Jennifer Seo Ney is one of Tenth’s returning missionaries, who serves with Tenth Global.
Hear her reflection.
A Journey into Justice and Forgiveness
Our group was made up of 8 people of diverse age, race and educational backgrounds. But we bonded well, and it was a blessing to be on the same team. I would like to share a few highlights from our journey, focusing on how we experienced the transformative work of God during our trip.
First, I got to see God’s redemptive work in the life of Reaksa.
Our journey started in Siem Reap. After visiting Angkor Wat on the first day, we spent our second day with Reaksa, the author of the books, Tears of My Soul and After the Heavy Rain. The dark history of Khmer Rouge still affects Cambodians in many negative ways, and I often wonder how to make sense of such terrible evil done not too long ago in our history. Where was God when all these horrible things happened? Our meeting with Reaksa was such an inspiring time when I was able to see the power of God’s goodness through Reaksa’s forgiveness of those who killed his family.
When we visited a beautiful retreat center Reaksa runs near Siem Reap, we were greeted with Reaksa and his wife’s warm welcome. It was a spacious and peaceful place with a fish pond. He shared his story of the Khmer Rouge brutally murdering and pushing his family into a mass grave when he was just a schoolboy. Reaksa also got blows and was left to die in the mass grave but survived miraculously and escaped. Though Reaksa’s first desire was to seek revenge, after receiving Christ in his heart, he was given the heart to forgive those who killed his family.
Though none of us experienced suffering as intense as Reaksa’s, I noticed our team members were moved by Reaksa’s powerful story. During the trip, some of us shared about how we also have people in our lives whom we are working on forgiving. I am confident that as we continue to live a life of healing and forgiveness, Reaksa’s story will continue to inspire us.
Another area where I saw the healing work of God was among the participants of the DOVE’s ONYX program.
DOVE is an organization that focuses on leadership development through a mentoring program and job creation through business enterprises. A few years ago, the ONYX program was adjusted so that it would focus not just on intellectual and skill development of the leaders, but on holistic development, including emotional and relational growth. One of the things the participants of the ONYX program get to do over a few months is to reflect on the important events in their lives and think about how those events shaped who they are. Even though they have wounds and trauma, they are learning to see the challenges in their lives from God’s perspective, and, thus, experience growth and healing.
Our team had a chance to be part of the ONYX training, including the "Pottery Exercise", which was very powerful. We were asked to paint a story of our lives—our past, present, and future, on pottery. After spending a good amount of time painting, people were asked one by one to drop their pottery on the floor. Then the broken pieces of pottery were glued together. There were cracks and the pottery didn’t look nice any more. But then glitter was put over the cracks and the pottery looked beautiful again—though different than when the pottery was only painted. The pottery exercise taught me that our brokenness is not something to be ashamed of but in fact an opportunity for God to work in us and transform us.
I also saw the transforming hand of God when we visited Precious Women, an organization that works with women working in the sex/entertainment industry.
Women working in the sex industry receive support from Precious Women in various ways: vocational training and scholarship, relational support, business loans to start beauty salons, counselling, and health support.
We had opportunities to pray with the Precious Women staff, some coming from difficult backgrounds. Once, when Kathleen and I prayed for them, a couple of the women were moved to tears and told us that they felt a tangible presence of God in the room.
To summarize, our Justice Journey to Cambodia gave us an opportunity to be in a country where there is much darkness and brokenness. But our time with the Tenth partner organizations gave us glimpses of God’s redemptive and transformative work in Cambodia.
Please join me in praying for our partner organizations as well as those who participated in this Justice Journey.