Our world drastically changed in a matter of a few weeks in March 2020. An invisible pathogen known as COVID-19 rapidly transformed our planet. The effects of this global pandemic left our world looking for uncommon solutions to some significant challenges. Yet as believers we know that the answer to every challenge is still found in the person of Christ and in demonstrating His love to a lost and hurting world.
I think the word love might just be the most overused word in the English language. We love the cake we ate for dessert last night. We love our favorite football team. We love our kids. We love our spouse. We love our morning coffee. And we love Jesus. Do you see what I’m saying? “Love” is used so often and so broadly that its meaning has been diluted. It doesn’t mean much sometimes. In our generation it’s become a weak word, not just in speech, but many times, in action as well. While the world around us demonstrates this hollow love, as believers, we’re called to love differently. We’re called to love uncommonly. This uncommon love moves us to take action and bring help and hope to those in need.
I’ll never forget a life-changing experience I had during one of my ministry trips to Cambodia, as we were conducting an outreach in one of the children’s homes that we support in a rural part of that country. We had just finished giving out Christmas presents to hundreds of kids who had been orphaned and were at risk, but they were rescued and are now in a safe, Christian, and loving environment. The outreach finished and we were now leaving the village, when I felt a strong sense of God’s Spirit. At that moment, I looked out the back window of the car as we were driving away from the village and the children were waving and smiling. I wasn’t expecting what God was about to show me next.
As I looked at the groups of children with huge smiles on their faces, I became so overwhelmed with emotion that I began to weep. Something hit me as I thought about their past situations, and the difficult circumstances they must have encountered in life. At that moment, I began to thank God for including me in His process of reaching these precious people with His love in a small way. There was a tangible joy that I got in that village that I still have today as I think about how we can help more people all around the world with the love of God in practical ways, and help people to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Over the last 10 years we have expanded our ministry work across Cambodia through a variety of ministry outreaches like this annual Christmas project and many other humanitarian initiatives, but no one could have predicted the extreme lock down and ensuing economic challenge that would come from the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has been especially hard on small children and elderly people in most of the third world and developing nations of South East Asia, but especially in Cambodia. However, it is in times like this that we as followers of Jesus must continue being the hands and feed of Jesus to those in need.
In April of 2020 during the global quarantine we were praying as a ministry and looking for ways to be more effective in places like Cambodia in spite of all the lock down’s and travel restrictions. Then we had an idea, “COVID-19 Village Outreaches!” What is that? Well, I emailed our local pastors on the ground in Cambodia and we talked about some of the challenges people were experiencing economically, and what we could do to help more people in this hour of extreme need. One idea was, to buy a week’s worth of food and supplies for each family in a single village, and then have our local pastors go and distribute that food systematically to each person.
It was just an idea, we didn’t have the money, we didn’t know the people, we didn’t know if the Government would allow us into the villages, but we decided to go for it! A few days later, we had a plan, we had raised three thousand dollars, and we had located a village. The results of that first outreach were amazing as over 400 families were reached, but the best part was how open each person was to hear about Jesus and many of them responded by making a personal decision to accept Christ.
One testimony came from a local Buddhist government leader who said, “Thank you very much for helping our people. We are encouraging all of our villagers to be grateful to Jesus and to the local Christian ministries who are blessing them.”
Cambodia is a predominantly Buddhist country (98 percent) that has experienced years of political corruption, social challenges, and economic poverty. The average person in Cambodia earns about $50-$100 a month for an entire family. This problem of poverty has led to huge problems in human trafficking, child exploitation, and serious health challenges. This is one of the reasons that we have been working to build children’s homes, dig water wells, provide leadership training for pastors, and supplying food to those in need. However, in spite of all the setbacks and difficulties, Cambodia is positioned for a great surge of revival and growth in the days ahead.
That first outreach stirred our faith to believe God to reach more villages across the country of Cambodia, and since April 2020 we have been able to reach over 20,000 people with food and supplies and present a clear gospel presentation to each family. We are now increasing our goal and we are believing God to reached hundreds of villages and thousands of families throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia.
As children of God, we are the greatest carriers of His love. When we love well, people can experience how Jesus feels about them. We are called to show this love by going out of our way to love every person and allow heaven to invade this earth through our love in action!
Find out more about the projects and ministry of Inspire International at Inspireintl.com.
This article was extracted from Issue 3 (Fall 2020) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.
Caleb Wehrli serves as the Executive Director of Empowered21. He is known as a kingdom leader, mobilizer, and relationally gifted visionary. He has over 20 years of experience in executive leadership roles through missions, church planting, and leadership initiatives in over 65 countries. He is focused on helping ministry leaders from around the globe unite together in training leaders and fulfilling the Great Commission
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