“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1
It was Friday in Phnom Penh, the sun high in the clear blue sky. On this day of new life, we were reminded of dark days of Cambodia’s past. Our team stood in front of the Choeung Ek Memorial Stupa looking up at some of the 9,000 skulls that filled the memorial reminding us of the mass killings of Khmer Rouge. Following our guide, we walked around the mass graves stopping frequently to learn about the innocent lives that were taken for reasons that my mind will never be able to comprehend.
As I walked alongside the group, I thought about all that I had experienced this week. I thought about the people that I had met and the spirit of the youth, a generation of people who are now shaping the future of Cambodia.
I stand behind the group staring across the pitted fields. Looking down at the ground, I see pieces of bones still coming through the dirt, new fragments that appear with every rainfall. Strips of clothing peek through patches of grass and dirt. As I look out upon the group listening to the horrific details of the Khmer Rouge, something else emerges. I can hear the songs of birds high in the trees. I see butterflies zigzagging in and out of wild shrubbery. Voices of Cambodian children echo from a nearby schoolyard into the solemn grounds of the killing fields. These children will never know the pain that their parents and grandparents endured. As we stand in silence, light emerges from the darkness that has left a lasting mark on the Cambodian culture.
That life. Those signs of hope. The new vegetation. The children. They are a representation of the spirit of the Cambodian people. They illustrate the ministry of the church in Cambodia and the joy and passion of the youth that our team experienced this week. But most importantly, these things represent how through death and destruction, faith and love prevail and bring hope to these beautiful people. Although I felt great pain for the lives that had been taken by the Khmer Rouge, my sorrow was overcome by the joy that I now have in my heart because of leadership of the Cambodian Methodist Youth and the presence of organizations like International Justice Mission in this country.
This day was a day of laughter. It was a day of tears. It was a day of reflection. And it was a day filled with hope for the Cambodian people. May peace be our mission and Christ’s love be our guide.
God is good. God is real good.