Fall Retreat to Singapore and Back

DOS MRT 2017

Hey Restoration,

I loved being with so many of you at the fall retreat last weekend.  Our planning team did a superb job, the weather was perfect, and the content was challenging.  As you may know, a couple days after the retreat, Jeff Walton and I went to Singapore for their diocese’s triennial Mission Roundtable.  It has been such a good time to be with our friends from Cambodia (Jesse Blaine, Gregory Whitaker, Wong Tak Meng) and our friends from the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (Bill Deiss, Bill Haley) and our friends from Anglican Frontier Missions which is the sending agency for our folks in West Asia and on whose board Jeff Walton serves.

I love being around people who are passionate about the expansion of Jesus’ Kingdom and fame, who are creative about getting people interested in the Gospel, and who are courageous in getting to places that are hard to get to with this good news.  I REALLY love getting to be around those people on their turf, outside of the US.   This has been fun and encouraging.

A few highlights:

  1.  I joined the guys from ARDF to do a workshop on why relief and development is used by God to bring His Kingdom shalom.  I talked about how the local church partners with ARDF and how ARDF serves the local church to connect us to the needs of the world.   Quick reminder–  Restoration responded within days to the 2 earthquakes in Nepal back in 2015 by giving over $8ooo to ARDF.  Today, 85% of the churches that were destroyed in that earthquake have been rebuilt and the remaining 15% will be done by the end of the year.  The Anglican church in Nepal has grown by 50% since the earthquakes because of the witness of generosity, relief, and development.

    Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.58.40 PM

  2. The diocese of Singapore is a STRONG church.  I love their intentional, plan-filled hearts.  They have 6 mission ‘deaneries’:  Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, and Nepal.  I attended a workshop where the folks from Cambodia gave a robust update on the good work that God is doing through the church in that country.  Quick reminder–  Restoration sent Jesse, Sarah, and Clara Blaine to serve in Cambodia back in 2011.  Since that time, they have had 2 more girls, Jesse has been ordained to the priesthood and now leads a Khmer-speaking congregation, and they are leading the Alpha Course which they hope might become a church plant.

    Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.58.02 PM

  3. I spoke on a plenary panel about mission partnerships.  Jesse, Tak Meng, Stewart Wicker (of SAMS), Daryl Fenton (ACNA canon to SE Asia), and I talked about the relationship between Restoration (sending church), SAMS (sending missions agency), Singapore (Anglican diocese), and Jesse (mission church planter).  It was such a privilege to tell the story of our church and Cambodia–  the multiple teams we have sent; our desire to refresh the workers; the visits to Restoration from Tak Meng, Bolly Lapok, Jesse Blaine; the Holy Week financial gift we gave to CCOP for their church building project; the way we pray for the Blaines and Cambodia each month during our worship services.  Quick reminder:  I have been reminded many times of how unusual it is that we have such good, healthy, and deep global partnerships.  Most churches don’t have what we have and we have 3!!  (Cambodia, West Asia, and Bolivia).  I am so grateful to Liz Gray and her tireless work to help us stay connected and to go deep in these places.  And I am so grateful for the dozens and dozens of volunteers who have gone on trips, showed up at Resto prayer meetings, and given generously.  We have a vision to plant, to reproduce, to multiply (in Arlington and globally)–  and it was fun to tell that story this week.

Set up by the Fall Retreat…

Our topic at the fall retreat was ‘the problem of race and the power of the cross’.  Joe’s talk on Sunday morning was so educational for me.  He connected lots of dots as he spoke from Ephesians 3

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Ephesians 3: 4-6

Joe explained that when we talk about multi-ethnicity, we are not just talking about a diverse room.  Paul was describing what would happen as Jews and Gentiles followed Christ together–  there would be a multi-racial, multi-cultural church, whose members would be heirs together, ‘body together’, and sharers (partakers) together.

I have seen these 3 traits on display this week in Singapore.  It is a very diverse group:  ethnic Chinese, Tamil Indians, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Nepalese, Khmer, Americans, folks from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Thailand.  I have heard stories of national churches sharing resources so that there is a ‘shared inheritance’–  so that one church is not a ‘have’ and the other a ‘have not’.  I have watched churches ‘body together’ as they feel pain that is not their own, but treated as their own because another church is feeling it.  And I have watched churches ‘share together’- decide that ‘we are making it together.’  They are doing it across cultural and ethnic divisions, in spite of national pain, in defiance of being separated, as a declaration of unity for the sake of the Gospel.

