I went to Cambodia and saw the gospel. Its image was samped everywhere. We stared into the darkness of human sin. At the Toul Sleng genocide prison we saw the torture tools of the Khmer Rouge. At the Killing Fields we saw fields of mass graves and 5,000 skulls, just a small representative of the over 2 million killed by Khmer Rouge regime in the late 70’s. We met AIDS victims. We walked the streets of the brothel district. We saw the bars owned by Generals that are fronts for child prostitution. We saw corruption, poverty, and violence. I’m barely scratching the surface.
We also saw the glory of the gospel breaking in and transforming that which is corrupted, lost and broken. God was acting out the gospel right in front of our eyes. The children at Rescue taught us about the joy of being adopted into God’s family. Their exuberant worship and dancing taught us how to worship from a redeemed heart. We met Reaksa Himm, Killing Fields survivor who returned to Cambodia to forgive his family’s killers and plant churches around Siem Reap. We met Kim Bui and heard about evangelism among unreached fishing villages. Pastor Chantha and his church in the mob-controlled brothel district taught us bravery and incarnational living. The stories of former brothel owners and traffickers who are now members of his church taught us of the transforming power of the gospel. At Bloom Café, girls who had been trafficked are trained as elite bakers and cake decorators. At Daughters, girls sew and create beautiful things. Where sin had destroyed these girls, God has created them into something beautiful, and they now create beautiful things. In a million beautiful ways, God was showing us the gospel all over again.
I saw both the horror and darkness of human sin and the shocking power of God for transformation. I learned In Cambodia that I had badly underestimated both. We are far worse off than imagined, and God’s power for redemption dwarfs our wildest dreams. As Brian McConaghy kept pointing out, it’s all Jesus. Cambodia is his redemption project. Jesus loves Cambodia and Jesus is redeeming Cambodia.