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Where the Surreal is Reality

by davidnliney on Mar.20, 2012, under All

As Told by Volunteer, Nikki Kirk

Standing outside of Selah house stood four women: a young American student, a Cambodian social worker, an Indonesian training center coordinator and a Korean American mom.  All of different backgrounds & cultures, but with the same heart and one goal … to find children for the safe house who are at risk of being trafficked or who have had a traumatic experience and need healing.

As we gathered together to start our excursion to the villages, we invited our elderly tuk tuk driver to join us in a prayer.  He had been diligently duct taping the roof of the seated wagon to the poles that were holding it up, but obliged us as we began.  The roads to the many villages are not paved & the conditions put a tremendous beating on the vehicle which is why he was preoccupied.  We pray for guidance, discernment & His grace, as we journey out with hope.

Entering the villages, everything seems surreal.  I feel like I’m on a movie set depicting a historical war, just waiting for the director to yell cut and the backdrop & props would be rolled away.  But the reality of actual families living in these one room shacks sink in and it’s hard to believe that in this century, people still live in these conditions.  I also wonder if the guests at the luxury resort hotel that we just passed by, know who their real neighbors are.  They look out into their backyard forest, ordering room service in their deluxe suite, but do they truly see?

As we further our journey, the children greet us with curious looks & timid smiles.  Some of them in their limited English say hello back to us.  We hand out lollipops from our bags and each child replies with a happy thank you.  The highlight of their day was probably receiving this treat and some of the children call out to their friends & siblings to hurry and get a sweet, that’s what they called it.

We proceed to talk to families and village leaders.  We tell them why we are here and listen to stories of personal incidents.  More importantly, we ask them about any children whose situation might put them at risk of being a potential victim.

The toughest part of my day was visiting a family who lived next to a prison.  The father was a guard there and their three-year-old daughter was abducted & violated.  While listening to her story, I didn’t even realize that there were tears on my cheek, until one of my friends pointed it out.  I quickly composed myself to gather her information, write it down, and to take a picture of her for my report.  I don’t know if it hit close to home because I have a baby girl the same age or if it was because I was staring at such an innocent little face or seeing how small she was, but it broke my heart into pieces.  The shattered sound played into my soul knowing what she has endured and realizing that she didn’t even know what was happening to her.  But I was there to give support & to try to help, so I needed to remain strong.

In the end, it was these daily trips to the many villages that we visited over the course of a few days that I can say were one of the most productive & meaningful times in my life.  I felt closest that I had ever felt to Him, seeking Him, asking daily for strength, understanding the bigger picture, and pleading for guidance and hope.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this group of strong, spirit filled women who all have a tender heart for the children.  I am both humbled and proud to call them my sisters.

As I pray the children in, I await the day when I will return back to Selah House.  I look forward to see it filled with the smiling faces of children who know that they are loved, have a true purpose in their life and a bright future.  Until then, my heart is filled with joy as I hear about the progress of two of the little girls that I have photos of from my trip.  I know that they have been received into Selah House and that they are a blessing to us all.

 

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An Encounter with Hope

by davidnliney on Feb.04, 2012, under All

As Told by Volunteer: Ashley K. Keating

The first thing that comes to mind now when I think of Global Renewal is a picture of a lighthouse with light shining out throughout the whole countryside. This took on a literal term as I met two beautiful girls who where given situations in life that resembled ashes, ashes in the form of abuse, poverty, and neglect.  Although both of their backgrounds were different they dealt with the ever looming chance of been trafficked.  The beauty in their story comes in when I saw them standing in Selah House playing and radiating a smile that resembled God’s glory.  There they were playing and dancing free from the ashes that they where found in.  This was just the beginning of my understanding of the hope and the future that Global Renewal is bringing through the word of Jesus Christ.

Throughout my time in Cambodia I was able to visit the villages and get to know the people throughout the community.  They opened their homes and hearts desperate to hear of hope and opportunity that could rescue their families from the grip of poverty.  Although the task at hand that Global Renewal has undertaken is not a task for the weak there is a hunger for Gods word and for hope of a better tomorrow which drives the students I met at the training center and at the Selah house to keep going.  Everyday they put on their armor before going out and by watching each one of them you can see the discipline, the desire and the dedication they each have to bring the hope of Jesus Christ to their homeland, Cambodia.  The hope they bring through being a living witness in the actions and their words.