It is beautiful.

Such is a week in my life at Restoration.  It doesn’t always involve such a swing of time zones, but every week seems to hold moments of God reconciling, empowering, emboldening, and healing.  Sometimes they are spectacular and public.  Most of the time they are quiet and hidden.

The mystery of Christ.

Grateful to be with you on the journey.

-David

Matt’s Picture Movie Review: Resto Cambo team reflections #5

As I was flipping through my images from Cambodia and reflecting on the many good gifts that God gave me while I was there, I was surprised by how comprehensive a review of the trip I saw by holding the arrow key down on my image viewer.  Without further ado, here is my RestoCambo2017 Album with just a few tweaks.  Enjoy!

If you have questions about any quick bit that you saw, I would be happy to answer any of them.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments below.

-Matt

Surprises in Cambodia: team reflections #4

20170126_165127

Several days ago, as I was preparing for a workshop session that I would be facilitating on the Khmer Pastors’ retreat, Liz reminded me to leave room to be surprised. She was right. The Holy Spirit so often surprises me in the midst of the mundane, and I operate best when I assume a posture of openness and flexibility to those surprises.

And so, on my final day in Phnom Penh, I sat in Brown’s Coffee (basically the Cambodian Northside Social) and reflected on my time, making special note of the ways God had surprised me. I wanted to share a few of these surprises with the Resto community that has so faithfully prayed for us. And as you read, who knows? Perhaps God will surprise you too – with a gentle nudge to pray for Cambodia, with a desire for greater involvement in outreach, or with a word or image that particularly speaks to your life here in Arlington.

Surprise 1: Loving Cambodia. I have traveled widely, and I am always interested in experiencing new places and cultures. I expected the same from Cambodia: interest, novelty, enjoyment. But instead, I fell in love. Before I even stepped on the plane, as I sifted through the English-Khmer Bible to prepare materials for the trip, the beautiful script resonated deeply with me. With Google Translate as my linguistic assistant, I began decoding numerals, days of the week, and punctuation. Did you know that Khmer is not a tonal language? That it’s derived from Sanscrit and Pali (the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism)? That the main row of characters are the consonants, and the little notations above and below are the vowel sounds? That there are no spaces between words? Like this:

ការអធិស្ឋានល្ងាច

That’s Khmer for evening prayer. Beautiful, right?

20170128_171533My love for Cambodia started with its script and continued through Phnom Penh and Kep. Walking the vibrant, friendly streets; riding tuk-tuks (moto taxis) around town; watching people grill squid and chip ice and boil cockles in the market; eating glutinous sesame rice cooked over coals in banana peels;  women waist-deep in the ocean pulling in their crab traps; monkeys crossing the streets; strangely translated restaurant names (“The Slimming Foods and Puppies House”); I loved it all. I was surprised. God gave me joy where I expected mere interest.

Surprise 2: God speaks loudly in silence. For the first part of our trip, we supported a team from Christ Church Austin as they conducted a silent retreat for members of the international congregation of the Anglican church in Phnom Penh (Church of Christ Our Peace).  It is a strange thing to facilitate a silent retreat; there is no verbal feedback mechanism by which you can evaluate people’s level of engagement with the material. As we moved quietly behind the scenes – arranging meals, setting up tables, preparing the liturgy – the participants silently disappeared to who knows where, doing who knows what.

On the final morning, the retreatants broke their silence with a 1-2 minute reflection on what they had experienced. Each person had received a helpful image, word, scripture, or answer from God. One man, an IT consultant, had composed a stunning poem about the strength of God’s goodness. One woman, a burned-out aid worker, had been reassured of God’s fatherly care by the sight of a baby monkey on its father’s back. Another woman described lying on the roof of our hotel under the stars one night, singing praises to the heavens. Others described powerful moments of healing and hope and comfort.

God speaks in silence. He fills whatever empty spaces we create for him. He comes to us in our rest and our surrender.

