“I’ve never seen that look on your face ever before. I thought the worst had happened and we needed to cancel our plans and get you to the States for a funeral.” No, it wasn’t quite that bad but I guess it looked like it on my face. Extreme disappointment. Embarrassment. Miscommunication. My heart was broken for my friend in the middle and for myself. I was so excited for this opportunity to see my brothers and sisters in Christ again and this time to be able to introduce them to my family.
I cannot believe that we are here. I cannot believe that just a year ago a few days before Christmas I had returned from my first missions trip ever- and it was to this very place. Now we are headed back there as a family. I am taking my family to the country of Cambodia.
What’s so special about Cambodia?
Nothing really. I mean it is one of many countries in South East Asia where many westerners may consider going because things are cheaper there than many other places. The food is good and the people are nice. It is still developing especially in the areas where I visited and plan to visit on this trip with my family.
So….if it is “just a place” then Why Cambodia?
Well, I guess it is just because of the specific people I met and saw there. Young people who love Jesus and want to know and follow Him more. That’s what draws me there. They are on my mind and in my heart. I didn’t ask for them to be here but they are and as I returned from my 2nd missions trip to Cambodia only a month ago in November, it was just so exciting to see what God was doing there with the same young leaders I met a year ago and even more. I saw how I could help with the spread of the gospel of Jesus. My whole focus with my blog, my social media posts but most importantly the things that I do with my time (facilitating or teaching Bible studies, mentoring and encouraging others, leading worship etc. as well as the disciplining of my children) has been from a strong desire to see people around me grow to love and trust the Lord in every area of their lives. This is what God has put in me to do. I cannot NOT do this. The question is to whom, how and where do I invest my time?
The possibility of moving to Cambodia came to mind (you may have heard me talk about this near the end of my interview here) and amazingly my husband has kept considering and looking into this even after I only briefly mentioned it one time.
Our trip to Cambodia is also to see what life here might be like for our family to relocate here after his upcoming retirement from the government. I don’t know if you can understand my complete amazement that we are here in this place- headed to Cambodia together as a FAMILY!!! 😳🤩 Only God, only God. What I do know is that this visit may not lead to us moving to Cambodia like I thought but instead that we might grow closer as a family to see the possibilities of what may be next. I realized that I am completely open to what God is doing even though my heart has been broken.
During this time of disappointing news do you know who was there with me at that time? My unbelieving husband. As plans were starting to unwravel and I realized something was wrong, I wanted to talk to my husband about what was happening but I felt like I couldn’t. I thought he couldn’t understand. Then I thought how could I really be in ministry in a place like Cambodia with a lack of support when I am alone in this? So I sat there in my thoughts and carried the burden of what was unwraveling with our trip here to Cambodia alone with just me and God. Even the Pastor as this was happening was silent but then again, what could he really even say?
‘Would you stay with me even if things were not going as you thought they would?‘ asks God. That was the question that Andrew Brunson discovered God was asking as he was a missionary imprisoned in Turkey. His final conclusion that he was not at all prepared for what he endured, what I heard him share in his testimony (watch it here) that haunts me. As I listened to his words, as tears streamed down my face, I pleaded with God – Lord I want to be ready. God help me to be ready. So is this experience God’s way of answering my prayer? Is God preparing me for the heartbreaks that can come with ministry? The miscommunication? The boundaries and lines drawn by people marking their territories? Yes. I believe so. I know it is so. I am realizing that God cares about my whole family. He IS preparing ALL of us (as well as those watching); we are all seeing how God is at work (if we have the eyes to see) it is so obvious His hand is here in all of this.
I discovered that when Daniel gently came into the room yesterday to ask me if I could share what was wrong (because he was thinking the worst)- I knew I needed to tell him even if he didn’t understand. So I did. And, well I was wrong, he did understand. It was such a relief to be able to express openly to him about what I was feeling as my plans for Cambodia were unwraveling. God I thank you for this man. Even though He chooses not to follow you (yet) I can see how you work through him and how you are showing me how to be sensitive to what you’re doing and to watch and see how you are patiently drawing the nonbelivers you have placed in my heart and in my life close to you. Lord, I see how you love and lead them too even as I trust you to lead me.
Today is Christmas here in South Korea. Our plane to Cambodia leaves right now! (See photo. I’m editing on the plane!) I woke up thinking about Mary. She knew her son, Jesus, would have a hard life as the responsibility of being the Savior of the world was upon His shoulders. She knew this privilege suddenly presented an unexpected change of plans to her life as she said YES to God. God called Mary to have a baby, as a virgin, and almost lost her husband-to-be over it. More than that, they both were called to parent the Son of God in the flesh. God was definately involved in this. And as Mary watched her Son grow up she cherished so many unexpected experiences that transpired deep in her heart. Every incident and memory rolodexed through her mind reminding her and strengthening her that these were all for a reason and even the death by crucifixion of her Son was for a purpose. This was why He came. This must be done. I must trust in the Lord as I had before all along even though this is so painful to experience and endure. Mary knew God had a plan. Mary knew God’s will WOULD be done. So I too will treasure these unexpected moments as God shapes me and my family through these experiences even as they change from what I thought they would be to what God works it to be. In all things God’s will WILL be done. I know this. I trust this. Do you?
Angel came to visit Mary. Luke 1:26-38
Elizabeth baby jumping in her womb and praising God. Luke 1:39-56 “46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”
Shepherds came to visit. Luke 2:8-21“19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.“
Jesus teaching at the age of 12. Luke 2:41-51 “51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”
Jesus ensuring care for his mother. John 19:26-27
Read other posts on Cambodia here: https://sejanashines.com/category/service/missions/cambodia/