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From Cambodia to Syria
I received a fascinating message a few days ago. I was deeply moved and inspired but also frustrated as I read it. It was from Cambodia and provoked me to think about what happened over 35 years ago, and what a difference we can make as the year’s pass. The first major refugee crisis to get world-wide attention was in Southeast Asia. As the governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia took vengeance on those whom they perceived as “enemies of the state”, and international sanctions took their toll, hundreds of thousands of people fled. YWAM teams, with little or no experience, volunteered to serve under the auspices of the UN or non-government organisations. They often did the jobs no-one else would do—cleaning the latrines, looking after the elderly and sick, helping children who were separated from their families etc.
In time, the YWAMers gained experienced and the official agencies gave YWAM both recognition and responsibility for entire camps. When that was the case, they were free to talk about Jesus and his power to change lives. Many refugees became believers and small informal churches grew throughout the camps. Over a period of years, the refugees were resettled in host countries and there are now countless churches of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian people in the USA, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.
Back in Southeast Asia, the Gospel of Jesus continued to flourish so more and more people became believers. In recent years YWAM campuses and teams have multiplied through the region with one of the largest beings at Battambang Cambodia. As the current Discipleship Training School comes to the end of their lecture phase, they have begun to seek God about where to go for their outreach and the Lord has directed them to Lesbos, Greece, to help ease the suffering of refugees from Syria and other nations in the region.
As I read it, the goodness of God hit me with force and I went to share it with Marti, my wife. We marvelled at God’s faithfulness and goodness and at the illustration of the growth of the Kingdom of God. But they were writing to me because they still needed 3,000 Euros to make the journey. We stopped and asked the Lord to help us to help them.
Within a day or two, a letter arrived with a gift in it. The small trust who gave it wrote that they were moved by the kind of projects we often support and wanted to give 2,000 pounds for us to use where ever we felt it would do the most good. Hallelujah! (By the way, this doesn’t often happen to us and the timing was perfect.)
When I informed the person who had sent the request to me, they let me know that another YWAM base had given some money too and the two gifts together would be enough for the team to finalise their plans to travel. The Kingdom of God is a giving and receiving economy. GIVE AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN UNTO YOU, PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER AND RUNNING OVER!
It is also a kingdom of growth. The sacrificial service of young people nearly 40 years ago continues to produce a harvest and the Kingdom of God spreads more widely year after year. It is like the vision God gave Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. The Kingdom of God was represented by a stone (compared to the dazzling statue that represented the kingdoms of this world), but it was a stone that was cut out supernaturally, with no human action. That stone crushed the dazzling statue and then went on to grow and grow until it became a mountain and then continued growing until it covered the entire earth.
And that is why Cambodians are going to Greece!
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