“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.” 1 John 3:7.
What an amazing trip and journey with Saving Susan, and the people of Sanctuary Church, to Cambodia. I have shared my life with people I barely knew from Sanctuary. I have shared my soul with all of them on this trip and I feel as if I have made many new friends. I have also grown to love the orphans of Cambodia even more. I have grown closer to my 6 parent partner children on this trip. I have also grown to love these girls as I have always loved my own 2 biological children, Heather and Kristi. These girls from Bileg in Kampong Thom have captured my heart as a Father. I love these girls as if they were my own blood. I remember the laboring as a father many years ago, as I prayed and thought how I hoped my girls would be as adults. It took many prayers and tears to see my girls grow up to be well balanced Jesus-loving women of God. This is the love I have for the young girls of Bileg. I love Mei-Mei, Srey Leak, Srey Near, Mercy and Savonne. I will make sure , with all that is in me, that they grow to love and follow Jesus as my own girls have done. Their papa loves them and I will pray and lead them as I have led my own. These beautiful girls are my family. I love you girls with all my heart. DAD!!!
Immeasurably more. That’s a term that is used a lot around Saving Susan Ministry. One that I didn’t really understand until today.
Day #5 of the trip was the last day we spent at Bileg Solid Rock. We woke up early this morning and watched our kids graduate! We had 3 girls graduate from high school: Srey Leak, Mei - Mei, and Sreypov. Srey Leak and Mei - Mei’s Papa David was blessed to be able to give the commencement speech, while I (Kristi) and Carly Beber got the chance to sing in the ceremony! Sreypov’s Momma Doreen was able to be there as well.
After graduation we spent as much time with the kids as possible. We went to “The Dam” to cool off and the kids loved it. We did too, because it is hot, hot, hot here! After that we took the kids to the “Spicy Noodle” and had dinner. The spice level for the noodles goes from 0-7, 7 being the hottest. Most of us Americans got a 0, with a couple brave 1’s & 2’s, but our resident Cambodian-American, Samuel hung with the natives and got a 7! After dinner we headed back to Bileg to give the kids all a special Saving Susan Ministry t-shirt with their name on the back and said our good-byes. This is always the worst part. The time wasn’t long enough and the tears were evidence of the love.
Here’s why I say I now understand what God means when he tells us in Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him to is able to give immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.” As we we’re saying our goodbyes, Mei - Mei tells me that growing up with only brothers, she always wanted a sister. Boys don’t know about girl stuff or how to help her, but now she is grateful she has sister to talk to. I’ve spent 3 days with this girl and I already feel as close to her as I do my biological sister back home. This is what God has created us for. To care for the widows and the orphans, and to bring them into our families. He gives us something more than we can imagine when we least expect it. A relationship I’d never fathom and one that I will cherish until we’re together in eternity. Good-byes are tough, but they’re not forever.
That’s all for now, but there is much more to come.
SSM Ministry Coordinator
We are happy to report that days number three and four have been very productive for the August Sanctuary/Saving Susan Ministry team! Monday morning we left Phnom Penh and headed for Kampong Thom Province, where Bileg Orphanage and Solid Rock Christian School are located. Upon arrival we had a joyous reunion with the 18 orphans who are “Parent Partnered” by Saving Susan Ministry—some of whom met their parent partners in person for the very first time. The team got a tour of the entire complex, which includes the orphanage and school, as well as Solid Rock Baptist Church and Solid Rock hospital. Dr. Felipe Castro has developed all four institutions over the course of a quarter-century…as the result of a vision God gave him in 1993, and the ongoing provision for it. Dr. Jack Baskin befriended Dr. Castro and much of the work Western Hills Baptist Church has done in Cambodia stemmed from their shared belief in bringing the truth of Christ to this 95% Buddhist country.
Tuesday we participated in a baseball camp which included a total of 40 budding players of all ages (with several Bileg orphans in the mix!). Cambodian government officials have executed a plan to bring the sport of baseball to the country. Christian organizations like Saving Susan Ministry are partnering in the effort, with the express understanding that baseball can be used as a forum to share the gospel. The baseball clinic today was opened and closed in prayer, and at the end of several exciting innings a gospel presentation and invitation to accept Christ was conducted by David Delk of Sanctuary Church.
In the afternoon we enjoyed fellowship and fun with the orphans of Bileg, building important relationships in the process. The day was capped off by a delicious meal prepared by team member Chris Gatti with the help of Bileg staffers. Chris prepared dinner for over 60 people, using giant woks heated over burning wood.
