2015 Cambodia – Joe Pang

Unprecedented Joy

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” -Psalm 5:11

Hearing so much about the spiritual opposition and the challenges that previous teams had faced in Cambodia, I was preparing myself for intense warfare, and to be a source of joy no matter the circumstances. I expected to walk into a nation that would still be tangibly suffering from the reign of the deadly Khmer Rouge. I expected to be ministering to stoic faces that would not even react to my smile. But our team encountered none of the above. Instead we were met with unprecedented joy and love from the Cambodian people. Meeting so many that were full of life and thanksgiving, my heart and mindset quickly shifted from being the source of joy to actually being the recipient of it.

Our fellowship with the orphanage children was so pure and full of joy that I had to constantly remind myself that I was in the mission field. God was revealing that His heart was deeply rooted in Cambodia and that He was the one pouring out His joy on the nation. It was Him doing the work, not us. We were simply His witnesses to join Him in His story.

On our third day, the team ministered in a village outside the city of Phnom Penh. It was there that I met a young orphan girl that could not have been more than 4 years old. We immediately connected as I held her and played with her and her small plastic toy that she held so dearly. She would place it in my hand and I would hide it in one of my hands, so she could guess where it was hidden. The joy in her face made her smile from cheek to cheek. Even after playing with her, and as I prayed for the church leaders, the little girl would follow me and grab my finger as I placed my other hand on the shoulder of the head pastor. Not once did I feel annoyed or bothered. I felt only love and compassion for this girl.

As our team was heading off and filing into the bus to drive into another town, I turned around and saw the little girl standing by the church doors. I knelt down and spread out my arms and immediately she started to run towards me for one last hug. With her tiny steps through the grass and dirt, she ran full speed and embraced me with her small arms, almost knocking me back off my feet. And just like a surge of electricity, I was flooded with compassion and joy. And in that moment, I realized that this is what God feels for me. When I run to Him and allow Him to embrace me and speak into my life, He is filled with compassion and joy, just like I was in that moment. But I started to realize just how often I would just stand timidly by the door while God was welcoming me for a full embrace. How often would I decide to do life on my own, leaving God and rejecting Him when He was inviting me to be safe in His arms. Through this moment, God was showing me that He is a good father, and that He never leaves us, no matter how many times we leave Him.

Walking with the Lord, in His embrace, He revealed to me just a small glimpse of the compassion and joy that He feels towards me. God used this very moment, on this very trip to show me an unprecedented joy that I will know and carry for the rest of my life. I am forever blessed for having been able to be God’s minister in Cambodia. I am expectant for greater testimonies of love and revelation to come out of this mission field!