that because she knew the outcome before the event. She warned me of the eventuality of touching that hot burner and she cared enough to say “NO.” Seems like a biblical example of love to me now.
God is the same way. Before I understood love, God was loving me. Before I knew the pain of disobedience God was loving me. Before I knew to ask for forgiveness, I was forgiven. Scripture tells us in Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (ESV).
That brings me back to Ouie. She is the first example of love that I remember in my life. God placed her in my life for me to learn about love. When I touched that hot burner, I learned about love. The very person who advised me not to touch it was quickly holding me tightly in her arms and working to comfort and care for me. She did not cast me aside for disobedience. She did not quickly pull out a ruler to spank me (though that did happen on a number of other occasions). She knew my pain and that a lesson was being learned but right then, at that moment, what I needed most was love. And I got it from my Lord through Ouie.
This is a blog about life and work in the field of ending sex-trafficking. Specifically, this is a blog about our work where we are presently engaged in Cambodia. So how does that life event fit this cause?
This is a country with very few “Ouies”. An entire generation of children has been raised up with parents, relatives, neighbors and other adults who not only fail to protect, they often have been the inflictors of pain. They have not had the learning experience of love to even conceptually understand it much less believe there is a God who loves.
Let me be careful to avoid misleading. It is not knowing that activates love but it is knowing that activates understanding. The fact is God loves me and you even if I don’t know it. But understanding that has changed my life decisions. I had many “Ouies” in my life.
Here, in the world of sex-trafficking, young people don’t see any “Ouies”.
That is why we are here. That is why missionaries are sent. Sometimes we spend a lot of time even on the mission field focusing on the rules of faith when we need to focus on the purpose of faith. We need to help people here and wherever we are – wherever you are – understand that, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 ESV).
We are in Cambodia; we are in this cause to show the love of Christ to a generation that has few examples. We are here to help them to be transformed by knowledge to activate understanding so that it becomes action. So that a new generation will grow up with “Ouies”.
If you support our work here, we are so very grateful. If you don’t yet support our work, please consider a monthly gift to keep us engaged in this work. We have been called to this I am certain. Are you perhaps among those called to send us?
Perhaps your church would find a co-mission by partnering with us with monthly support or even your business might want to be aligned with the work of the Gospel to end sex-trafficking of young people. Click a link and find out how you can be a part of sending us.
Thank you to all my “Ouies”. Your lights shine bright in my life.