On her four-week placement with Tearfund Go in Cambodia, Kate Millar saw the power of loving people for the long run.
‘You can count the seeds inside an apple, but only God knows how many apples will grow from one seed.’
I sat there, listening to the sermon on our very first morning in Cambodia, exhausted from the journey and apprehensive about the month ahead. I felt so unequipped and out of my comfort zone, unsure of what was to come.
But as the words of the sermon were spoken, for a moment my worried thoughts and frantic prayers faded to the back of my mind. It was like God was saying to me, ‘See what I am doing here in Cambodia. I am planting seeds, and I know what fruit will come from them. You may not see it immediately, but trust that I know what I will make grow.’ This was the beginning of one of the biggest lessons God taught me during my time in Cambodia.
The power of youth
On my four-week placement with Tearfund Go I lived and worked alongside The Cambodian Hope Organisation (CHO). CHO, one of Tearfund’s partner organisations in Cambodia, is based in Poipet, a city on the border with Thailand. Poverty is everywhere, and human trafficking is a huge problem.
When I had the chance to talk to Mr. Chomno, the founder and director of CHO, I couldn’t help but catch his excitement for the vision God has given him. He would beam with joy when speaking about CHO’s school projects: Safe Haven School and School on a Mat. ‘Children are the future of Cambodia,’ he would say passionately.
CHO’s mission began with a call from God to rescue children who had been trafficked. Through God’s provision, they set up a safe house where the rescued children could be supported, protected and rehabilitated. This place was named Safe Haven, and, before their eyes, God began to bring transformation to the lives of the children.
A new approach
There came a point when Mr. Chomno felt a nudge from God to do something different. The safe house was changing the lives of individual children, but its impact was limited. It was too expensive to sustain long-term and didn’t deal with the root causes of trafficking in Cambodia.
Mr Chomno saw that if the whole of Cambodia was to be transformed, then the roots of the problem needed to be dealt with. This was when CHO’s mission changed from short-term rescue to long-term prevention.
So how do they do this? CHO seeks to tackle the root cause of trafficking, which is poverty. When people are in poverty, their need creates desperation. In the hope of money and a better life, this desperation can lead to people unknowingly allowing their children to be trafficked.
CHO’s projects focus on anti-trafficking education and providing skills that empower families to generate their own income. These projects exist to help the people of Cambodia lift themselves out of poverty, addressing the heart of the problem.
In Cambodia, I learnt that we won’t always see immediate change from our actions. Poverty isn’t something that can be ‘quick-fixed’. Instead we need to faithfully invest in loving people. At CHO, their projects invest in people's lives, showing love in practical ways.
For the month I was in Poipet, God showed me people who are devoted and faithful, investing in their communities, striving to bring sustainable change from the roots upwards and praying as they do it. When I was with CHO, I was blessed to be able to take part in their work and see the value of being part of such a long-term vision.
Now, back home in Scotland, I want to bring this God-centred, long-term vision into my life here. How can I do that? I can make changes to live more sustainably. I can invest in friendships in an intentional way. In its simplest form, it’s about being patient and steadfast and loving people for the long-run. It’s about taking the seeds God has given me and nurturing them so that he can bring fruit.
- Pray that CHO will continue to see God bringing fruit from their work as they break the chains of trafficking.
- Pray for strength, wisdom and learning for our current Tearfund Go volunteers serving alongside partners.
Want to join our partners in their long-term mission to see an end to poverty? Travel with Tearfund Go.