Wednesday we will participate in graduation ceremonies in the morning at Solid Rock Christian School, including three Saving Susan Ministry-supported seniors who will headed to college in the fall. David Delk will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony, encouraging all the graduates to continue as ambassadors of Christ in all they do from tomorrow forward.
Please continue to keep our team in your prayers, specifically that what we are doing will be a powerful witness for our Lord Jesus and that we can be obedient to the command to spread His word at every turn.
Hello Saving Susan and Sanctuary Church communities! It’s Sunday evening in Cambodia and our team of 15 just finished a couple of tiring but incredible days. Our flight left Friday morning and, praise God, everything went smoothly and we arrived on time after about 24 hours of travel. Jay and I haven’t lost anyone yet.
After getting to our hotel in Phnom Penh late last night, we started this morning with a team breakfast and then headed to the Killing Fields. This was my first time going, and the first for several of our team members. It was a sobering reminder of the tragic past of the Khmer people and will help us understand them more deeply as we connect with them. Seeing the gravesites, Killing Tree, skulls, and other grim reminders made the impact much more tangible. Knowing that one quarter of the population was killed in this genocide is sobering, but seeing and hearing about it at this killing camp really struck home. What a powerful reminder of the depravity of our human nature.
After experiencing that dark end of the spectrum, we drove to Pastor Sihok’s church and experienced the other end of the spectrum. What a breath of fresh air to see the light of Christ in his church! The congregation was so welcoming. We sang worship songs, heard a moving testimony from a young lady in the congregation, recited scripture, and received a message from Sanctuary Church’s David Delk, who spoke on living out Christ’s calling to share the good news with others. It was amazing to see how God is at work in Cambodia in churches like this. The country is 95% Buddhist and the people are so thirsty for the gospel.
We ended our day with dinner with the Sihok family and two of the students that Saving Susan Ministry funds in college, Pov (shown in photo with me) and Sona. These two young men are going through intensive studies as they attend medical school. They are amazing young men of God and are making an impact where they are now. It was wonderful to encourage them and the Sihok family while breaking bread together.
Tomorrow we drive to Bileg in Kampong Thom to see our orphan children! Please keep our team in your continued prayers.
Tara Hambrick is Saving Susan Ministry’s Intern for the Summer of 2019. She is spending a total of 3 weeks at Bileg Solid Rock in Kampong Thom, Cambodia teaching English, helping in the hospital, gathering photos and video content and loving on the children in the orphanage! We are grateful to have her be a part of this ministry. Here’s an update from Tara for the past week and half:
I’ve been here for 11 days now and have mostly gotten settled in. The first few days were incredibly hard, more so than I could have imagined. I would wake up in the middle of the night and just cry while I talked to my parents on the phone. I was exhausted, jet lagged, and alone. I missed my family and the comfort of America so so badly. But then Monday came and I got to work in the hospital, teach little kids English, spend time with the coolest people from the Philippines, and do a devotion with the kids. And suddenly, I didn’t find myself crying anymore. I found myself having fun, being grateful for the opportunities that I know I wouldn’t get in America (I mean I get to run blood tests on my own, with no training). The days aren’t hard anymore and the nights aren’t lonely. I still miss my family and it would be nice to have the commodities of America but I don’t find myself dwelling on those thoughts. I just go out and have fun and love on the people here as best as I can. I’m not sure what the rest of the trip will look like, but I’m hoping I enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying myself now.
In December I wrote “Tidings of Joy,” describing the joy of giving our Saving Susan and Genesis Elevator community experienced as we showered Christmas blessings on the staff and orphans of our partner orphanages. This event got us to thinking. What better way to bless these orphans even more abundantly than by sharing this joy of giving with them?
Last week a leadership team from Saving Susan Ministry traveled to Cambodia to seek out additional orphanage partnerships. This team was made up of Board Chairman Steve Malandro, his wife Sondra, Operations Manager Adam Reiley, Tracy and myself. Our purpose was due to the fact that we have placed 85% of the children available in our Cambodia program and we have decided to continue our focus on orphans in Cambodia and Guatemala instead of perusing another country. We have learned the culture, history, laws and regulations over the past 6 years. This is very important in our assessment of whether we can we can support and partner with a Christian orphanage that shares our long term, God-sized vision.
“Father we need you, O how we need you, You are the Light that shines our way. You are our Shelter, You are our Fortress, You are our Guidepost for each day. We are Your sheep Lord, and we need a Shepherd, Or we may wander and lose our way. But You are good Lord, and You will guide us, bringing us safely through each day.”