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rightly disturbed

I want to show you three photos. I didn’t take them, but my friend, Mike Lynch, did. I want to talk about what so disturbs me in these pictures, and then move us to a couple of prayer directives. I suspect I’ll be done talking about my visit to Cambodia by the time I’m finished with this post. Yes, you’ll probably hope so too.

IMG_9613PICTURE #1 – This photograph was taken in the Poipet trash dump on the Thailand/Cambodia border. Some don’t just go to the dump to find what they’re looking for or discard their waste. They actually live there – in the dump – with their families. In this photograph, the little girl had just been handed a piece of candy (a Dum Dum sucker). It was so overwhelming to her that she sat down and cried her eyes out. She was probably four or five years old. This is the shit I want God to fix… right now!

On the morning that Lynch showed me that picture I had been enjoying my double-shot latte in the hotel lobby. Did you notice the past tense? Uhh… Thanks Mike.

Oh, before you equate this to just Third World poverty, heathenism, and ignorance, you do realize that there are people in America who actually eat out of dumpsters in greasy alleys all over our country? I rarely stop at Jesus Chicken (Chick-fil-A) without having to read a sign about homelessness, hunger, and the need for help. I’ll say it one more time: we just hide our stuff better than they do… or do we?

IMG_5557PICTURE #2 – A beggar mom with a sleeping child in her lap. This is a fairly common scene in pretty much any Third World country. But what I didn’t realize was that there was a good chance this child had been drugged so he would sleep all day. It makes Mom much more noticeable to have a sleeping kid in her lap, and she’s better able to work the gig when the kid isn’t running around all day disturbing everyone’s peace.

I can barely formulate words about this. But again, before you judge too harshly, ask yourself, is there any chance we’ve been just as guilty as her? What have we given to or done with our kids in order to free up time for us to make a living or do whatever we want to do? I’m not picking a fight here. I just want us praying into this situation, not judging.

IMG_9709PICTURE #3 – Again, another familiar sight in Cambodia. The artistry of how they can pile all that stuff on a rickety trailer, and the whole thing be transported by a small scooter or human, is quite unbelievable! You really do want to grab your camera when you see it. It’s totally a tourist treasure, and it’s laughable…

… until you’re told there is the possibility that deep inside that mound of crap on that trailer, there may be layers of drugged children who are being trafficked across the border for either forced labor or sexual exploitation. Oh yeah, there are businesses in First World countries that specialize in children for their paying clients. CHILDREN DAMMIT! Children. Little people. Kids. Toddlers. Babies.

While we fight about our oh-so-important doctrinal or tribal differences, this crap is going on in the world. (Expand that picture and look at that guy’s eyes.)

While this stuff has been in my head for days, writing it down has made it even more difficult to swallow. It’s like it got real when it became a product before my very eyes. So yeah, it’s real. This stuff isn’t propagated by a bunch of sicko misfits or country bumpkins. Very sophisticated and powerful people run the trafficking industry with dark efficiency. Bringing these crimes against humanity unto justice will require massive resources, intelligence, and manpower from all around the world. Call me naïve, but I have hope that we (every nation, tribe, and tongue) can unite at some point in order to stop this most horrible exploitation of the innocent in our lifetime.

Mike, how can you have hope?

We must have hope. That is our job as people who love and know Jesus. No hope means no faith. No faith means no change. Until our last breath, people need to know that God loves them, we love them, and we’re willing to be in unity regardless of faith, race, or creed for the welfare of all mankind.

FIRST, I have hope about these situations in Cambodia because there are Cambodian people of faith who have the ability to hear God’s directives.

I only visited one “church” in Cambodia, so I’m no master authority on what the Cambodian church looks like on the inside. But Christians in Cambodia need to stop looking at American churches for directives and influence on how we do church. I experienced enough to at least make that casual assessment. Christians in Cambodia need to own their own country’s problems and go to work. Take the lead and set the tone for awareness and activation. Spiritual formation is important, but Cambodia has bigger fish to fry. Christians in Cambodia need to awaken to the fact that they are the ones who hold spiritual authority to change their villages, towns, and their country. Their unity, their prayers, and their awareness can signal the fires of change. But as long as they believe that all they need is to do church like us Americans… yeah, I start losing hope.

SECOND, I have hope because God has sent special agents into Cambodia who have their thumbs on the pulse of all corruption in that country. I met some of these people. My God! Their strength of conviction for the safety of every woman and child in that country is staggering. Again, these aren’t smelly backpackers who wander about aimlessly in the country during spring break. I’m talking about highly connected and well-trained leaders who coordinate in the government on all sorts of humanitarian efforts. Fortunately these aren’t overly religious people. Yes, extremely Christ-centric, but without all the churchy trinkets. Real people doing a dangerous job to rescue and restore dignity among the people of Cambodia.

So yes, I have hope. A lot in fact, but it’s a steep climb up a very big mountain.

I met some young Cambodians who have the potential to break out of their ancestral chains, and spearhead national awareness and change. Are they ready for that right now? I don’t know. But, I think they will eventually be disturbed enough to be the change.

Until then… we pray… and be rightly disturbed.

Make is so, Lord!

Love you all,



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Joseph Rodriguez
    June 14, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Good job messing with my
    day Mike… God have mercy on us all..

    • June 14, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Sometimes reality has that effect.

  2. June 28, 2016 at 9:30 am

    This messed me up. Thanks for sharing. Us Tabors need to get back in this stuff — I love you.

    • June 28, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Aware and praying is always “in this stuff.”

      I love you too.


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