Surprise 3: Long-term, gradual, incremental work does add up!  So often, I am hardened and skeptical about good work being done in the world. I know how complex global problems are and how fraught with setbacks and unintended consequences their solutions can be. I begin to doubt that sustainable transformation is really possible. And yet that is precisely the story of International Justice Mission (IJM) in Cambodia, where they have combatted sex trafficking for over a decade. Again and again, I heard people talk about the remarkable transformation that IJM has brought to Cambodia. Though sex trafficking still exists, it’s now an acknowledged societal problem, one that the Cambodian government, police, and courts are increasingly well equipped to tackle on their own. And some communities have been completely transformed. We visited one village that used to be a center of child prostitution and walked down an infamous street once lined with child brothels, where children as young as 5 could be bought and sold. Now, thanks to tireless work by IJM and by Agape International Mission (AIM) over many years, children in that town are being protected, rehabilitated, educated, and equipped for a productive life outside the sex trade. Those brothels are now schools, training centers, churches – places of healing and flourishing. Change is possible. God’s light can penetrate even the darkest corners of humanity.

Surprise 4: Immigrants are immigrants. In that same community where we witnessed such incredible transformation of the child sex trade, we also witnessed the sad reality of immigrant communities everywhere: marginalization and disdain. This community was home to many Vietnamese immigrants, widely mistrusted and disliked by ethnic Khmer. These Vietnamese are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking and exploitative labor practices. They are linguistically isolated from Khmer schools and society. They are poor. They are different.

It was a surreal moment to witness the difficulties facing this immigrant community while hearing news about the increased vulnerability of immigrant communities back home. Immigrants everywhere are vulnerable, and I’m thankful for the protective and healing work that AIM is doing in this particular community. May we all be so courageous, standing with the most vulnerable among us and working tirelessly for their protection.

Surprise 5: Worship and prayer are universal languages. My moments of deepest joy came in worship and prayer. As Liz Gray wrote in our final email update, “God gave us a ‘thin space’ to intercede,” and he truly did. Whether praying blessing in English over rural Khmer pastors; praying for healing with individuals we’d never spoken to on the silent retreat; or praying the words of the liturgy simultaneously in multiple languages; God’s presence in our prayers was palpable and transcended language barriers. Similarly, we were gifted with momentary glimpses of heaven as we sang 1990s praise songs simultaneously, exuberantly, in Khmer and English.

Surprise 6: There is only one Jesus. This should seem obvious. But because I’m interested in other religions and cultures, and because I firmly believe “all truth is God’s truth,” and because I can find redemptive threads in almost any cultural narrative, sometimes I lose sight of the absolute uniqueness of Jesus. I wrote an earlier blog post on one of my many moments realizing this in Cambodia.

Another such moment came during a painful visit to the Killing Fields on our final day. The Killing Fields are one of many designated places of remembrance of the tragedy of Pol Pot’s regime. There, inmates from Tuol Sleng prison (a place of horrific torture which we visited earlier in our trip) were brought to be killed and dumped in mass graves. Bits of bone and fragments of clothing still litter the ground, brought to the surface with every rain.  The earth still takes the shape of what were once mass graves, rising and falling in unnatural mounds. Several massive trees of significance are marked: the tree against which children were killed, and the tree from which loudspeakers were hung to blare revolutionary music to cover the screams.

Along the path through the fields is another tree, dedicated by Buddhist monks several years ago. It is just a young sapling, protected by a fence but drooping sadly nonetheless, bearing a sign: “Tree of Hope and Peace.”  It was at this tree that I had another moment of gratitude for the uniqueness of Jesus. This little sapling of hope and peace looked so flimsy and ineffective against the monstrous trees of torture nearby. But Jesus himself is our hope and peace. Not a flimsy, symbolic, wishful-thinking sort of hope and peace, but a robust, embodied one. Because he lived and suffered as a human like us, he is compassionately with us in our pain. He does not explain away the pain of existence or seek to escape it, as Buddhism teaches; he fully embraces it in his suffering, dying, human body. And because he rose again, we have a confident assurance that there is powerful healing, redemption, and restoration waiting in the wings just beyond our pain.

As I stood there, I remembered another tree of hope and peace from Revelation 22:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life . . .. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

And in the midst of a place of enormous suffering and deep darkness, with a hopelessly inept tree before me, I prayed the only thing I could think to pray, echoing some of the last words of that same chapter of Revelation: Come, Lord Jesus!

