"Why did you go to Cambodia?" I've answered the question many times.
My wife and I are not world travelers. Five years ago we secured passports for an anniversary trip to Ireland. They stamped our books, and we snapped some photos. It was a shame to let our passports expire without a few more impressions. But we did not go to Cambodia for stamps and snapshots. We went for friends.
More than a year ago friends of ours moved overseas. They boarded a plane to engage a foreign city. They would have to find lodging. They would have to learn the language and culture. They would have to pursue a vision and build a home for their child-on-the-way. (Weeks before departing they found out they were pregnant.)
I have two kids; they block simple goals. In a good week, I can embrace the interruptions. Not all weeks are good. Half the time I wonder if I will have enough time to pay bills and do laundry. Nonetheless, I have a vision to pursue and a home to build.
But what I realized in Cambodia is the indispensable link between family and mission. My calling is first as a husband; second as a father; third as a pastor. An unfaithful husband or absentee father may appear as a good pastor, but he is a bad man. He has forsaken the marriage bed and neglected his children. What can such a man offer a congregation?
Pastors and missionaries share this link: family is the first calling. So Liz and I were thrilled to travel across the globe to encourage our friends in their primary calling. We were impressed with their Khmer and brilliant smiles when talking to neighbors. However, our greatest joy was watching them play with their son, shape his life, and share the stress of another crying fit.
The last night together we dedicated their son. After reading Deuteronomy 6 and praying for God's love to shine through him, we sang "Jesus, Be the Centre" as a benediction. Traffic outside honked and darted. Fruit sellers peddled their goods. Spirit houses appeased dead relatives. And we praised.
As the song closed, Liz said, "You forgot to ask 'Who will help this couple keep their commitment to raise Ian to love God?'" I had forgotten. And since we were the only ones present for the commitment, we committed.
This is why we had come to Cambodia.
This is the final (5 of 5) Cambodia Update