One very telling story to me was an encounter I had in the villages at a karaoke bar where girls were trafficked nightly.  I sat down and begin to interact with a beautiful woman around my age, 28.  She sat their telling me of the story of how she did not finish school and had only a fourth grade education.  This really spoke to me because I am a fourth grade educator.  She began telling me of how her son lived with her mother hours away and how her husband had abandoned her and she now had to work at the bar for money to send to her mother.  Tears began to gush from her soul and despair clinched her face.  I was amazed at what I was witnessing because I had just two years prior been abandoned by my husband during my pregnancy and I was raising my two sons single.  Our lives were very different but yet very similar we understood the despair that follows brokenness.  As we spoke that night for what seemed like hours I began seeing a hunger rise up in her for a new opportunity.  She wanted to leave the bar scene but having the bar owner looming over us trying to listen to our conversation, in fear that one of her “girls” and potential money could be lost,  was an ever present reminder to her

of the current circumstance.  As we said our goodbyes, tears streamed down both our faces for it seemed as through we had known each other for years. Knowledge of her hope to leave the bar and seek a better opportunity spread and she was able to get resources to help her into a new vocation.

Ashley and a GR student

These stories are just a few of the examples of the light that Global Renewal is spreading throughout the communities in Cambodia and where there is light the darkness has to flee.

 

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God’s Provision=Luxury

by davidnliney on Jan.28, 2012, under All

As Told by Volunteer, Rachel Guzy

Nothing could have prepared me for this trip to Cambodia until I walked it out, and it was the more phenomenal than I ever imagined.

I felt prepared since first hearing about the epidemic of human trafficking in Cambodia.  I wanted to know more and wondered how we as Americans could allow slavery to exist on any level, anywhere in the world!!

Being the first time to travel to Asia, I learned about Cambodia before arriving in June 2011, as well as human trafficking as it existed there.  I felt ready, but soon learned that readiness and preparation failed to prepare my heart and eyes for what I experienced.

Although there are many differences between myself and Asians, that didn’t seem to matter.  I felt love.  The natives I interacted with were quiet and reserved yet made their presence known through their hospitality.  They are overly generous with the little they posses.  Much can be learned from this people.

As I visited members of the church, although, I had an interpreter, if that were necessary, it didn’t matter I couldn’t communicate in their language or them in mine.  I later learned we were both well versed in the language of love.  We were warmly welcomed into a member’s home.  Even though it was my first time to meet this family, I felt as though I was catching up with an old friend.  We sat on the floor as the grandmother began to share the many ways in which God has provided for her.  I wanted that, too!!  I thought how easily accessible it is for us to just go to the doctor when we are sick because we can afford the payment of that in some way or another.  Here, they don’t have that luxury.  God’s provision is their luxury.

I was asked to teach English to the Bible school students in their facility every night.  I was reluctant to teach.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is not what I came here to do, I had not prepared for it, nor do I have the slightest clue as to how to begin teaching, let alone building rapport with people I couldn’t communicate with.  I do not want to do this.’  I quickly learned that structured lessons were of no benefit because they would just write/repeat what I would write/say without knowing the meaning.  The change had to first start with me and so I adapted.  We were active in learning; I taught them the hokey pokey, and we enjoyed each other.  Teaching was on the forefront of my mind when I woke up, went to sleep, anytime I was not teaching, I was thinking about teaching and what I would teach the students next.  They were so hungry for it.  They pulled everything out of me; I left them not knowing what else to teach.

By this time, I had forgotten all about the reason I went there, until plans were made for me to take a trip to the safe house.  Now I didn’t want to go.  The day after our arrival at the safe house, Trully and I, headed out to local remote villages.  I experienced things in these villages; my story does no justice for.  I learned that these people have nothing because they don’t know better and if you don’t know better, how can you do better?  It is impossible without an education or freedom from oppression.  And if you think it is so simple to get an education there, think again.  While school is free, if the students do not pay the teachers, the teachers will fail the students.  So what is a child to do when faced with poverty in a nation where $60 per month is excellent pay?  “Get a job,” they say.  Well if it was only that easy.  Whatever your hands find to do that day is what you do.

Walking the “bar area” (which really means prostitution area), I wanted to know what I could observe.  Acting as though we had no idea as to where we were, we met a young woman, 14 years old.  My mind was racing with how I could save this child from slavery.  I mentioned that if she would leave me her contact information I would teach her English by writing simple letters and she was delighted.

I brought this issue to the attention of the Chackos upon our return to the training center.  As we debriefed, I realized that my idea  to rescue this girl and the others involved would not be beneficial at that time.  I wanted this child out of situation badly, but I didn’t want to have to prosecute the bar owner we also spoke to.  She was working in this condition out of means to meet a need. I was confused until I reminded Liney she told me to pray for my own victim of trafficking and this was the answered prayer and that she had to do something.

