Every day I’m humbled by my lack of faith. My husband and I came to Cambodia to work with young women leaving lives of commercial sexual exploitation and abuse. While our titles are Director and Administrator of Rahab’s House for Agape International Missions, our real jobs are to work to train up the Cambodian staff to be able to run the ministry on their own.
We are blessed by amazing staff, each with their own testimony and each with their own reasons for being willing to work with us to love and to serve these young women. The work, probably even more for our staff than for ourselves, is difficult. While many people might think it sounds heroic and romantic to “rescue” young women from trafficking, the reality is that the immediate rescue – helping them to leave from their place of exploitation – is the easy part. The hard work comes in the days and months after as we love them, serve them, and strive to help them to make good decisions.
The work is difficult for several reasons. The young women we work with might be grateful, but more often they are simply young, adolescent, hormonal girls in their teens and twenties who can be angry, manipulative, and demonstrate very poor judgment in the decisions they make for their lives. Many of them have had very little, if any, structure that has helped to shape them into functional adults, and our job as staff is to help them to make good decisions and, more accurately, to try to prevent them from shipwrecking their lives before they can get onto the right track. Perhaps that sounds dismal, but if you are a parent, imagine if you only started to parent your child at seventeen or twenty-three and for the first part of their childhood simply allowed them to raise themselves. What would her capacity be to think clearly about boyfriends, about career choices, about wanting to go out at night to party with her friends?
Each day I am humbled, however, because I see how the staff we work with continue day in and day out to believe that each of our girls can have a good future even when I get skeptical. My husband preached recently on the demon-possessed man that Jesus encountered and miraculously saved. This man was described as having been chained hand and foot, but he was so strong that he tore the chains apart and lived among the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. This man was healed by Jesus without even so much as a fight. In his sermon, my husband made this point: there is no one so far gone who Jesus cannot save.
In the past two weeks we have had to ask two young women to move out of Rahab’s House (because the girls we serve are primarily over the age of eighteen, Rahab’s House in Siem Reap is a voluntary program and the girls must comply with the rules in order to receive housing). We have continued to provide care for them, but the rules they had broken had been too many and too egregious to allow them to continue to live in the house without being unfair to the other residents. I find myself skeptical that they will ever make it – yet our staff continue to work hard for them, continue to advocate for them, and continue to believe that God’s plan for their lives will be realized and the devil’s work will be overcome.
I’m supposed to be mentoring our staff in social work and outreach, but every day I learn far more from them than I am able to teach. I teach them how to use Dropbox and Excel; they teach me how to believe that God’s glory can and will be realized in Cambodia. I teach them how to file paperwork, and they teach me that God can work miracles in the most impossible of individuals. And I teach them how to create budgets and how to develop new programs, and they teach me to believe bigger, to have greater faith, and to simply long for and desire God more and more each day.
This week we celebrated the graduation of one of our residents from our programs. She’s twenty-five, was recently promoted to manager in her job, is involved on the ministry team at her church, and moved into a church ministry facility where she is surrounded by a strong community of other Christians who love her. We are so proud of her and so proud of our staff for the time and love they have poured in to her.
More importantly, we praise God for how He has worked in her life, showing that miracles can happen regardless of age and past trauma. I am humbled each day that God allows me to witness His miracles to see young women who are rescued and find restoration through Christ. And I am all the more humbled each time I see how much more faith I can and should have in our God, who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, even in the lives of these young women who can seem so far gone.