Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. …But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:12-36
Today was the fourth day of clinic and VBS. This morning, the majority of our group worked at Bridge of Hope doing well-child check-ups and seeing other patients. In the afternoon, the group went to a border village. While others were working hard in the heat (some not feeling well), a few of us went to visit with some partners of Freedom’s Promise in Battambang.
First, we visited Restoration of Vulnerable Children (RVC), a school that teaches young women to sew. This educational ministry is a project of Kone Kmeng, a long-term partner organization of Freedom’s Promise. This school was recently forced to move out of their initial location, but the teacher and students have done a remarkable job of adjusting to the change. At RVC, we got to meet the women who are benefitting from learning a skill and being paid fair wages for their work. Because of RVC, these women are given the opportunity to support their families without being forced into exploitation. Though a language barrier exists, one of our wonderful translators, Sokleap, was able to make introductions and to communicate our gratitude for the welcome we received. We had a lot of time to admire the new skills of these amazing seamstresses, and many purchases were made, both for us personally, and for Freedom’s Promise to sell back in the U.S.
Tiffany and Mark from Compassion Acts, a U.S. Partner of Freedom’s Promise, were able to spend some time with the teacher at RVC, and I got to listen in a bit. In the most respectful, patient, loving way, some pointers were provided about pricing, marketing, and about which types of styles would sell well in the U.S. It’s important to note that any proceeds that Freedom’s Promise makes from the sale of these goods will be put directly back into the ministry of RVC.
After a great lunch, we hit the road again to go visit with students and a teacher in another area of Battambang province. The views along the way were remarkable and a true reminder of the beauty and goodness of God’s creation. We also stopped at a roadside stand for coconuts – YUM!
The school where we spent a bit of time this afternoon in Prey Preal was amazing. This primary school, like the sewing school, is a part of RVC. We got to meet the teacher and the thirty or so students who were in class. We also met the minister of the church that supports the school. We heard several songs, handed out some toys and bracelets, and saw the dedication to learning that is present in this community. We had to make a quick exit because of the weather, but Freedom’s Promise plans to return to this school on future trips.
All in all, this was a really special day because I got to learn more about the work of Freedom’s Promise and its Cambodian partners. I’ve gotten to observe a lot this week and I’ve been privileged to see people using their God-given gifts to show God’s love to others. I’ve watched nurses care for patients, adults play games with children in VBS, and Cambodian translators switch seamlessly from Khmer to English, often while also seeing patents. This week has been an incredible reminder that the body of Christ extends far and wide, and we are all members of it.
I love the passage above from 1 Corinthians because first of all, it reminds us that God in Jesus Christ had a human body. Jesus knew the depths of human pain and suffering and therefore, when one of God’s children suffers, we know that God suffers with us. Jesus, God incarnate, is the definition of solidarity. Additionally, this passage reminds us that we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, are called to be in solidarity with one another. As Christians, we suffer and rejoice together. This week, we’ve shared stories, faith, laughter, and knowledge. For these countless acts of solidarity, I’m incredibly grateful.
Written by Claire Harris