So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. ~~ John 18:12"Many people who thought I died during Pol Pot are just to know I am alive," Mrs. Sophal shared with me about re-connecting with friends in the Battambong region where she traveled to conduct a workshop in leadership development for the CHAD program of the Methodist Mission in Cambodia. She and I are driving to another church visit when she received a call from one of these friends.
"Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver-- let him rescue the one in whom he delights!" ~~ Psalm 22:8
"We got separated and they thought I had died like my brother."
Mrs. Sophal's brother was a Christian (the only one in her family, and one of very few in Cambodia) before the Khmer Rouge took over the country. He was captured and executed by the Pol Pot regime. The way she tells the story is thus. "They bound his hands, but only loosely. So, he was able to escape a bit to the forest where he prayed before they killed him."
She continues the story by saying that mental illness is a burden for people in Cambodia, especially women. "Women can't release their burden, they just keep thinking, and this causes mental problem. Many times during Pol Pot, I wanted to kill myself, but I thought about my younger sister, what would happen to her if I died." Today, Mrs. Sophal says she can release her burdens through prayer modeled by her brother and by Jesus. She shares this faith with others in Cambodia, with the hope that they can also find release.
Mrs. Sophal's own conversion happened much later, in response to God answering her prayers for healing the sight of man in her community development project. But, the inspiration of her brother, his faith and his prayers, helped to shape her and her understanding that even in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can cast our burdens upon God and find freedom.
by Katherine Parker
A devotional reflection for Good Friday Year B