I told Breanna, "I don't know why that phrase makes me feel so happy!"
She laughed, "It SHOULD make you happy!"
Dr. David Jeremiah, Founder of Turning Point Ministries and Senior Pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church in the San Diego area, helped us spread God's love on this trip by donating a simple little tool that has turned out to be a huge hit with both the kids and adults.
After writing the book "God Loves You: He Always Has, He Always Will" last year, he set a goal to reach as many people as possible with this simple message. He graciously gave us 1200 silicone bracelets bearing this clear message, to deliver to the villages, orphanages, schools and towns in Cambodia. The bracelets have brought smile after smile to their recipients, and the message on thier wrists is a constant remider, each day, that God truly does love them...eternally.
Here in Cambodia, the idea of an eternal God is foreign, and the idea of a God that loves them, whether or not they do anything to deserve it is an even more bizarre concept. Buddhism is deeply imbedded into the very fiber of Cambodian culture, a form of Buddhism that attributes life's difficulities to one's own failings in a past life. Buddhism is a religion of self, not of community. Those who have, have because of their achievements in a past life and therefore can be selfish with what they have. Those who have not, do not have the means to do enough good to change their status for the next life, and as a result have little hope.
In addition to a culture deeply wounded by mass genocide, civil wars and instability, the deep level of poverty for the average Cambodian is staggering. There is little hope here. Past traditions stemming from Hinduism and animistic religions view "spirits" and deceased ancestors as beings requiring apeasement in order to avoid further calamity, not as loving spirits to turn to in times of crisis. To truly understand that there is ONE GOD who existed before time, whose power is limitless, who LOVES US and can intervene on our behalf would change the face of this beautiful country forever. From isolation springs relationship, from despair springs hope. This is the hope that we desire to bring to these precious people.