A few days ago we had a birthday party for my son Paul. He got wonderful gifts and had most of his friends come and play to their hearts content. After the party the group of 10 year olds could only manage to eat one cake so we had another full cake remaining. Why don’t my son and I go out at night and give big pieces of cake away to poor street kids. I asked my son and he thought it was a good idea. So at night we headed out.
Over the last two days I met two people who reminded me of what it was like for me to communicate with others more than 15 years ago when I first came to Cambodia. I believe that one of the biggest barriers to successful ministry or business is simply found in language ability. The ability to speak to someone in their own language can never be substituted.
What makes a superhero? Of course, in our fantasy world, the most important thing is the fancy costume, huge muscles and tights. But all superheroes have characteristics which make them amazingly above the rest, almost super-human. Here at Words of Life Ministries we have two superheroes who have worked tirelessly for 80 kids in Kracheh Province. Dan Groves and Heidi Petersen. Dan and Heidi have spent the last three years living with 80 kids.
From 1975 till 1998 the elite of the Khmer Rouge built their homes perched on the Dongriek mountains looking over Cambodia. From the cliff face it is a 400 meter drop down to where the people live. This mountain border forms the border to Thailand and Cambodia. For centuries this cliff face has been the site of wars and bloodshed. From this perch, the Khmer Rouge also planned their conquest of Cambodia and ruled over the murder and starvation of some 40% of its population.
One of the families of “Orange village”, the family of Narin and Srey Pouw with their four children, is facing a dire need. They are desperately poor and have no cash money what-so-ever. Srey Pouw is sick. She went to a doctor a few months ago and they told her she has a blood disorder and will die soon. She has no money for treatment and the doctors told her she would not survive even if she did have money.
David is a guy who has every excuse in the world to just take it easy. Few of us have had the difficulties in life that David has. Few of us can barely imagine how hard life has been for David. Yet David knows who he is in Christ and he is grateful for the life that Jesus has given him. He devotes all of his effort and work for the purposes of the Kingdom of God.
In Cambodia, most people (some 80%) are rice farmers. Rice farming, in Cambodia, is very labor intensive, and requires cows for plowing the fields. If a family does not own their own cows for plowing a field, they have to rent them from another family. The rental cost is usually 50% of the harvest. That means if you do not own your own cows, you automatically will lose 50% of your potential harvest. If we just gave a cow to a family though, they would likely sell it for cash. So we decided we would not sell the cows to the family, but we would loan it to them to use. The initial cow always remains the property of “Cows for Cambodia”. We would then pay the family an “annual fee” for taking care of our cow. That annual fee is the offspring for the year. Native cows in Cambodia are highly resistant to disease and have a calf every year like clockwork. Therefore, they get to use the cow free of charge, then they can keep their first calf for themselves. The second calf (second year) we keep as a “usage fee” for the use of our cow for two years. The third they keep, fourth we keep, and on and on. The asset keeps growing and the benefit to the people keeps growing.
We were in an exclusive zone next to the Thai border were access was limited. What shocked me further was that most of the people, hundreds of them, that were just hanging around were children. Their parents were off trying to find work and the kids have no choice to just wait, often for days for the parents to come back.