Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back from Cambodia

Phnom Penh was an amazing, exciting, crazy place to be staying for ten days. Geckos crawled the walls inside the houses and restaurants. People set up shop any place they could find on the shoulder of the road--all you need is a cart and some merchandise. And no traffic rules applied, such as: what lane you're supposed to be in, what side of the road you're supposed to drive on, and whether red means stop or green means go. As far as we could tell the only traffic rule that applied in Phnom Penh was, Do what you need to do to get there.

The Cambodian people are friendly, gentle, easy-going souls. They graciously tried to understand my Khmer and gave me pronunciation pointers on my vowels. (There are more than 40 different vowel sounds in Khmer, the most of any language in the world.)

Using a translator, I taught a discipleship-type class for Christian women from Monday to Friday the week I was there. Going in, I was under the impression that my students would be at a more basic level. But as I began teaching them I quickly realized they were much more advanced, and I had to rework all my lessons to make them adequately challenging.

They wanted to know why the clean and unclean food laws from the Old Testament changed after Jesus' coming. They wanted to understand the Trinity. They wanted to know why good people suffered and evil people prospered in this life. All really good questions. They were questions that I had thought of before, and the more I answered the more questions they asked. Before I knew it, it was Friday.

I only wish I had more than just one week to spend with those Christian women. But whatever my longing, I have to accept the shortness of my stay. I had seen enough to know that the Holy Spirit is working in the lives of those believers, and it was my privilege to be able to stop in briefly and enjoy fellowshipping with them in our common faith.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Off to Cambodia

I'm off to Cambodia tomorrow morning. I spent a year and a half trying to learn Khmer just for this ten-day trip, and yet I feel like I know hardly anything. Since not many people know Khmer, I thought I might be able to connect with the Cambodian people more quickly if I at least made an effort to learn their language.

Otherwise I will be relying on a translator. I'll be giving five lectures at a Christian women's conference on how to grow in your relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. I'll also be sharing the gospel with women in the rural villages who are mostly illiterate.

From everything I've heard, the Cambodian people are a cheerful and resilient people in spite of the horrors they suffered during the Pol Pot massacre in the 70's. Going into that context carrying Jesus' message of forgiveness and of redemption through suffering, I can't say I feel entirely adequate. If there are Cambodian Christians who have learned to forgive the past and have managed to find redeeming value in their sufferings, they are the true message bearers. I'm sure I'll come away feeling more blessed by them than the other way around.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

AFA bizarreness

A friend points me to a story about the bizarre editing practices of the American Family Association. Anyone ever heard of "auto-replace"? I think I'll turn it over to The Carpetbagger Report to explain . . .

The auto-corrected version of the article can be found here.