When God called me to the issue of human trafficking and Cambodia he gave me a verse that has become the heart of Freedom’s Promise. James 1:27 say, “Religion that God our father finds pure and righteous is this, to take care of the widow and orphan in their distress and to keep ones self from being polluted by the world.”
I have loved this verse for many years because God reveals what religion truly is to Him – not to this world or to the church – but to Him. What I have realized on this trip is that Cambodia is full of widows and orphans even though husbands are living with the family. In this culture most husbands work seasonally, use a lot of their money to gamble, drink or buy cigarets and sometimes are even leaving their first family to begin again with a younger wife. I am not speaking of the whole but the majority. Their are good and bad men here just as there are in any other country, but there is a different cultural mindset here that the men can do as they please and the women are left to live like widows in many cases. The women here are strong and very capable and if provided opportunity can provide for themselves and their children.
But that is a band aide and we are after the root. I’m thankful that we have had the right vision for Cambodia even if we didn’t realize it. I’m thankful we are helping the widow and orphan and we will continue to do so. But, we will also look at how we can cut out this new root! How can we change the mindset of men to have a heart for their wives and children. How can we help them understand that their role is to provide for their family. To put aside self and care for others first. The western man struggles with this too.
Ultimately it is God who changes hearts and mindsets! While we have been shown a huge root cause of trafficking – we have also seen hope. We have met many men this trip who have been transformed and in turn are transforming their communities. I would like to see a men’s mentoring project develop but I’m encouraged by the new relationships we have made this trip and know that change is already being inspired from above.