~Amy Rowe

resto cambo reflections #2: Light and Darkness

As I reflect on my time in Cambodia, I am struck most significantly by the contrast of light and darkness; hope and despair.  I see light in so many wonderful people living and working here to better the lives of others – people who are pushing back the darkness of extreme poverty, sexual exploitation and animism to share true hope.  Hope that is not a feeling of expectation, but the certain hope found in Christ.  As I think about my time here, there are verses from the first chapter of the gospel of John that frame what I was experiencing.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it:  

IMG_7729For almost a decade, I have prayed for a notorious red light district in Phnom Penh called.  I learned of this area through the International Justice Mission and their undercover work here freeing young girls who were sexually exploited.  Over the years I have prayed for the girls who were sold into sexual slavery, the pimps who terrorized them and the people who have come to change the culture of this place.  I never imagined I would get to walk through the very same place.  It was deeply moving to walk through what was once an infamous red light district and visit the school, factory, gym, halfway house and other establishments that have replaced the brothels.

There came a man sent from God…he came as a witness to testify about the Light so that all might believe through him:

I am humbled by the wonderful people I have met here in Cambodia. People who, because of their love for  Jesus live, work and serve others here.  I met Chad, Kimberly and Rachel who work the former red light district training teachers, running the school, overseeing a half-way house for abused women and children, and using donations to purchase and repurpose brothels.  I learned of the Brazilian doctor who has lived as a volunteer in Cambodia for over 5 years providing free medical care to the residents in this same community.  I watched a very famous Cambodian kick boxer volunteering his time teaching and coaching young athletes in a gym that was formerly a brothel.  I have eaten dinners with Jesse and Sarah as well as Gregory and Heidi who live in Cambodia with their families where they love, lead and serve through the Church of Christ our Peace in Phnom Penh.  I met Danielle, who runs an orphanage; Steve, who works for an aid group; Amy, the professional photographer who is volunteering her craft to provide photographs for aid agencies and literally dozens of others.

There was the true Light, which coming into the world, enlightens every man.  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him and the world did not know him:

IMG_7673The main religion in Cambodia is Animism – the belief that all things – animals, plants, rocks and artifacts are alive and have spiritual qualities.  While here I have seen people offering sacrifices to the flagpole (Cambodia’s most powerful spirit – see photo); statues in temples; and deceased relatives.  I have watched as even extremely poor people set out fruits and meats so the spirits of their dead ancestors could enjoy the essence of the items or burn fake money as an offering  of well being to the deceased.  As I have observed, I have also prayed for each one of them to  turn from praying to inanimate objects and long for God.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Almost every morning, I have gone out early to enjoy a run (I don’t have access to a bike here ;-).  In the quiet of the morning, amidst the smell of burning trash, I have seen; waved to; smiled at so many Cambodians on my runs.  In each of them I see a small pilot light – a deep desire – to know and be known; to love and be loved; to see and be seen.  My prayer for each of them has been that bit of light in each of them draw them to God.

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 7.57.04 AM

I hope you will pray with me for the people of Cambodia.

*Thank you for reading this far.  It has been a joy to share a glimpse of my experience.  Please contact me if you would like to see photos or learn more about my trip. 

-Mary Breed

resto cambo reflections #1: Birds at the Altar

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is named for its 600-year-old central pagoda, Wat Phnom (literally “Hill Pagoda”). We visited Wat Phnom on our second day in Cambodia. In addition to being a place of devotion and prayer, its grounds are also used for sex trafficking, sometimes in broad daylight. We silently prayed for each person we saw, especially those who appeared vulnerable to exploitation, as we walked the gently sloping hill of the temple grounds.

IMG_7900

When we reached the top of the hill where the main pagoda sits, the air was filled with burning incense, ringing bells, and gold banners waving in the breeze. Eight-tiered spires ascended to a single point in the sky, architectural representations of Buddhism’s eight-fold path to nothingness. Below those spires were small cages crammed with sparrows and swallows, waiting to be sold to temple-goers. These birds are part of an ancient Buddhist practice of freeing caged animals as an act of kindness, thus generating good karma. Though the practice originated in an attempt to protect and rescue vulnerable animals (e.g., chickens destined for the chopping block), it has evolved over the centuries. Now, the animals freed are rarely vulnerable and in need of protection; rather, the very act of capturing and caging them suppresses their immune systems and makes their survival nearly impossible. And the release of the birds, rather than simply a karmic good deed, has become a form of prayer to have one’s wishes satisfied. As the bird is released, so are the person’s hopes for, say, a good grade on an upcoming test; the strength to overcome addictions; a negative cancer scan; a “yes” to a marriage proposal.