We decided that on the next trip to visit this girl, we would share with her the plans we made to have her stay at our safe house and I would sponsor her education (of $15 per month), with the condition that she not return to that work. (NOTE: We are still following up on this case–please pray for her freedom.–GR Team)

I left Cambodia, sad!!  I regretted not extending my trip.  I was not prepared for this night.  I cried with the students that shared how I impacted their lives.  This trip is forever engraved in my memory, never to be forgotten.

Since being home, God has not stopped His work in me.  He is showing me more and more His love and provision that is unique to me.  I pray that I will return to Cambodia some day

 

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The Slums–A Place of Extravagant Joy (11.04.11)

by davidnliney on Jan.04, 2012, under All

As told by a GR Volunteer–SUSAN A. THOMAS

One day, I had the opportunity to visit the slums with Kim Cheng and another student.  The first area we went to was flooded with thick brown water; until then, I had never witnessed a flood.  There were slum homes (with open windows and doorways) lining up the alley with logged water trespassing through the inside of the homes   Where did all the residents go, I wondered.  The students will forge through despite the floods (if they are on a motorbike) but since we were in a tuk tuk (google it :-) ), we could not go.  I was both upset and relieved.  Upset because of all the things I had the opportunity to do in Cambodia, this could have been the most fulfilling; and relieved because of the fear I had of entering into murky waters that would cover me up to my waist.  To my comfort, Kim Cheng did not give up; instead he turned around and went to another neighborhood.  There was trash everywhere.  People lived in 200 sq. ft rooms – that was the whole house.  It had wooden planks as floors – underneath which there was no foundation.  The wooden planks had spaces between them, underneath was the earth filled with trash.  They would slide little pieces of trash through the space in the planks and so they lived above and around trash.  The stench was awful.

There, we visited this lady who was on fire for God and her Buddhist mother.  The mother is 78 years old.  We had a chance to talk to them for some time – of course I could not talk much because of the language barrier.  Before we left, one of the students who were with me, Kim Cheng, asked the grandmother if there was anything she wanted to bring up in prayer – she said her legs were giving incredible pain.  So, he prayed for her.  Under normal circumstances, we would have left after the prayer but for some divine purpose, I was suddenly led to ask if she would like for me to massage her legs.  There was no forethought of this request; rather, the question just flowed from my breath as if I were being guided physically to speak out loud.  When Kim Cheng translated the message to the grandmother, she nodded in response.   So, I showed Kim Cheng and the other student how to massage and all three of us began massaging her.  The experience I had during this time is difficult to explain but was incredibly fulfilling.  Because there was a language barrier, I did not talk much; instead, I spent those quiet moments in prayer.  I suppose it must have been the prayer and the Holy Spirit’s impression upon me that enabled me to take the bare feet of this stranger and rub it with so much compassion and love.  I began to feel so much love flowing through me; it was overwhelming.  We spent a good 30 minutes or so massaging her legs and back in 90-degree weather in an enclosed room with no air condition.  My shirt was drenched in sweat and sweat stains even soaked through my pants; the grandmother kept saying that it felt so good.  I could see in her eyes that she had such gratitude for our labor of love.  I could not have been more fulfilled.  She said that the pain is so severe at night that she cannot sleep.   I told her that Jesus loves her and for her to ask Jesus to heal her in the middle of the night when she feels the pain.  She just nodded and smiled.  I don’t really know what we did for her – the language barrier made it difficult to communicate – but I could tell by her arms around me and the gratitude in her eyes that she felt loved.  What better thing can you do for a person?

Then the King will say,
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored,
that was Me—you did it to Me.
Matthew 25

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What is it?

by davidnliney on Mar.09, 2011, under All

And I see. At least a bit more. When we find ourselves groping along, famished for more, we can choose. When we are despairing, we can choose to live as Israelites gathering manna. For forty long years, God’s people daily eat manna—a substance whose name literally means “What is it?” Hungry, they choose to gather up that which is baffling. They fill on that which has no meaning. More than 14,600 days they take their daily nourishment from that which they don’t comprehend. They find soul-filling in the inexplicable.

They eat the mystery.

They eat the mystery.

And the mystery, that which made no sense, is “like wafers of honey” on the lips.

I think of buried babies and broken, weeping fathers over graves, and a world pocked with pain, and all the mysteries I have refused, refused, to let nourish me. If it were my daughter, my son? Would I really choose the manna? I only tremble, wonder. With memories of gravestones, of combing fingers through tangled hair, I wonder too … if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

To see through to God.

That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.

Maybe so.

