The odyssey to the village

Yesterday, Doug and I were tasked with being ambassadors for “The Organization”. So we loaded up in the Pathfinder and headed out. After navigating through the busy Phnom Penh traffic we set out on the main highway heading toward a remote village. Along the way one of the many one lane bridges was under repair so we sat waiting to cross the bridge for about 20 minutes. We knew that we were also going to need to take a ferry to get to this village so we stopped for lunch before we proceeded.

When we got to the ferry station we found 2 fishing boats with a wood plank deck built on top. There was room for mopeds on one end, people on the other and 1 truck or van in the middle. Our truck covered the entire width of the ferry. After a leisurely crossing, we unloaded and within a few minutes we found our way to a fork in the road.

Doug & I on the Ferry

After being pointed in the right direction, we found ourselves staring down a very muddy and rutted up road. No problem for the 4x4. We got through it and met one of the village leaders at the community center. He told that he would meet us at the school which was in the opposite direction of which we had just come. So back through the mud and down the road to the school.

The school also had a pagoda on the grounds. We met with the school officials and they agreed to build a rainwater tank on the school grounds. This will open the doors for “The Organization” to go back and do ongoing education about water safety, and health. It is also the prayer of “The Organization” that during these educational meetings to have the opportunity to share biblical stories and the Gospel.

Pagoda in a local village

After leaving the school, we proceeded further into the village to see some of the families that have “The Organization” wells. We were able to see the effects of long-term arsenic ingestion has caused in these people. It causes skin discoloration and sores, but also cancer and organ failure. The wells that “The Organization” dug are shallow wells that do not tap into the groundwater that is contaminated with arsenic.

So the point to this whole story. There is part of me that thinks that all the things that “The Organization” doing are wonderful. They are improving the quality of life for people around Cambodia. They are also using their relationships to share the Gospel with those who have never heard of Christ. But part of me wondered why so much was put behind the water filters and education. Then the answer came to me.

If the people die before they can make a decision for Christ then what’s the point. Also by “The Organization” meeting the physical needs of the people, it makes it that much easier to meet their spiritual needs. The concept is foreign to most Americans. Many may not believe in Christ but a vast majority has at least heard. Here, the idea of a God that loves them is foreign. So for many, it takes the relationship that is built through the multiple avenues that “The Organization” employs to make the Gospel come alive to them. It ceases from being just another story to being The Truth.