Cambodia: Tears of Love

I had an amazing time doing missions in Cambodia last week.

Going into the trip I was excited to release joy, freedom, and healing to the people of Cambodia, but as I reflect back on all God did through my team, I realize that the most powerful thing we brought to Cambodia was our love.

As it turned out, one of the ways I personally most powerfully displayed that love was through my tears.

(Yet again, God used my emotions. I’m starting to get used to it.)

While ministering house-to-house in the countryside,

my team encountered a joyful Christian family with an elderly grandma. She was mostly blind and deaf and seemed senile. As we prayed blessings over the family, another teammate and I went over to the grandma.

CambodiaSpouting gibberish, she jabbed me in the arm with her bony fingers while tenderly grasping my hand with her other hand, and tears just started running down my face. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying and I don’t think she could really see me, but as I looked deep into her cloudy eyes, I simply felt God’s love for her.

I knew people must dismiss her because of her physical/mental state, but I suddenly saw her the way God does, as fully alive and valuable.

In one sense, my tears didn’t seem very productiveShe didn’t even know I was crying for her. But I knew God was giving me His heart, and I felt privileged to receive it and to express it.

It soon became a pattern.

At another house, we shared about Jesus with a man taking care of his elderly parents.

I could tell he was touched seeing strangers love on his struggling parents by praying healing for them–his father’s eyes were shining with gratefulness after his hearing was significantly restored–but he said that he wasn’t interested in receiving Jesus because he thought all religions were equally good.

Literally two minutes later, he changed his mind and said he wanted to receive Jesus. (I don’t know what exactly went through his mind, but God was powerfully at work!) He shared how hard it had been caring for his parents, and as we laid our hands on him and prayed for him, I started audibly weeping.

The man himself wasn’t showing any emotion, but I couldn’t stop. I could feel his loneliness, the heaviness of his burden. I could feel his hopelessness, abandoned out here in the middle of nowhere with so much responsibility and so little help. And I realized that God was showing the man through my tears that He felt all of his sorrow.

The last time I wept in Cambodia was for a young man at our final revival service.

Team members called out youth from the congregation to pray over them. This was a first for me, so I was a little nervous about who to choose. But as I scanned the crowd, a teenage boy caught my eye.

He was whispering and laughing a little with a buddy, so I was a little afraid he wouldn’t want to come up, but as I looked at him, I started to tear up. That was when I knew I had to choose him. Even if I had to drag him to the front.

Turned out, I didn’t have to drag him. We made eye contact, and I smiled, waving him forward. He came obediently, humbly, uncertainty in his steps. The translator drew close as I laid my hand on his shoulder to pray. And then I burst into tears.

Cambodia roadI think that’s the first time I truly understood what a mother’s heart feels like. I could see this boy’s future stretched out before us, the road he was meant for and another road he might get lured down instead. I wanted so deeply for him to choose rightly, for him to know how important he was in God’s eyes, how important his choice was.

When I finally gained controlled of my voice, I spoke intently in his ear, “You were made to be a protector, to make others feel safe.” I gripped his shoulder as the translator translated. “You are pure. You have a pure heart. Use your strength to protect those around you.”

As he went back to his seat, I felt God whisper, You just changed that young man’s life, and my heart nearly burst within me.

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Elizabeth is an American living in South Korea who believes in destiny, miracles, and living life intentionally. She holds to simple faith in a complex world, values the beauty of the everyday, and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is always learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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