2015 Cambodia – Janis Pok

The Father’s Heart

When I first heard that I would be going to Cambodia, I was so excited, especially because it was my first ever New Philly missions trip. But as the departure date grew closer, my excitement started to fade. At some points, I even felt like I didn’t want to go on missions anymore. I felt inadequate as the youngest member of the team and thought that I could not contribute much. I felt awkward during our team meetings. As there were so many outgoing people on the team, I felt like it was sucking out all my energy. Immersed in a busy schedule of finals and Emmaus (my college campus ministry), I felt so unprepared and unready. But, in the midst of all these crazy thoughts, I realized that this made room for God’s grace to become even more evident and for me. He was inviting me to rely on Him wholeheartedly, instead of trying to do things with my own strength. God truly revealed the Father’s love for me and His heart for the nation of Cambodia.

I fell in love with Cambodia instantly and felt so joyful every time we went to do ministry work. On one bus ride back to our missions center after a day of ministry, I felt God asking me what I was going to take back with me from this trip. Surely it wasn’t a one week experience for me to play with some cute kids and pray for a couple of people. I replied, “I don’t know God but I just feel so happy here. I wish I could just stay in Cambodia forever.” And all of a sudden, the Lord showed me a flashback of 2014, probably one of the hardest years of my life. I was reminded of all those times when I would wake up feeling apathetic and thinking, “Oh man, another day of the same old same old.” I was reminded of all those times then I would walk through my college campus with heavy footsteps, hoping to just get my weekly campus ministry meeting over with. And at that moment I had to repent before God. I realized that the Lord was using the people of Cambodia and His ministry there to release fresh joy into me. My Christian walk and even my ministry service was not meant to be marked with dread or apathy. The Lord was using my mission field experience to renew my heart for Him and for His Kingdom work.

The Lord continued to speak to me through even the smallest interactions in the field. During fellowship and playtime, some of the kids at the orphanage and church would play hard to get, and it would be an ordeal to get even a smile or hug from them. I would do the craziest things just to get one smile. And I then realized that this was the Father’s love for me. As His child, God wanted me to experience joy everyday. And just as my heart would burst whenever I got a kid to smile, His heart posture was the same towards me. The Lord is committed to my joy. Despite the terrible genocide in Cambodia’s recent history, I realized that there was so much joy overflowing out of this place. God’s redeeming love was so strong that I would have never imagined what had happened about 40 years ago in this nation.

God used even my struggle the youngest team member for His glory. On the last night, I had the privilege of sharing my testimony about my encounter with the Holy Spirit. During that night’s sermon and altar call, I could feel the hunger of the youth- that they truly wanted more of God and God yearned to release it all unto them, just as He promises in Joel 2:28-29. And God continually said to me, “Do not despise your youth.” In the same way that I had been empowered step by step to this point of the mission trip, God was empowering the Cambodian youth. He had mighty plans for them to do greater things, despite their age. God is truly raising up the young generation of Cambodia to bring healing and restoration, and is raising them to positions of influence.

I would like to ask you to partner with me in continuing to pray for Cambodia. Some specific prayer points include:

  • An abundance of financial provision for the orphanages.
  • The keeping power of Christ over the children and youth, and for divine protection over their purity (especially for the girls).
  • Favor and financial overflow over Pastor Lim, one of the local pastors we worked with. Wisdom and grace as he raises 3 children of his own with his wife.

Cambodia is a nation that is 95% Buddhist, and Christians make up less than 1% of the population. It’s easy to be discouraged by these numbers, and I myself felt that same hopelessnessless. However, after this trip and witnessing God’s power in Cambodia firsthand, the Lord has really shifted my attention to rejoice over the 1%, and be expectant for how God will use this yeast to work its way through the entire batch of dough. I am excited for the greater glory in store in Cambodia!