After nearly 30 hours of travel, my friend, Bailey and I, the designated Set-Up team for Global Ventures, finally found ourselves in Cambodia. As we left the airport, the familiar face of our translator and local contact, Samnang, was waiting for us. The last time I found myself in this nation was at least 6 year ago, and while I remembered Samnang’s face, to be completely honest, I didn’t really remember much more than that. I knew though, that he had been a vital piece of the ministry leadership team that we had worked with in the past. Even though my memory failed me, I knew that face and knew that if he was helping out the team this year, that we were in good hands.
After checking into our hotel, we quickly set out to the business at hand, and made plans for the work that needed to be accomplished over the next two weeks. After which, we said our goodbyes and Samnang released us for the following day, as it was a national holiday. Bailey and I, completely exhausted from the travel, returned to the hotel and found ourselves easily succumbing to sleep, as jet lag consumed us. And with that, the first official 3 days of our trip and come and gone.
Exploration and Chance Encounters.
After hours upon hours of sleep, catching up on what we had lost, Bailey and I, woke ready to take on the city of Phnom Penh, and see what trouble we could get into. Okay, I’m totally kidding, as a responsible representative of a missions organization, I made sure to keep Bailey and I, in safe areas and we totally avoided all signs of trouble. Seriously.
Our exploration led us to the nearby Russian Market, so called because years ago, there was a huge influx of Russian ex-pats in the area who frequented this market. Here you could find all the necessities, name brand clothing and shoes, probably all knock-offs, but a nice assortment nonetheless. Then you had electronics, power tools and food of all types. After wandering through quite a bit of this market, we found ourselves deep within where the souvenirs were located. To be quite honest, I had no expectations for today, just wanted to see if I could locate some inexpensive pearls. I certainly didn’t expect to meet, Sophya.
As we neared her booth, as many of the venders do, Sophya welcomed us and encouraged us to take a look at all of the beautiful things she had for sale. As she continued to talk to us, Sophya asked questions about where we were from. She spoke nearly perfect English and so conversing with her came easily. As Sophya opened up to us, Bailey and I began to share with her why we were really n Cambodia. She said that she too, like us, desired to do good and to help those less fortunate than her, to make a difference in the lives of her people and her country. I could see she was open and I began to explain the reason that we desired to help the people of Cambodia because Jesus had done so much for us. We shared the simple Gospel story with her and she listened intently. Sophya claimed that she had heard of Jesus and believed in Him. She said that she prayed to Him too. And with that, I took things further to share about the miracles we had seen around the world, I told of deaf ears opening, blind people seeing for the first time, and a child being completely set free from AIDS. As I did, you could see her eyes light up as though the news we shared was amazing – and it was.
Now this is the part of the story, where I would like to tell you that Sophya immediately gave her life to Jesus with a simple prayer, or that she had some dreaded disease that we prayed for and was instantly healed, but that’s not what happened. It would make for more of a “news worthy” story, but that’s just not how things went down.
Sophya appeared to be truly touched by what we had shared, and although I believe she is in the place of believing in Jesus, but not letting go of the religion she was raised on, God still used us to speak to her. We asked if we could pray for her, for anything specific, and she really just wanted prayer more or less to be successful in all she did and to be able to continue to help people. And so we prayed.
Now the reality is, we were American tourists in a tourist city, in a market frequented by… Yep, you guessed it, tourists. Tourists are known to be people who have ample amounts of money to throw away on souvenirs. And yes, there is at least a 50% chance that this sweet girl had crafted her sales pitch over the years and was good at reading and meeting people exactly where they are to “make the sale”, I believe this encounter was more than that. I don’t fully understand why we encountered this girl, but I know in my heart that God was at the center of it – and where He is, powerful things happen.
(Bailey, Sophya and me.)
© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED