Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stuck in the mud

by Katherine Parker
I was really humbled about 2 weeks ago when I went to visit with a new cluster of churches in the hills near Kirirom (Kampong Speu province).

I got the truck stuck in the mud and it was the one where the 4 wheel drive is busted, so I couldn't get it out on my own. This was only my second time to meet with these folks so they didn't really know me yet nor I them, but they got straight to work pulling out hoes to try and dig out the stuck wheel and machete to cut branches to try and get some traction, all to no avail.

Finally someone went off by moto and came back with a winch which they tied to a small papaya tree and took turns cranking until they had pulled the truck out. I was humbled by the entire experience but not least because one of the most active men out there digging out the tires was an amputee who had lost his leg in the war.

This man is now the leader of the men's group at his nearby church and quite a charismatic guy. While I am still just getting to know him, I heard in his sharing during the workshop that he has faced a lot of difficulty and discrimination and depression. I spent more time chatting with his wife who is a new Christian believer. I can see that she has joined the church in large part because she is inspired by the transformation it has made for her husband. She told me about her job collecting lotus plants and bringing them to market (they live on an island), and how most of the burden of supporting the family falls to her because her husband can't work as hard as other men (which is likely true although he is by no means lazy and was very active with the truck rescue).

Being there and part of the two day workshop and fellowship was very inspiring to the wife. She asked for prayers to strengthen her new faith, which I took also to be about prayers for how she could continue to help her husband in his transformation towards the inspiration for life he has found through his faith and with his leadership roll in the church.

The main focus for the first day of the workshop was studying the story of the Good Samaritan and talking about the question of "who is my neighbor" and "how do we work together." Yet as the facilitator, I was humbled that the group members acted out the story as they rescued my truck even before we started the lesson.

The dialogue was rich. We told the story of the Good Samaritan many times in several ways. Participants talked about the challenges of supporting friends and neighbors with drug and alcohol problems and encouraged each other to continue in this work. One participant commented that as members of a minority religious group, Christians in Cambodia are also outsiders like the Samaritans were. Others were interested when in a modern re-enactment I asked the narrator to substitute Khmer for Jew and Vietnamese for Samaritan. One participant commented that they now knew that anyone, even a Vietnamese, can show compassion and help someone in need. And even I, with my fancy truck, was in need of help.

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