Laurel Hanke continues our series of reflections on our Cambodia trip…. read on …..
We had been driving a while on the dusty, pot-holed road when our van stopped near a cinder-block building, painted pale yellow. Slightly larger than a kids’ classroom at Restoration, it was the meeting place for an Anglican church plant in Rokakos Province, about 45 minutes outside of Phnom Penh. The modest one-room church was empty and swept clean. Several windows and two open doorways on opposite walls let in the afternoon light.
The young pastor, Sovannia, was so unassuming and humble that earlier, at our meeting place in the city, I hadn’t even noticed he was with us. Now he had command of the room. About twenty children sat on the floor, captivated by his words, eyes following his every move. His bible lesson was punctuated with songs and hand gestures, which the kids joined with gusto. Their interactions were entirely in Khmer, and the connection and authority Sovannia had with these kids was obvious. As their lesson ended, each child eagerly received a bag of snacks and went running out the door to play in the dusty concrete courtyard that surrounded the church.
There were 10 believing adults in the congregation, all of them the first in their families to follow Jesus. We sat in a circle, our team quietly witnessing this young pastor shepherd his flock through worship songs, prayers, and a sermon. The service appeared to be winding down when one-by-one each believer asked for prayer. Our team surrounded each one, laying-on hands and praying in faith for Jesus to meet each heart with His ministry of healing and comfort. It was such an honor to be allowed to participate with the Lord as He strengthened their hearts. The honor increased when the believers encircled us and prayed for God’s work in our lives.
Since returning to Arlington, I have thought often about that prayer time. It had a different flavor, a stronger potency, than the way I experience prayer here. It’s almost like there were years of built up gunk clogging my communication with God. Each time we prayed in Cambodia, it was another dose of Drano, cleaning out the lines. By the time we got to Sunday, and I prayed for the Christians in Rokakos, I was infused with a certainty of God’s passionate affection for them. In that moment, I knew He was meeting them, and I was swept into His work on their behalf. I want to pray like that again. I want to partner with God in His work. What does that look like here, in my Arlington life?