When we started coming to Restoration, our first small group leaders were Jesse and Sarah Blaine.About ten of us met weekly in their tiny Arlington apartment – young singles, newly marrieds, married with kids (us), and empty nesters. Jesse’s roguish passion and Sarah’s amiable charm put us at ease and challenged us to take this following Jesus business seriously.
Fast forward four years – Jesse and Sarah are still some of our favorite people, but now they live a little further away, in Phnom Penh. Their shared passion for Christ led them to the neglected orphans of Cambodia. Through World Orphans, they are introducing foster care to the country for the first time and challenging the existing church, small as it is, to care for abandoned kids.
Our church is also deeply committed to the International Justice Mission, and on Easter Sunday we were privileged to hear about IJM’s ongoing work to rescue victims of human trafficking in Cambodia. In keeping with Restoration’s tradition of giving our Holy Week offering to a ministry that cares for the world’s most marginalized peoples, this year we gave $11,416.31 to IJM Cambodia.
So our small group decided to try something new. This trimester we’re hosting a group to explore how to engage our Restoration mission partners in Cambodia. We’ll work to strengthen our relationship with IJM and the Blaines, learn about the history, culture and contemporary Christian experience in Cambodia, and consider how our church might strategically, creatively and authentically serve Cambodians with the love of Christ.
If you know the Blaines or appreciate IJM, we’d love to have you join us this term. Come for dinner and discussion as we learn and pray together about how to serve these friends in mission. As my wife likes to point out, you can’t find much more Biblically faithful ministry than loving orphans: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” (James 1.27).
I hope Jesse and Sarah have a little bigger apartment in Cambodia… I wonder whether one outcome of the small group might be to design a family friendly mission trip to bring the love of our church in Arlington to the Blaine’s new home and friends in Phnom Penh. Just like our first small group – with singles, marrieds, marrieds with kids and empty nesters. Just like the family of God.
(Small Group #10; 6:30 pm – Wednesday – Karen McNeilly and Kelly Ingebritson – Anyone welcome – Kids welcome – Engaging Cambodia)