We have just spent a week backpacking through Cambodia. We had to cross the border again for visa reasons and decided to spend some time in the country this time, rather than walking into a customs office and out again.
This was a week that without exaggeration will change our family forever. We first went to the capital of Cambodia, Phenom Phen
. Here we went to the Killing Fields. There are many places around Cambodia with this name but the one we went to is the largest. The largest because of the number of Cambodian people that were killed there. In 1975 ( only 32 years ago) Polpot
and the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia. Their trucks literally
rolled into the city and ordered people to leave their homes and to head to the country areas. Little children were playing hopscotch in the streets, others were shopping and cooking their next meal. All were ordered to leave and thus began 4 years of unimaginable pain and suffering for the Cambodian people. Polpot
wanted a new country. A country where people did not think for themselves. A country where there was no religion, no outside influence, no individualism. The people lost the freedom to chose their own clothes, each were issued with a set of black clothes. Schools were used as places of torture and temples desecrated
. Anyone who was educated was killed. After being tortured (to get information as to the whereabouts of their family) they were commanded to kneel, hands tied behind their backs and hit with farming tools, so as to save money on bullets. Doctors, teachers, lawyers even his own men who were educated were slaughtered
leadership. Those who wore glasses (and therefore thought to be intellectual) were killed. Children of the educated (they were apparently smart by association) were killed also. We were told this history, and were overwhelmed. Overwhelmed because unlike the times that we hear of news on the television, we were looking at the skulls of these people.
We could see the hole the hoe or pick or bamboo stick left in the skull, when the person was beaten to death. We saw the clothes that belonged to the victims. We walked next to their graves. We walked around the holes in the ground that young
and old Cambodians just years before were often thrown
alive on top of many other people and then covered with soil. We walked around the edges of these graves, and our guide (my age) would stop and pick up a tooth or a bit of bone or clothing and show it too us. While he had told many people this story before...he was visibly moved as he picked up a tooth and showed it to our children.
Our children were quiet, Colin and I were quiet. Our guide told us of the thousands of people who died from starvation and hard physical work. Our guide slowly and quietly told of how he was a baby and barely stayed alive being fed by his mother. His stomach was protruding and his head enlarged. He would stop talking periodically and take our girls hands and smile to them. Later he told us that he had no sisters and that was why he liked our girls.
He told us about the children who were brainwashed and taught to kill. Children our children's age. Jordan asked if they would have had to kill their parents and brothers and sisters and our guide sadly said yes. The guide went on to explain that the children would not have known they were doing so, such was the brainwashing of Polpot's soldiers. At the end of our time there, we were asked to buy incense and pray to Buddha for the people of Cambodia. We bought the incense, and knelt as a family outside the building holding the thousands of skulls and other bones. We prayed to God, our Heavenly Father, who we knew was grieving more intensely than we were. We prayed for the future of Cambodia. We prayed for the Christians in Cambodia, that they would be bold and loving and they would tell a new story to the people. We prayed that the smoke coming from the incense would be similar to God's love, that it would waft through the country and settle on people and give them a love they have never experienced.
I write this blog hoping that you...our family and friends would you pray the same thing for Cambodia and other countries around the world? Perhaps like our family you need to educate yourself and your family further. Christians need to understand how important education is in order for our families to pray...to really pray seriously for these people. In Micah 6:8 it says that God requires us to 'Seek justice". I wonder if we forget that some of our 'seeking justice' is to pray for it. To cry out to God to bring His justice to these countries. We are realizing that there is much to pray for around our world....we just don't open our eyes, ears or hearts to the pain. We long to pray better and to teach our children to pray....but we so often can't get past 'Thank you for the fun day and help us to sleep well and have a great day tomorrow....Amen' prayers. Please begin to research your world, to hear the stories of your brothers and sisters around the world who need you to pray for them. I have a friend who would always say that the best way to have God answer your prayer is to pray for what God wants. Let us pray for God's will to be done here on earth as it is done in heaven. Let us pray that God's kingdom...his ways....his justice will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. I believe God wants justice around the world. I believe God wants Christians to be bold in the way they live and love and serve. I believe God longs for leaders to turn to him for guidance. I believe that God longs for people deprived of dignity to know they are valuable and worthwhile. If you believe this, then join with our family as we pray for these things. The Karen people need you to pray, the Cambodians need you to pray, those without a home in Melbourne city need you to pray, and many others do also. So...let us pray.