Dust on my Bible

14 Jun

She smiles wide as she looks up from her crouching position, hands dripping with soap and water from endless scrubbing of clothes. Stepping into her one room home, she waves us to follow her to the little pile on the white tile floor. She lifts the fly cover off the baby. Three weeks premature and still unnamed, he’s the tiniest thing I’ve seen. “Is this her only child?” I ask. No, she has four more, three in school in Phnom Penh because she can’t afford to feed them. The rice is barely enough for her. Her husband told her he was leaving to build them a house in the city. He never came back.

We read Psalm 91 to her. “You want to say anything to her? encourage her?” my interpreter asks. Yes. Yes, I do, but what? What does a world-at-my-fingertips, twenty-two year-old American have to say to this woman? How do I tell her she’s loved, so loved, by a faithful God when all she’s ever seen is unfaithful? How do I help her understand hope’s tapestry that can stretch strong across dark days when she knows only torn threads and broken promises? She asks us to pray for her. I lay my hand on the baby and pray for his little boy life and his mama’s desire for truth.

I don’t want to forget.

Leaving her house, we walk streets strewn with trash and children’s laughter and broken English greetings. My heart swells. Passing through the market,  we drip sweat and buy icy sugarcane in small bags. Another home, another woman. She sets out benches and sits cross-legged with Bible and songbook in lap. She’s beautiful, hair curly gray and deeply tanned face, but most of all because her wrinkled face wears joy. In this place, we worship. Women gathered under tin roof with blankets for doors, we read 1 John and pause to translate between Khmer and English. It’s anything but ordinary. I feel like I’m on hallowed ground. These people have so little, yet so much. Every time it catches me off guard. Their desire for Jesus is simple, but it’s as real as the worn dirt floor beneath my flip flops. I set my Bible on the table as we lean forward to touch shoulders and pray. When I pick it up, the back cover is layered in dust. I hope it never washes off.

I don’t want to forget.

I thought I was coming to disciple, to bless, to give. I should have known I’d end up being challenged, shaken, encouraged. I give out of abundance, yes, but so do they. This Gospel of Jesus, it’s changing lives in Cambodia just like it changed mine in Bird in Hand. Each time I pick it up, I want the dust on my Bible to remind me of these faces. Walking these slums, seeing these people, this is going to be my life for the next three months.

Do I see trash and dirt, or do I see souls and soil?



8 Responses to “Dust on my Bible”

  1. Chelsea M June 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    “I give out of abundance, yes, but so do they.”
    That shook me to the core. Its the perfect way to put it. I want what they have. I want to have what they have so I can give it to those (like me… like everyone) who need it.
    Thanks for blogging, ladies. Allowing me and many others to accompany you on this life-changing experience is going to change our lives too.
    Praise God!

  2. Carla Barkman June 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Beautiful! Praying for you!

  3. Bevv June 15, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    You guys are the perfect people to be there. Its just so wonderful.

  4. Abby June 15, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    I don’t even know what to say… But i’m praying. And God is working.
    (And I miss you guys already.)

  5. cherieclarae June 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    You guys are making me cry and giggle because I am so happy you started this. I love you and miss you and wish I could see what you are seeing and experiencing. Praying for you.

  6. Kath June 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    So encouraged by your posts and everytime I see you guys have updated I can’t wait to read it. I drink in every word:) Don’t ever think you’re posting to often, I can’t get enough!!! Makes me miss Cambodia so much and excited at the thought of going back!!!

  7. Dani June 16, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    i wouldn’t see some ann voskamp echoes, would i? you pull it off well……SO well….

  8. clarita June 17, 2011 at 3:56 am #

    I absolutely LOVE reading your posts, because I can so hear your heart come through, and I can so see you there, thriving and loving and pouring your heart out to God and for the people…

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