But how? How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places? To more-God places?

How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion…an emptier, fuller life?

To fully live—to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly.

I now see and testify. So this story—my story. A dare to an emptier, fuller life.

Excerpt from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp

 

Photo by Thomas Fideler

 

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You’re Invited!

by davidnliney on Dec.09, 2010, under All

The Tower Club

A Celebration of Hope
February 18, 2011 /  7pm
The Tower Club
1601 Elm Street, 48th Fl.
Dallas, TX 75201

You can be a huge part of giving hope to victims of human trafficking in Cambodia—children who have been violated for profit. Children who need another chance. We recently established a safe house in western Cambodia and can’t wait to see it filled with the music of unfettered little feet and unrestrained laughter…Celebrating Hope.

Here are some of the projects you’ll be supporting:

  • Educational Scholarships: $100/child for one year
  • Safe House set-up cost: $3,000
  • Safe House monthly budget: $2,200
  • Vehicles for Safe House: $15,000
  • Shipment of goods to Cambodia for Safe House: $3000
  • We look forward to seeing you at our special event, but we want to let you in on a special opportunity.

    We will be hosting 300 guests that night but in order to make it a huge success, we want to invite you to be a partner.

    • Be a business sponsor for the benefit dinner.
    • Sponsor a table*. You get to invite 4 of your favorite couples to spend a memorable evening with you.
    • Donate in-kind gifts that we can use for our silent auction.

    What do you get in return?

    • You get to be a part of a remarkable event and a great cause.
    • You will be blessed. Really.
    • Your donation will be publicly acknowledged at our event through a prominent note in our program. Your business will benefit from the community goodwill generated by your donation to the cause.

    We’ve made sponsorship very accessible.

    • There are three levels: $500, $1000, and $2500+.
    • All levels will receive two complimentary tickets to the event.

    We would be grateful for your support. A safehouse is more than a building–it’s many hearts determined to give back hope and life…it’s YOU and US making a difference.

    If you’re interested in being one of our event sponsors or contributing an in-kind gift, please email our Event Chair – Nikki Kirk: info@globalrenewal.org

    Or give us a call at  1.469.684.0477

    * Tickets are $100/person and registration will begin on 12/12/2010.

    www.globalrenewal.org/benefitdinner

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    Princess Ruthie

    by davidnliney on Aug.15, 2010, under All

    “…the Kingdom of God really looks like one smiling child at a time until nations are full of people who are passionate lovers of God.” Heidi Baker

    Josiah, Ruthie, Megan, and Timothy

    Many of you have been asking for an update on Tete—now referred to as Ruthie. When we arrived at the center on Tuesday, she ran, wrapped her sweet arms around me, and hugged me affectionately—it was moving. Ruthie looks healthier and is always happy. We’ve discovered more of her sad past though—it seems that for years, her mother chained her to a post and left her in her own refuse—drugged with sleeping pills to keep Ruthie quiet. The chain marks are still evident on her tender neck. It’s hard to imagine now—her insistent smile, her bright eyes, quick obedience, and almost palpable love belong to someone else—someone privileged enough to have be given a daily meal, bathed with loving hands, and dressed at least in underclothes…Ruthie was given none of this. Only a chain, scathing looks, curses, and abuse. But, she loves

    On the practical side, she needs dental work, a speech therapist, and special education. Ruthie doesn’t know of her needs—she only knows she’s in a place where no one dare hurt her again—a place where she dances and everyone applauds—a place where she’s the princess. Imagine being the only child in a house with 20 adult Bible students We just hope she doesn’t get too spoiled! So, it’s time to give Ruthie a home…and find more Ruthies. The safe-house project is on!

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    Let the Little Children Come

    by davidnliney on Jun.24, 2010, under All

    Today, sometime before daybreak, our 5 year old, Megan, climbed into our bed and held me-with both arms. She fell asleep that way, and I had no intention of escaping her clutches-in fact, I relished it. But my mind couldn’t really focus on the moment. You see, yesterday, our team in Cambodia adopted a little girl about the same age as our daughter. Her name is Tete. Last month while in Cambodia, we taught a local village on preventing human trafficking-it’s a village known for selling its children. That’s where we met this jewel.

    Love at first sight

    Tete...Love at first sight

    She was referred to as the “village idiot” because, mentally, she’s a bit slow. We noticed that the other villagers were rough with her. Upon further inquiry, we were informed that her caregiver (her grandmother) had sold Tete’s mother to be a sex slave-she died six months ago. Tete’s father is dying of AIDS. We couldn’t leave her there. So as of last night, Tete belongs to you and me.

