I frequently get asked how I can cope with the things I see here in Cambodia. I’ve had to deal with difficult situations when people are around and they seemingly marvel at how I just push through it. People come and they see where the kids live and often they need to stop, they struggle to process the dramatic difference and inequality they see.
Back in July of 2014 we had a team of 7 young women who came and camped out at our center. They spent their days keeping kids busy while I took all the staff into my office to do training sessions. As the month progressed I got a chance to read their individual blogs and I was somewhat surprised to read how frustrating our kids were to them. How they struggled with the wildness of our kids and how dirty they were and how they lacked the sense of personal boundaries many people in America grow up with. They were quite obviously frustrated.
How do I handle it? To be frank, I’m not always totally sure, but I do have an idea.
The first thing people say is that I must be desensitized to it. I might be a little, but I don’t think that’s it. I hurts every day when I have to drop kids off with their families and leave them to another night on the street. I go through emotional pain and mourning every time a kid is no longer a part of our program. Working out here hurts in many ways.
The next thing people come around to is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Again that’s part of it, but not in the way people assume. God is not giving me some supernatural ability to cope with all the suffering out here. Surely He strengthens me and enables me and has equipped me, but it’s not this sudden ability He dropped on me.
The reality is that it all comes right back to my favorite piece of scripture.
FOR WE KNOW THAT IN ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.
This is where God has called me and he has been preparing me my whole life to be right here, where I am right now. The experiences of my childhood up through college and the first years outside the USA were all used by God to prepare me and enable me to the work that He has put before me to according to HIS PURPOSE.
I look at these kids and I just see kids that live in unfortunate places, but just need extra love and attention. When difficult situations arise my brain instantly starts looking for ways to solve the problem. I remind myself that sometimes there are some pretty dire consequences if I choose not to take action, but also remind myself that sometimes tough choices have unfortunate ends and whatever choice I make, God will keep working through it. When I am ready to feel overcome by hopelessness, then I remember that when I am weak and when I have failed, that is when God carries me through so that I know He is still working through ALL THINGS.
I remember the little children’s lesson I’ve done so many times where I give a high five to one kid, who gives a high five to several more and they keep giving high fives to the people around them. I alone can’t change the world and share God’s love with absolutely everyone. I share God’s love with the ones He puts in front of me and trust that His love is powerful enough to just keep on moving.
And if His love isn’t powerful enough to keep pushing me on when confronted by the craziest kids in the world and the suffering in it, then what’s to point of getting out there and sharing it?
Greg Holz is the Mission Director for Crossing Cambodia. He drives our vision and seeks out the resources necessary for the local staff in Cambodia to follow God’s calling as we serve the street children of Battambang.