2015 Cambodia – Bethany Tweeten

New Hope

This past winter break, I had the privilege of joining a mission trip to Cambodia with New Philadelphia Church. This trip was marked with so much joy and was full of special moments that I will remember forever. I learned so much from the people of Cambodia and from my team members. It was a blessing to see firsthand the good fruit that comes from New Philly’s missions ministry, to see what all this army training is really for! Also, it was it was so good to be part of a team that loves to laugh. I hadn’t laughed so much in a long time. Leading up to the trip, I had been going through a difficult season and was tempted to drop out of missions training. But God knew what I needed and He gave me the assurance that this was something I needed to see through. And I’m so glad He did.

When I look back on the trip, the day that really stands out to me is New Year’s Day, which we spent at New Hope for Orphans Children’s Home. When we first arrived, I felt a bit awkward about approaching the kids. I took a moment to look around and take in the scene: Some members of my team had already jumped right in and had started playing with the kids. As I was telling myself, “Just go find someone and say hi!,” a little hand grabbed mine and pulled me over to the side. He told me to sit down and then sat right next to me, leaning on my arm. He didn’t stay long but gave me a high-five and took off to go run around. Right after that an older youth came and sat down, introducing himself to me. He asked where I was from and when I told him I was from the United States, he started telling me about his sponsor who lives in Florida. While this may sound like a small interaction, it had a huge impact on me.

In that moment, I realized that I was meeting this boy in Cambodia who is able to live at this orphanage and have hope for his future because someone in Florida is supporting him and praying for him. At the same time, I was able to be there in Cambodia because people from Korea and back home in the US sponsored me and were praying for me as well. It was overwhelming for me to realize the way that God uses us to take care of each other in this way. I also felt so honored that God chose me to go on this trip and meet these children. It touched my heart to see firsthand the impact that sponsoring a child has on someone’s life. It changes everything. Growing up, my family sponsored a boy in India and we would pray for him during our family devotion time. Back then, I knew it was a good thing, but it was hard to picture this boy as a real person living at an orphanage and going to school. India seemed so far away. Later, in college I sponsored a boy in the Philippines, but looking back I regret not writing to him or even really praying for him. It kind of became just another bill to pay and somewhere along the line I stopped. I look back at those children now, grateful that I was able to help them in some way. But it wasn’t until I actually met this Cambodian boy that I was able to understand the impact of sponsorship. I saw that it isn’t just us in the US thinking about these children far away, but it’s the children in Cambodia are also thinking about us.

Later in the trip we were able to pray for the children’s dreams, blessing the plans that God has for them. It was amazing to see how many stood up wanting to be full-time ministers, including the boy that had talked to me earlier. After receiving prayer from our team, these future ministers went and prayed over the other children who had been called to be teachers, doctors, and an architect. I looked around and felt God showing me a piece of His heart for these children. I kept hearing, “These are my precious treasures.” It was like they were truly overflowing with God’s love. Even though we went to this orphanage to minister to the children, they were the ones that ended up embracing us, and I felt so loved.

Throughout the trip I kept reading Isaiah 58:10-12:

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”

During our time in Cambodia, our team encountered so many youth of strong faith. Pray for this young generation of Cambodia that God is raising up to be leaders of their nation. Pray that they receive support and protection as they pursue what God has for them. Consider sponsoring them yourself! Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Ask God to give you a greater revelation of the Father’s heart for his children and for yourself. Pray for the continued development and restoration of the nation of Cambodia.

The name of the orphanage “New Hope” is so fitting. After being there I left with overwhelming hope for the lives of these children and the dreams that God has given them. I felt hope for the nation of Cambodia, that God is bringing healing and restoration. I also felt new hope for my own future, and the new year ahead. This kind of hope can only come from a good Father, in whom we are safe and secure. He is our refuge and our provider, the hope of all nations.