We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:1 & 7
Once again I am way behind in getting out a newsletter and sharing with you all that has been going on in Cambodia. But here is an update of what we’re up to now and how our ministry is working.
Back in August we started a new school year and officially launched Epiphany Preschool as we seek to more adequately reach into the lives of the street children of Battambang. This year we have 11 children we are sponsoring to attend school and another 10 children in our preschool project. We also have 6 full-time staff managing our center and caring for each one of these children that we reach out to.
Often times when explaining our program to people I am asked two questions about our program.
Why do you have so many staff?
Could you add more children to your program?
Let me share part of my story to get you to the answers.
When I was a child I was diagnosed with ADHD. I often struggled in school because I found it difficult to focus and get myself organized. What made things worse for me was that I was diagnosed with ADHD right at the time when many parents were looking for reasons why their kids were hyper or not paying attention in school and many unqualified doctors began making that diagnosis to placate those parents. So there were even teachers in my life who ignored my struggles and wrote me off as being lazy because they believed ADHD was just an invented disability or that I was one of the many children diagnosed with it because it was popular to do so at the time. Add on a tendency to be very awkward in social situations and I became a kid that often wanted to just withdraw from the world and hide away.
I can assure you I do indeed have ADHD. I have been seen by other specialists and it has been confirmed. ADHD is very real, but I don’t look at it as a disability, it just means my brain works differently from the other 99% of people on earth. And in order for me to have succeeded in life I needed people to take time out and sit down with me and make a plan that would work according to the way I see the world and how my brain processes information. I still struggle, but I have many coping strategies and a fantastic family and group of people working around me that support me and make up for my shortcomings.
One of the many reasons why I believe in God and believe that we can never fully comprehend His unique plan and infinite creativity is the fact that every being on this earth is so unique. That no two people will ever create the exact same piece of art or work of literature and no two people will make the exact same decisions in every situation. However as humans in our “natural” state we often are always seeking conformity, for things to be the same. Children will draw the same stick figure 40 times when drawing a crowd and we are always looking for one solution to all the world’s problems. However, the big one size fits all solutions that people had tried with me for years never seemed to work out. It was when a few people took time out to sit down with me and find a solution just for me that I finally started to figure things out.
As God led me to Cambodia He introduced me to these street families and I watched as other people sought to help these children with solutions that were being applied to hundreds, even thousands of other children just in Cambodia. And I watched as these solutions failed and realized that just like when I was a child, they need a unique solution. They need a little more attention. They have different problems from 90% of the children in Cambodia and the solution that works for 30 children in a village, or 50 children in an orphanage, will not work for a child living on the streets. Even the solution for the child on the sidewalk may not work for the one squatting in the abandoned railroad station. God allowed me to struggle and to discover my unique solution so that I’d be able to recognize the need for unique solutions with kids thousands of miles and in a wholly different culture from where I grew up.
So this school year we have 6 full-time staff because we are not administering one solution to 21 children, we are creating 21 solutions for 21 children. All the children are organized into small groups of 4 to 6 kids and each of those groups has one full-time staff person whose job it is to care for these children like family and help us figure out what the solution is for that child, and each of those advocates then has our local director who cares for them and helps them when they need it too.
And yes, we can add more children, and eventually we will, but we hope to remain small so that each of the children involved in our program knows that everyone in our center knows who they are and just how important they are to us. When you have many children it becomes easy for one child, like I did when I was a child, to withdraw and hide away from everyone.
So this year we are pushing forward with our small groups of children. We are looking for unique solutions for each child, and trusting in God’s plan that He is going to teach these children so that when the Word of God and His Love take root in their hearts, that they will take that love and carry it forward to all the world!
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.