International Member: Mandy Lee (Cambodia)
God granted me my third encounter with him in the mission field. All started with his naughtiness…
I went with a short-term ministry team to Koh Kong Province in the southwestern part of Cambodia in August, 2017. During our last two days in Paklong, I met a boy again, who was about 11-year-old. His sudden appearance gave me an unexpected joy as he has not joined our church activities in the past few days.
I first met this naughty boy who was bullying a kid in August, 2016. I signaled to him not to do that. He has an unyielding appearance but a childlike heart to stop and obeyed. He was very interested in playing table tennis which we have, so I lent it to him to play for a while. These interactions with him have deeply impressed me. After that, I only passed by him several times, but it turned out that God has a better purpose.
This was our third encounter. Due to language barrier, I never have a chance to learn about his story. Thanks to the local fellow pastor who asked him how things have been with him lately, we then came to know that his parents have passed away already. He lived with his grandmother in the monastery since he was very small and he was going to become a Buddhist monk soon. I was sad and anxious at that point. I have never imagined that he has such a bitter experience. Perhaps cases like this are very common in Cambodia, and are occurring in other parts of the world too. However, this boy, whom I was informed of his background, was a real person standing in front of me at that moment. As we were going to leave soon, I didn’t know what to do and just told him that the day after would be our last day with that church and hoped that he would come. We talked about his story in our sharing time that night. As I and a co-worker from Hong Kong have witnessed the whole process together, so our feelings were especially strong. I turned over in my mind, what I should say to him when I saw him again. I concerned about his life and his future direction.
Thanks for God’s caring! Against all the odds, we met him again the next day. He was loitering outside the church a few minutes past 10 am. However, we could not have a long talk with him as we were going out in two groups for evangelistic outreach and visit. Besides, I wanted to wait for my co-worker from Hong Kong so that we could experience and witness our encountering with him. I therefore asked him come back after school at 5 pm. At last my co-worker from Hong Kong, the local co-worker interpreter and I have a chance to start our dialogue with this little boy.
By then we realized the reason why he wanted to become a Buddhist monk. He thought that by doing so, he could accumulate good fortune for his late parents. When we asked if he missed his mum and dad, he burst into tears immediately. I shared the pain and grief of this little boy that I could not hold back my tears. He bore a lot of hardships alone and had a lot of unanswered questions. At a moment like this, all I could do was to be with him, as it was said “weep with those who weep”, letting him know that someone understood his helplessness, pain and grief. In fact, it was not his wish to be a monk. We shared with him the love of Jesus Christ and told him it was the Heavenly Father who sent us to him. We also told him that he could make a choice for his life and he always has a way out, and that everyone should have a dream for his life. We encouraged him to seek help from the church.
After a brief dialogue, he no longer wanted to be a monk and would go home to tell his grandparents about his decision. However, I worried that his family might force him to go to the monastery to study since the family was poor. So, I asked him if he has any financial need. His answer was no, but he indicated that he lacked a schoolbag and a pair of slippers. To a parentless child, what seemed to be insignificant stuff could be his long-awaited desire. Before we said goodbye, we took him to the market to buy a schoolbag and a pair of slippers of his choice. In future when he looks at these things, he will remember some elder brothers and sisters, who were Christians, did come to care for his life and his growth.
The short-term ministry team could only take a brief stay at a place each time. All we could do was to take the time to share God’s love as much as we could. We truly believe that only God can continue to take care of and protect him after our team left Paklong.
P.S. After half a year, I have a chance to visit Paklong again and enquired about this boy. For some unknown reasons, he did not become a monk. Thanks be to the Lord, our God who alone does wondrous things!