A few days ago I was going around Poipet. I was on the prowl. I regularly move around the city, in back alley side streets and in places where it is hard to go. I am looking for the people and praying as I go to see how God would use me to help people. By doing this, last year I found 3 flooded schools and fixed them. I want to be as close to the people as I can. Down a horrible road I could see smoke rising in the distance. I was curious and drove with my wife to see. It was a garbage dump. Now, if you take a picture of any garbage dump (even in the USA) you can make any picture look tragic, poor and destitute. What caught my eye were the children. Adults can choose to dig around in the garbage, but kids can’t, they are usually sent there by their family.
What can I do? I don’t know. I know that simply giving a bag of rice and a bottle of soy sauce (the traditional donation to poverty in Cambodia) will never change anyone’s life. Wheels in my mind are turning. Only a mile away from this site we are presently building the Imparting Smiles Hope Center, it will be a center with two key focuses: women and children. Secondly, all the government officials are my friends. The dump is not managed, nor is it in a good location. I think my government friends will respond to pictures like this as well. I am sure this will not be the last I see of this boy.
What does this have to do with Christmas? Baby Jesus, wise men, shepherds, Christmas trees, snow, fruitcake (specifically Collin Street Bakery Deluxe fruitcake from Corsicana, Texas; yummy!. . . oops I digressed). We know the actual event of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. But the meaning of Christmas is so much more; it is the very heart of God for the restoration of man to himself. Consider what Jesus himself said,
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46, emphasis added).
For many people, Christmas is just another day. Poipet is not all bad, but this boy sure needs a better life. On this Christmas I will remember this boy. What do you think would be a more meaningful celebration of Christmas? A turkey and ham dinner followed by a worship service at church, or making a difference in the life of a boy? From your answer, you will probably find the real meaning of Christmas.