    The first thing our team did was shave her hair—it was lice-infested. That’s when we noticed the scars from beatings on her head and bruises on her body. Tete needs diapers too-she doesn’t know how to use a toilet. After all that, she was taken to a doctor. He confirmed that she is not HIV positive (thank God) but has been raped. While the doctor was examining her, she screamed and cried. What was she remembering? Was she sold to the highest bidder like many other young girls? Or was she just used and abused since her life held no value to the villagers? My heart aches when I think of what she may have endured. Our prayer is that she will be healed, body soul, and spirit, by the love of Jesus. He loves Tete.

    SAFE

    SAFE

    So while I bask in a warm embrace and whiff strawberry-scented hair….I look forward to holding Tete and telling her how special she is; wiping her tears away; praying with her….But, there are many more Tetes…we can’t forget that. Human trafficking is real. Children are being scarred in more ways than we can imagine.  When we say there are 27 million victims of trafficking, we’re talking about the population of Australia …Insurmountable? No. With God, you and I will make a difference…just let the children come.

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    Summer Trip Itinerary

    by davidnliney on Jun.20, 2010, under All

    Summer 2010 Itinerary
    6 – 10 July Singapore Chackos, Gerald Morgon
    11 – 13 jul Siem Reap, Cambodia Chackos, Gerald Morgon
    14 – 22 Jul Phnom Penh, Cambodia Chackos, Gerald Morgon
    23 – 25 Jul Vietnam David Chacko, Gerald Morgon
    26 jul – 9 Aug Phnom Penh, Cambodia Chackos, Gerald, Phil and Marleen Pedroza
    08 – 13 Aug Indonesia Chackos, Anna Verbytska
    14 – 16 Aug Malaysia Chackos

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    The Vision

    by davidnliney on Jun.05, 2010, under All

    The vision is of an army of young people.

    You see bones?
    I see an army.

    And they are free from materialism—
    They laugh at nine-to-five little prisons.
    They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
    They wouldn’t even notice.
    They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the West was won.

    They are mobile like the wind.
    They belong to the nations.
    They need no passport.
    People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
    They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting, dirty and dying.

    What is the vision?
    The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.
    It makes children laugh and adults angry.
    It gave up the game of minimal integrity long ago to reach for the stars.
    It scorns the good and strains for the best.
    It is dangerously pure.

    Light flickers from every secret motive, from every conversation.
    It loves people away from their suicide leaps—their Satan games.

    This is an army that would lay down its life for the cause.
    A million times a day, its soldiers choose to lose that they might one day win the great “well done” of faithful sons and daughters.

    Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.

    They don’t need fame from names.
    Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: “COME ON!”
    And this is the sound of the underground, the whisper of history in the making, foundations shaking, revolutionaries dreaming once again.
    Mystery is scheming in whispers, conspiracy is breathing…
    This is the sound of the underground.

    And the army is disciple(in)ed—
    Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
    Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.
    The tattoo on their back boasts “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

    Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.
    Winners.
    Martyrs.
    Who can stop them?
    Can hormones hold them back?
    Can failure succeed?
    Can fear scare them or death kill them?

    And the generation prays like a dying man with groans beyond talking, with warrior cries, sulfuric tears and great barrow loads of laughter!

    Waiting.
    Watching.
    24-7-365.

    Whatever it takes they will give:
    Breaking the rules,
    Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide,
    Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs,
    Laughing at labels,
    Fasting essentials.
    The advertisers cannot mold them.
    Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late-night parties before the cockerel cries.

    They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive on the inside.
    On the outside?
    They hardly care!
    They wear clothes like costumes: to communicate and celebrate, but never to hide.

    Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
    They would lay down their lives, swap seats with the man on death row, guilty as hell: a throne for an electric chair.

    With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live as though it all depends on them.

    Their DNA chooses Jesus.
    He breathes out.
    They breathe in.
    Their subconscious sings.
    They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.

    Their words make demons scream in shopping malls.
    Don’t you hear them coming?

    Herald the weirdoes!
    Summon the losers and the freaks.
    Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes!
    They walk tall and trees applaud.
    Skyscrapers bow.
    Mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension.

    Their prayers summon the Hound of Heaven and evoke the dream of Eden.

    And, this vision will be.
    It will come to pass.
    It will come easily.
    It will come soon.

    How do I know?
    Because, this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the spirit, the very dream of God.

    My tomorrow is His today.
    My distant hope is His 3-D.
    And, my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking, great “AMEN!” from countless angels, from heroes of the faith, from Christ himself.

    And He is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.
    Guaranteed.

    by Pete Greig

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