“God is Awesome!”
“A humbling experience – we were so humbled to see how God used us.”
“All because of God’s grace”
These and similar remarks were made by the short-term missions team members who went to Svay Pak, Cambodia, from January 5 to January 14. The trip consisted of 9 members from Onnuri English Ministry – Pastor Joel, Jamie, Julie, Jason, Ilyoung, Elisa, Yohan, Amy, Abby and our honorary member, Jocelyn. Cambodia is a country that has suffered from genocide, a poverty stricken country, that is also identified as a source, transit, and destination for child sex trafficking. The team worked with Agape International Missions (AIM), an organization that helps prevent child sex trafficking in Cambodia and restore hope to its victims.The purpose of this mission was to give joy to the abused girls in Agape Restoration Center, to minister to the kids at Svay Pak through Vacation Bible School in Kid’s Club and Rahab’s House, to disciple to the teachers in Rahab’s House. 100% of these children are vulnerable to trafficking and 50% of them have either been trafficked or were being trafficked while we were there.
We threw a party for the restored girls that Saturday (January 7). Agape Restoration Center especially requested that the team do this for the kids because they had been through tough times. For these kids, even something small like this would be meaningful to them, something that can somehow brighten up their day. When we arrived, we were given a tour of the premises. We walked through their rooms and classrooms. We met the teachers and housemoms that they live with. The counselors were all trained and the facilities were all equipped to aid in the restoration process of these girls. After the tour, we were directed to the dining hall to get the party started. We were surprised that it is not only us who came prepared. The girls prepared a Cambodian dance number for us – a Cambodian blessing dance. Indeed, we were captivated by their grace while they danced. After their turn, we also showed them two skits, one which portrays more of our individual selves and at the same time showcases something about the Korean culture. The other, the more important one, is a skit that communicates a powerful message – that despite whatever circumstance have happened in the past – that they are forgiven, they are beautiful and they are loved. We believe the Spirit really used the skit to speak to these children to remind them that they are indeed forgiven, loved and beautiful. It is amazing how God works at this time, the restoration that He brings about in this community. A lot of dedicated individuals act as administrators, teachers and housemoms to these girls to help them; to restore them. Thank God for these devoted workers for Christ. During our time there, we also played games with them, laughed, and just had a good time! Indeed, it was a joyful afternoon and we can feel God’s presence with us during that time…
For the Vacation Bible school, we prepared Bible lessons which were delivered through skits and Pastor’s message. We also sang songs with motions, played games, made arts and crafts, etc. The children were very enthusiastic in singing the songs – Jesus loves me, Father Abraham, Making Melodies, God is good, Deep, My God is so big. It is so heartwarming to see them be enjoying the songs – Absolutely Nothing and Today is the Day.You can see their big smiles as they jump up and down while singing and dancing along these songs. It is as if these songs reverberate within them that they can’t stop dancing and singing them. After the worship, a skit was presented. Throughout the message, the children were very attentive in listening and watching the skits. Amazing how skits can communicate across people of different language and culture. They reacted well and were listening carefully to the skits. Each day we had different lessons prepared:
Day 1 – God is good. Satan is bad (Black theme)
Day 2 – I am forgiven. I am beautiful. I am loved (Red theme)
Day 3 – Jesus Power (White theme)
Day 4 – God, change me (Green theme)
Day 5 – No more tears in heaven (Yellow theme)
Pastor Joel made them remember the tag lines for each day. Now, when you go “God is good” they no longer respond with “all the time” but instead “Satan in badddd!!!”. I guess they really got the message!
Indeed, we had an exciting time with the many children who came to Kid’s Club and VBS. About 80 kids attended the Kid’s club in the morning and about 120 kids attended the VBS in the afternoon. It was wonderful to see them respond with enthusiasm to the Bible lessons and skits, songs, games and crafts. We are grateful to our translators, the disciples and the whole team in Rahab’s House who were all a great help in teaching the children, singing with them, and doing anything they could.
For the discipleship, the team ministered to the teachers/disciples in Rahab’s House. As most of the teachers/disciples are new Christians they hunger for more spiritual food. It is inspiring to see them – committed individuals who willingly share their time, talents and skills, to be used by God for the advancing of His kingdom. They were so happy and they feel so blessed because this time, not only the kids, but they themselves grow in their walk in God. We went through various lessons to help them minister and share their faith to others.
Day 1 – Assurance of Salvation
Day 2 – God’s attributes and how we see and respond to Him
Day 3 – Witnessing and Fellowship
Day 4 – Defeating temptation and being obedient
Day 5 – Living a spirit filled life
During the discipleship time, we can honestly see that they were so eager to learn more about Christ. Not only that, you can see that they have the passion to serve, to love and care for the community around them. It is clearly seen that most of the disciples were young, but they think maturely. They also have the heart and attitude to want to learn about God in a more intimate way – that is just a great inspiration to the whole team. The disciples always had high energy and were zealous to learn more about God’s amazing love.
(yes…this is how p.joel “disciples” his disciple)
We were greatly touched by the Cambodian believers in Rahab’s House. While this institution where we had our VBS (which also serves as a school on weekdays and church on Sundays) is quite young, and although the believers there are young in faith, you can see their sincerity, they thirst for God’s word, they cry out to God Almighty wanting to be refreshed and be fed more. In addition, even if some of them are not fluent in English, they are very active and participative and they really want to get the most out of the discipling session. It is really something to be thankful for.
Last, but by no means least, we extend our deep thanks and appreciation to the Agape International Mission, the pastor, staff and disciple in Agape Restoration Center and Rahab’s House. Thank you. To our dear partners, thank you so much. Your provision and prayers for our team were surely not in vain. Not only were the kids and staff in Cambodia blessed, but we, the whole team were truly blessed. Our trip to Svay Pak, Cambodia was truly God ordained. While we were out there, we learned that Svay Pak was the #1 town in the world for children to be abused. Well, greater the oppression, greater is God’s heart and we tasted a little bit of it. It was an emotionally and spiritually powerful trip and we were so humbled to see how God used us. We thought we were sent to bring restoration upon their community, and we were, but he was also sending us out there to restore us. God is goooood…
We thank God for giving us strength and wisdom throughout this mission trip, for sustaining us and seeing us through. The schedule was very tight. We had the party at Agape Restoration Center on Saturday, attended the church service and interacted with the community there on Sunday. From Mondays through Fridays, we departed early at 7am for the VBS and discipleship. We were able to witness the brick factory there. (This is where the kids in the Kid’s club work in order to receive meager salary to sustain their living.)
Throughout our stay in Cambodia, we saw how people in Svay Pak live their daily lives and we realize how blessed we are. That is why, we hope that you put into good use whatever God’s gift is for you. Share it with others and bless them.
To each of you who read this, first of all, thank you for following our journey and covering us in prayer. But one thing that we would want to leave with you; we would ask you to prayerfully and seriously consider a short-term mission trip; not just because it is great to visit another country and serve your fellow brothers and sisters but truly be able to experience the life-changing heart of Jesus as you see the Lord work, and may your heart yearn for eternity with Jesus even more than ever.