IMG_7896As I watched these birds released, I noticed how most of them simply circled the wat a few times before landing, only to be captured, caged, and released again. And I found myself thinking that this bird-release practice isn’t so different from what we do at church each week. We capture up our longings and release them to God – through words, through prayer, and through the Eucharist. We use something we can touch and see – bread and wine – to express our faith in a vast unseen mystery. And we do it again and again, capturing and releasing our hopes to God, week in and week out. I was struck by how very human we all are, Cambodians and Arlingtonians alike: longing for our prayers to be heard; longing to encounter the divine; and using the earthy, tangible stuff all around us to express these longings.

But as I reflected further, I realized that the differences outweigh the similarities. Though it may feel like the Christian life is an endless repetition of capture-and-release to God, it isn’t. God is not far off in the sky, waiting for our birds to come his way. He is with us and in us. Our confessions and longings do not circle the sky and return to us empty; they are received by “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” Though we share with Buddhists a penchant for tangible symbols (as all humans do), our symbols of bread and wine represent the body and blood of a resurrected person, a real event in human history, an act of once-and-for-all sacrificial love that demonstrate that God indeed is with us, loves us, hears us, and knows us.

A week after we visited Wat Phnom, we supported a silent retreat for Christian workers in Phnom Penh. This retreat was designed as a time of refreshment for people who pour themselves out in service to others in places of profound darkness and suffering. At the end of our time, one of the retreatants shared a scripture that had proved meaningful to her over the weekend. It, too, involved sparrows and swallows – the same birds used in the temple releases – but evokes a secure relationship with a loving God rather than futile repetition and empty hope:

“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.” Psalm 84:3

We do not release our prayers to God as acts of wishful thinking. Instead, we are invited to take up residence in the safety of his altar.

-Amy

Pentecost Sunday 2016

Pentecost 2016 Dove

Pentecost Sunday (May 15) is just around the corner and it will be quite a busy day at Restoration Anglican Church! The Easter season has invited us to explore areas in which we need the power of Jesus’ resurrection life. Ascension Day (May 5) reminds us of Christ’s being seated at God’s right hand in glory, far above all earthly rule (Ephesians 5:21) to give us a heavenly abode for our earthly mind.

Pentecost begins the longest season in the church’s calendar and this seems rather appropriate, for while Christ’s earthly ministry lasted roughly three decades, the Holy Spirit has been indwelling and empowering Christ’s body to do the work of the His kingdom for over 2,000 years! So what is so amazing about Pentecost Sunday 2016 at Restoration? I am glad that you asked. . .

The Rev. Jesse Blaine will be among us! He is currently in the USA with Sarah and the girls on home leave from Cambodia, and he will bring God’s word to us during the 9am and 11am services and share a bit of what God has been doing in his family’s life and their ministry in Cambodia. If you would like to know more about Restoration’s involvement with the Blaines and Cambodia, visit our Global Outreach page where you will find more information about our involvement with Cambodia.

During the 9am and 11am services we will have baptisms. We will have the pleasure of welcoming some in our community into body of Christ and celebrating their new life in Christ together with them! If you would like more information on baptism at Restoration, please visit our Baptism page.

Restoration has been blessed to see several of its members called to serve God’s church in Holy Orders (i.e. becoming Deacons and Priests). On Pentecost Sunday at the 5pm service, Morgan Reed will be ordained to the sacred Order of Deacons. We will have incense, Bishop John Guernsey will be present to ordain Morgan, and the Rev. Liz Gray will be preaching. There will be a reception immediately following the service.

Pentecost Sunday will remind us of the thrilling ways in which the Holy Spirit is at work in our community here at Restoration! 

#Cambo … a reflection

0b6e3c03-ebe0-486c-94b1-b591c144aeef

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Landing in Cambodia, it was the heat that struck me first.  I had read about the sub-tropical climate we’d experience, but reading about the heat and actually feeling its suffocating effects are two entirely different things.  That’s just common sense, you say.  But I was the little girl who confidently told her mother she knew how to ride a horse because she’d read a book about it.  Later, my cousin’s horse would be spooked by a rabbit leaping across its path, and I’d land tangled in a mess of barbed wire that would scar me for years.  But somehow I continued to believe that reading about something, and knowing about that something, were interchangeable.

