2015 Cambodia – Rona Babb

Coming to Life

It’s hard to put words to what I experienced on my mission trip to Cambodia. I was sent to boldly release my inheritance, bind up the brokenhearted, release from captive the prisoners, release healing, and give unconditional love to the fatherless. I was sent as a first-time team preacher and was ready to minister and pour out all that God had given me. But God ended up using Cambodia to minister to me. I feel like Jesus took a mission trip into my own heart. As I woke up each morning, preached the Word, prayed healing for the sick, broke bread with believers, held and embraced the orphaned, danced with the locals, it began to feel like something cold and asleep inside of me began to stir and stretch and slowly come back to life. As I saw God pour out His Spirit, as I witnessed His power and love bring people from a place of darkness and death into light and life, something in me was also making this journey- the journey to becoming truly alive again in Him.

I knew that I needed fresh new touch from God. And it was in the midst of my obedience that God came through. Throughout the entire trip, I experienced the Father’s love in such a tangible and real way. I was wrecked by His love for the children in Cambodia. A love that is deep and wide. After I was completely captured by His love for the nation, my eyes started to open for the love He had for me. I’m here to testify the love of our Father God that I witnessed and experienced in Cambodia.

There were countless moments during the trip where I was completely undone by the perfect love of God. Like when Cambodian adults flooded the altar weeping at Sen Sok Freedom Church, wanting to lay down their burdens at the Cross and receive fresh grace and hope. This is a big deal, because on my trip to Cambodia just two years ago, we could not witness this sort of openness. We assessed from our previous trips that Cambodians were either so numb and traumatized by their traumatic history, namely the reign of the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields, that they had completely shut their hearts and disengaged with their emotions, or that Cambodian people were simply culturally stoic and not expressive. Well, we saw God completely shatter that paradigm. I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed, cried, and danced so much in one week. There was so much joy flowing amongst our team and amidst the Cambodian people, that when God brought us together, I think I started to understand a bit of what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote in his epistles, “being with you made my joy complete.” That’s what every ministry time felt like: joy made complete.

On this trip, God also invited me to step into a greater revelation of His heart for physical healing. I have prayed for the sick and seen them miraculously healed in the past, but this trip was altogether different. Weeks leading up to the trip, God kept pressing on my heart that He wanted to heal the sick in Cambodia and use me and my team to do it. Well, this made me uncomfortable. “But God, what if I pray and they’re not healed? I’m not afraid of failing, but I’m afraid they’ll be hurt. I’m afraid that if they don’t see healing, they won’t feel loved by you.” In response, I felt the Lord just telling me that we will get a supernatural impartation of His love and compassion for the people we pray for, and not to worry. I then began to ask the Lord for more of His heart for the sick. In response, I felt the Lord saying that He calls me friend, that I know His heart, and that He wanted me to tell Him my heart for healing. “Rona, how do you feel when you see the blind, the lame, the deaf? Are you okay with this?”

As soon as I opened my mouth to respond, I felt a heavy weight come upon me and began to weep for the broken. “No, God, I’m not okay with it. They were meant to be healed. I want to see the broken restored.”

As the team met up to share our expectations for the trip, several of them also shared that God was giving them a great desire to see physical healing, and that is exactly what we saw. Every time we ministered in a village, we led lively children’s ministry performances with dances, skits, songs, and games. Then we would have a personal testimony shared, followed by a sermon. We saw children delivered from the spirit of fear, people hearing God’s voice for the first time, and over a 100 youth raise their hands to receive Christ into their hearts.

And we saw God release physical healing to almost every person we laid hands on.

In one particular village, the moment I walked into the church I heard the Lord say, “I want to heal vision problems.” After we finished our service, I went to the back of the room where a group of 20 adults were gathered and asked if anyone had eye or vision problems. Three women came forward and each were miraculously healed! God restored their eyes! But moreso than that, as soon as I finished praying for these women, the Lord began to release precise prophetic words for them. In my heart I knew it was God confirming to me, “Rona, I’m not just healing their physical bodies. But they will know I am the Lord their God who sees them and is committed to them.” It was unbelievable.

