Before I moved to Cambodia, I was back home, looking at the beautiful mountains of Switzerland. Enjoying what I was seeing I said to God: „God, this is so beautiful!“ His response was immediate and filled my soul with joy:
When you first get out of the airport of Phnom Penh, you’re greeted with a lot of crazy moto, tuk tuk and car drivers, garbage laying around, streets full of KTVs (brothels) and a lot of smells that reach your nose quickly. Beauty wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind…
Being from a rich/western country, it can be very easy to see the poverty all around you in Cambodia and feel pity for those living in it. You look around and see need everywhere, the medical situation is questionable at best and tons of people are at risk of being trafficked due to their life situation and lack of resources.
Something that Jesus has been teaching me over the past few years is that pity will not bring us very far. To me, pity is feeling sorry for someone but you stay in the same hopeless situation with them. What will bring us a lot further is compassion. With compassion, you see hope in the seemingly hopeless situation, and you go low into that situation with power to bring a solution in love and mercy.
I remember several years ago I had this encounter with the Lord where He told me that He will show me His beauty. A couple of months later, I still didn’t have that „beauty encounter“ how I was expecting it. When I asked Him about it, He immediately reminded me of all these little (and to me maybe insignificant) moments I had with people and with Jesus. He said: „my beauty is found in the little things“. This changed everything.
I’ve been in Phnom Penh exactly for one month now. Every Tuesday and Thursday we get to visit and hang out with the most precious kids. We worship, we pray, we hug and kiss them, and sometimes just sit and hold them. I’ve found myself in moments where I‘ve asked myself: is this enough? And then Jesus comes swooping in with overwhelming love and reminds me: „my beauty is found in the little things“. My perspective goes from seeing poor, at high risk children, living with garbage surrounding them to seeing mighty future leaders, kings and queens, sons and daughters. Just yesterday, one of the father’s of a girl that we get to hang out with came up to us and thanked us. He was saying that ever since we started coming, his daughter‘s behaviour has been changing. She used to be closed off, shy and didn’t want to be around other kids. He said, recently she has been asking really interesting questions and has become very kind. What did we do? Something as litte as simply holding her. Jesus is so beautiful!
My heart beats to see every son and every daughter, no matter the age, delivered from the bondage of sexual exploitation. Every Friday we get to visit the beautiful women working in the bars and brothels here in Phnom Penh. These women are so desperate for real love. On my first Friday I met this wonderful woman working at the oldest „girly bar“ in this city. As we sat down in one of the booths she sat down right next to me, cuddled her head into my arms and just stayed there for nearly an hour. She is not a poor prostitute, she is a powerful, beautiful and worthy beloved one. It is something as simple as just sitting with them where I find Jesus.
This country is full of beauty.
Blessings upon blessings.