True to form, I read many books about Cambodia before traveling there with our Restoration team last summer.  I read about the country’s history as a French colony, about its role in the Southeast Asian geopolitical landscape, and about Saloth Sar the privileged Cambodian who became Pol Pot the murderous dictator.  Under his rein, and through the hands of his Khmer Rouge soldiers, Cambodia in the latter half of the 1970s became a country-wide concentration camp and terror ruled the land.  Soldiers slaughtered babies while their mothers watched, helpless.  Fathers disappeared in the night, never to return.  Families that weren’t torn apart in the chaos of sending townspeople to the countryside soon were separated when children were dispersed to age- and gender-specific work brigades.  Long days of forced labor, compounded by a dearth of food, led to widespread starvation.  And a disdain for education and trained medical personnel made even the most treatable illness a potentially fatal one.  In all, 3 million of the 7 million Cambodians alive in 1975 had perished by 1979.

But reading about these events didn’t prepare me for the reality of seeing those events etched in the faces of survivors and their families — the teenager whose mother was a child in the 1970s, the octogenarian who’d been incarcerated in the Tuol Sleng prison and survived (no easy feat, as 14,000 entered but fewer than ten exited alive).  I was 5 when the horrors began in Cambodia, and 45 when I visited Phnom Penh.  Despite the passage of 40 years, the scars of that traumatic season in Cambodia’s history are still quite apparent — and in some ways, troublingly fresh.  Individuals who lived through the Pol Pot nightmare continue to suffer greatly.  In one study published in 2005, the authors reported on roughly 600 Cambodians who’d lived through Pol Pot’s regime and then fled to California.  Twenty years after resettlement, the statistics are still startling:  62% suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 52% suffered from depression.  Numerous studies of Cambodians — both in Cambodia and in resettlement populations globally — report similarly high rates of mental dysfunction and suffering. 

Sadly, studies also show that the psychological impact of Pol Pot’s regime isn’t limited to those who lived through the late 1970s.  A growing body of literature based on studies of the Cambodian genocide and the Holocaust concludes that the psychological effects of war trauma can affect parenting styles and perpetuate dysfunctional behaviors in subsequent generations.  Survivors, who were deprived of “normal” family life and subjected to unspeakable horrors, remain haunted by those events and later struggle to build healthy families.  Genocide and political conflict have profound consequences not only for individuals, but for entire societies.   

Just as reading about the Cambodian genocide couldn’t adequately prepare me for its concrete realities, neither did my visit to Auschwitz as a teenager prepare me for walking the paths of the Killing Fields as an adult.  Toward the end of our stay in Cambodia, our team visited the site where thousands of Cambodians detained in Tuol Sleng were brought for slaughter.  Although the mass graves were excavated long ago, the earth still tells the stories of those who died there, as fragments of clothing and bone continue to work their way to the surface.  I was stopped in my tracks by a pair of children’s shorts exhibited in a glass box along the path.  And a sign describing the so-called “Killing Tree,” against which babies’ heads were bashed by soldiers, left me awash with grief.  But what lingered in my consciousness long after that afternoon was the narrated admonition of a Cambodian genocide survivor telling other survivors that they must pull themselves up by their bootstraps and heal themselves.

As a survivor of childhood abuse, I know full well the effects of PTSD, the darkness of depression, and the struggle for normalcy.  Like the survivor who narrates this admonition as visitors rest alongside a lagoon near the Killing Fields, I spent decades fighting for sanity and health on my own.  And for decades, I failed. Thankfully, my story has a happy ending — through two intense years of Christian counseling and healing prayer, Jesus met me in amazing ways and made me whole.  But Cambodia is a country where only 3% of the population knows Jesus.  This stark reality makes more precious the willingness of Sarah and Jesse Blaine to move halfway around the world and plant a church in Cambodia, and the willingness of Restoration to support their efforts.  It also underscores clearly the need for continued outreach, because only Jesus can deliver the true healing that Cambodia so clearly needs.  How can you help make Jesus a reality for Cambodia today?

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28.

For those interested in reading about the lingering impact of Pol Pot’s regime, check out “Cambodia’s Hidden Scars:  Trauma Psychology in the Wake of the Khmer Rouge” (Talbott, Van Schaak, Reicherter, Chhang, eds. 2011).

