2014 Cambodia – Sophie James

A Time for Firsts

He rescued me because he delighted in me. -Psalm 18:19

In 2012 I went to Cambodia for the first time and while I was there I remember thinking, I’ve seen all I wanted to see, I think I’m done with Cambodia. But little did I know, God wasn’t done with me. Our God is funny like that. So while this wasn’t the first time I’ve been to Cambodia, this trip was a trip of firsts; my first missions trip, the first time I’ve danced hip hop, the first time I shared my testimony, the first time I prayed for someone and seeing them healed, the first time I’ve seen someone led to Christ, and the first time I really started to fall in love with who God is. But, it wasn’t a trip of firsts just for me. For the people we met, it was the first time they heard about Jesus, the first time they felt God’s presence and His love for them and the first time they gave their lives to Him.

There is something so amazing and unspeakably beautiful about the moment of a person’s salvation. I don’t mean when a group of people are saved, although that is a beauty of a different kind, but the moment when God singles out one person and speaks to them specifically. To see them hear about Jesus for the first time, to see the change in their face, their eyes in that moment when Jesus becomes real to them. To watch them pray to Jesus for the first time and see as their heart is moved by God’s love for them. More than the words that are said, it’s the change that you can see in the person. There is something so visceral about it. To know that God sent us there specifically for that person, because he loves them. To see them moved to tears as they feel God’s love for the first time. It’s such an intimate moment with God and to be a witness to that moment is a privilege.

Before this trip I had never seen someone in such an intimate, personal and instant way, accept Jesus as their saviour. Even for myself, I don’t have that testimony. I don’t remember the moment of my salvation, I just remember always knowing Jesus to be real. But the salvations we saw in Cambodia happened in a moment. And that moment changes the person’s life forever. It’s something that, having witnessed it, has changed me as well. Salvation truly is the greatest miracle.

There are two salvations from this trip that have really stuck with me. But I’ll tell you about one. Before we left, our team preacher Pastor Emily received a word from God about skin diseases. So the whole trip she had been waiting to pray for someone with this ailment. On our second to last day during a village outreach in Khampong Cham province, Pastor Emily saw the man that God had spoken to her about. A young man with severe burns on his face and chest. Pastor Emily spoke about God as Jehovah rapha – the Lord our healer – and after she finished she invited up people with skin diseases and burns to receive healing prayer at the altar. Slowly out of the crowd up swaggers one young man. To be honest, I found him kind of intimidating. Up close his burns looked pretty fresh. We prayed for healing and I was fully expecting to see the skin on his face morph back into place. While that didn’t happen, as we prayed, God took away the severe physical pain he was suffering as a result of the burns. A cool sensation washed over his body. At that moment, power of God became undeniable to this man. And our team leader Danny led him to Christ. I remember it so clearly. Standing in someone’s dusty front yard, bathed in late afternoon sunlight, surrounding this young man and watching as Danny explains who Jesus is. Watching Paul give his life to Christ and knowing that God sent us to that place, specifically for him. Our God is so big, but at the same time, he loves each of us so much.

Before we left, God was speaking to me about how this trip wasn’t about me. And it’s true, this trip wasn’t about me. But going on a missions trip, seeing salvation, seeing healings, seeing God move in other people’s lives, it can’t help but change you. I saw God move powerfully in people’s lives, I saw Him pour out His love on so many people and He used me to do it. There are so many small moments that have stuck with. And it was in these moments that, for the first time I started to fall in love with all of who God is. I’ve been questioning God a lot as to why he sent me to Cambodia, why he put me on a dance team when I am not a dancer, but I’m beginning to see that even if I don’t understand the purpose, it’s been the experience, the process that is the important thing. Proverbs 3:5-6 says trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do no lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths. He’s teaching me to trust him, to be obedient, to step out in faith even when it doesn’t make sense to me. So why did he send me to Cambodia? Because he loves his lost children and he desires nothing more than to see them brought home.

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