After pouring out everything inside me during ministry time (sometimes at up to three village outreaches in one day), and I would get on the bus and begin to weep because I could feel the Lord saying, “I still have so much left inside my heart to give to my children in Cambodia.” I was daily, and moment by moment, wrecked by His love and commitment to His people.

Of all the moments in Cambodia though, the experience that most impacted me was spending New Year’s Day ministering at Hope Center Orphanage. You see, we had ministered all week to village children. And though they lived in relative poverty, they all had families and homes and belongings. Common sense would say that ministering to orphans would be a bit more difficult, as they would have more trauma and hardness of heart. But we found the exact opposite to be the case. Before getting off the bus at this orphanage, the fear of the Lord gripped me and I began to feel nervous. Through all the sermons I preached and congregations I ministered to during the week, I had no feelings of anxiety or stress, and no fear of making mistakes. But as we neared the orphanage, Father God began to speak to my heart and say, “Before you open up your mouth and say a word, recognize who it is you are speaking to. The world looks upon these orphans and says they are insignificant. But I have chosen them. They are my sons and daughters.”

At the Hope Center, I released a word about how the Lord always restores and redeems us from the dark, and how He calls us to dream big. I led an altar call for future teachers, doctors, and full-time ministers. 15-20 came up to each profession. I then had those orphans who stood to be full-time ministers go and pray for the other children and youth. It was powerful.
The entire team was in tears. We saw hope for an entire nation in that small orphanage. After ministry time, the team and I were completely blown away by the love, freedom, joy and power that these orphans walked in. The term “orphan” didn’t even suit them. They loved on us and manifested Christ to us in such a powerful way that the team was immensely built up and encouraged.

At one point, I saw three village children sitting together at the orphanage. They were not orphans, but had visited the orphanage that day to visit and be ministered to by the team. The older brother, probably 5 years old, held on to his baby sister, probably 1 year old. His other little sister, around 3 years old, clenched on tightly to his clothes. They sat huddled together, eyes darting back and forth in fear. All of the orphans were so free and easily received our affection and embraces, so I tried to pick up the little girl, but she started to cry and kick and scream. I saw big sores all over her little legs and everything inside me just wanted to embrace her and take care of her and make her feel safe and loved. When we passed out snacks, the orphans all ate and shared their snacks with the team. They ran and played and were completely free. These three village children, though, didn’t even open their snacks, saving them for later because they probably didn’t know when they’d be getting food again. They did not run, they did not play, and they did not receive our love.

The contrast between the three village children (who have a home and parents and belongings) and the orphans (who have no home, who have no parents, and who have no belongings) was so apparent. There is no explanation for this phenomenon other than the love of God. The love of God that turns an orphan into a son, heals the sick, and gives hope in place of fear. Though these children were orphans, they had no trace of the orphan spirit on them. Truly, they are sons and daughters of God. And as I studied the three village children and the orphans, I also began to see my own life. I could see who I once was in those fearful village children. And I could see what the love of God has caused me to become in those orphan children who are now so free and alive. And as I boarded the bus that afternoon, once again, tears flooded my face in humility and gratitude as I saw how far God had brought me, how well He loves me, and how good and faithful He has been.

As I get older and walk longer with the Father, I look back on my life and recognize certain experiences, conversations, and people that have changed the trajectory of my life. And I believe that this trip to Cambodia, to Hope Center Orphanage, is one such experience. Flowing with the power of the Spirit in such freedom and joy, weeping with the broken, healing the sick, preaching with fire and boldness, laughing and dancing with brothers and sisters I just met because we’ve all tasted and seen the same goodness in our Lord, holding a child who was once an orphan but is now a son… Stepping into that timeless and beautiful space when you feel most alive, most yourself, most connected to God and most like you’re doing what you were created for. This was and still is inexpressibly beautiful and too precious for me to try to clothe it with words. The only way to express it is I felt like I was coming to life. This trip revealed to me what truly living looks like. And I don’t think I can ever be the same again.