Dispatches: Cambodia

girlface Took Highway 3 from Bangkok to Trat, and then skirted along the Gulf of Thailand to cross into Cambodia. A 6-hour drive that took us, it seemed, past a hundred dusty towns displaying the usual fading portraits of their king and having a Buddhist temple as the centerpiece. Our driver, a kindly man named Nu, was careful to clasp his hands and give a quick nod of obeisance as we passed the gilded shrines with their garish gods—drive-by worship at 60 mph!

In one town I noticed a man making idols out of concrete while nearby a concrete mixer was being used to patch the road. But this land is in the bondage of Buddhism, and so the people are as blind to such ironies as the gods of cement that they serve.

Crossed the border at C Y, a crossing used mostly by smugglers and addicts. A casino and a string of tawdry hotels sit alongside the border station, making it convenient for sex traffickers, drug addicts, and pedophiles that come here on “business trips.”

I’m writing to pass a restless night. From my balcony the sea breeze feels good, sweeping over now-empty streets. Only Orion is keeping vigil.

Spent the afternoon and evening visiting little islands where our team have permission from the governor to teach Bible in the schools the Buddhist and Muslim kids attend. They also have after-school outreach teaching English and Bible. The people are so poor and neglected here that many don’t mind their children being taught by Christians if it will improve their prospects. And the children eagerly come because they find people who love them. Yet, it is long, slow work. The Enemy has held this land in his grip for countless generations. Gospel light is just beginning to break the long night. But now the Light is only like the scattered little stars that shine above me.

My mind is crowded with all the ragged, beautiful, lost children that gathered around us today. On the islands the houses are built on stilts to accommodate high tide. All of the garbage and sewage goes into the water, leaving the little islands afloat in filth. On the smallest island, KaKang, there were nearly 1000 people crowded together. The kids were cautiously curious, and some wanted a closer look at probably the first white person on KaKang. Often they would look and laugh. Their toys are crafted from trash and sticks that wash ashore. They live and play in water or mud, and malaria and dysentery take their toll.

crabgirl

One girl was quite good at wading along the shore and pulling crabs out of the crevices. Her friends tried, too, but they gave up without luck. They weren’t willing to wade in, but my little friend, the “crab girl,” was persistent. Clearly she enjoyed the hunt. I wonder what will become of this little girl for whom Christ died? The apparent answer cannot go unchallenged.

Starlight will soon turn to daylight—better try to get some sleep.