~ Christine Wilson

Cambodia Prayer Night – February 8, 7:30 pm

12032050_10153065377216524_1314446579450099677_n

Cambodia is a place that Restoration has grown to love over the past several years.  In 2012 we commissioned Jesse and Sarah Blaine to serve in Phnom Penh with World Orphans and since then our relationship with their new community has blossomed.   The Blaines attend Church of Christ our Peace (CCOP) and Restoration has had the privilege of sending several teams to minister through retreats and VBS to both their Khmer- and English-speaking congregations.  We have had the opportunity to meet and engage with many of the Blaines’ friends, as well as pastors serving rural congregations in Cambodia, and expats who are working with NGOs in Phnom Penh.

Jesse was recently ordained to the transitional diaconate, and as he approaches his next ordination to the presbytery, we want to meet regularly to pray for him and his family, for their ministry, and for the many other people we have come to love in Cambodia.

If you love the Blaines, love Cambodia, or just love to pray, please join us on Monday night (February 8) in the fellowship hall from 7:30-8:30.  All are welcome!

New Wineskins 2016 – coming soon!

Banner-1Every three years Anglicans in North America gather for an amazing conference: … and it’s coming up soon: April 7-10, 2016.

We would love to see a small team of people attending from Restoration. The Blaines will be there as well as many other folk we are encountering and working with globally. On the last day there will be an additional South East Asia Symposium which will be a wonderful opportunity to hear more about Cambodia and the Blaines (and where we can hoot and holler our support for them!)

Interested? Read more here, sign up and then let Liz know you are going so we can arrange accommodation and travel together! We do have some money available for scholarships as well.

Honestly? You won’t regret it! Join me!

~Liz

 

#Cambo15: Airplanes, Loom Bracelets, and Special Education

IMG_2517

Want to hear more? Come to the team debrief  TODAY – July 27, 7.30pm at  the Weimer’s home (address on the calendar or worship guide!)

The Lord Equips

When my husband, Matt, and I are heard about the Cambodia trip, we jumped at the chance to go for two reasons: it fit within our timeline of vacation days as teachers about to enter summer break, and we were eager for an opportunity to serve and explore missions together. Married just over a year, both of us had prior experiences in short and long-term missions as individuals but this trip would be our first chance at serving a community and a church overseas as a married couple. I knew I could help with the administrative logistics of planning the prayer retreat and I also felt comfortable with the idea of prayer ministry time for the Khmer pastors during the first week of the trip and working with children for Vacation Bible School for the second week of the trip. Beyond that, however, I felt intimidated by the idea of being a co-leader of a trip to a place I had never been and unsure how my particular talents and giftings as a special educator and school leader would be of use to the team or the people we were coming to serve.

A couple days before Vacation Bible School started, we learned from a member of Church of Christ Our Peace (CCOP) that a boy, ‘J,’ with behavioral challenges and special needs was signed up and would be present on the Yellow Team (9-12 year olds).  His mother wanted to know, however, if she should just keep him at home due to his behavioral challenges or if someone might be able to give him some extra attention to help him during the week. My heart smiled when I heard his story and his needs. Attention issues? Got it. Needs to move around a lot? Sure thing. Has a hard time interacting appropriately in social situations with peers? No problem. I spent the past year working long hours day after day with 10-12 year-olds with similar learning and behavioral challenges and fell in love with their quick wit, high energy, honesty, quirks, and desire to engage and be heard. Children with learning challenges and behavioral needs are capable, interesting, and in need of a few extra supports to access activities like the ones we had planned at Vacation Bible School. So, I jumped with joy at the chance to be J’s ‘special friend’ for the week.

To earn his trust, we spent half of the first morning getting to know one another by talking and playing. He talked in highly technical terms about airplanes — far above my head — and I listened with fascination and respect as he was clearly passionate and knowledgeable about transportation. Later, we joined the Yellow Team again to make loom bracelets and J realized that he loves to create! We set up an incentive system where he could earn stars for listening and participating and once he earned 10 stars, we would take a break together to talk about airplanes. For all future Bible story times and worship times, J could be found making loom bracelets, necklaces, and key chains while his VBS teachers led the activities.  J left that week with love from his VBS teachers, a confidence that he had an ability to create, and questions about Jesus’s baptism from John the Baptism.  All in all, a great week!  God equips us with unique talents, skills, personalities, and spiritual gifts to do the work He has called us to do.

Hebrews 13:20-21

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

~Kelley Spainhour

© Copyright Restoration Anglican Church