Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Son of a Believer: Cambodian Funeral

The father
     On Sunday, we received the call from our dear brother in Christ, Tyrith: the gentle son of a believer had died. Chris left immediately to help for the family had no money for the cremation or the traditional meal for the guests. All day, Chris sat with the family, greeting those he knew and meeting others. The village is Prek Ta Cong 1, not far from our home, and one of the poorest areas we've seen. Chris and Tyrith have been teaching there for several months now, and a handful of believers and those coming to belief are learning about the eternal God and all He has done for them. When Chris left, I prayed for him to have wisdom on encouraging these so weak in the faith as to how they could honor God with the funeral. I worried over what the neighbors would think of this boy dying. He has eaten poisoned meat meant for a dog, was taken to a hospital where they turned the family away for lack of money, and now lay dead in the room full of people covered with a simple sheet. Surely the people there would see it as a curse on this family who were forsaking the Buddhist faith. I prayed for the mother. Would she fall on the Everlasting Arms, or would she grieve as those who have no hope?
Smoke from the cremation - we often see it passing the wat
     Later in the day, Chris and Tyrith and a few others prayed over the family. It was awkward, and the foreign Christians were unsure of how to direct this grieving family. Surely the villagers would see Christians as so very odd and maybe even crazy.
     Our entire family attended the cremation at our wat the next morning. Many villagers came. I found the American culture in me offended by the way the family was mostly ignored. The father sat to one side, the mother organized everyone else and wept behind her krama. No one seemed to offer comfort to the family members. Indeed, what comfort could they offer?
     I stood to the side with tears streaming down my face in a very American way. Though Chris saw the boy when they opened the coffin, I had been too far away (as we had agreed upon - we did not want the children to see the cremation). Then they put him in the fire and the crowd dispersed, his family alone sat with a few monks and sticks of incense.
    I write this post with a saddened heart, but one that believes God works all things together for good. This incident has opened my eyes to many things in my heart: a prayer that God would perform a miracle and raise the boy to life then a prayer for my presumptuousness, wondering if the death was a blessing because there would be more food in the home then chastising myself knowing I would rather starve than see a one of my children suffer and die as this child had, and finally begging the Lord for mercy on this 12-year-old and hoping he was not yet at the age of accountability all the while wondering why I made such a request to the God who loved this child more than anyone.

     What will God do with this situation? I have no idea, but I trust Him. I will be looking for His hand in the days to come!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Casey,
    your post makes me think so much! You touch on a subject that is very near to my heart, even though I haven't dealt with the strong, intense emotions for several years now, but they are issues and questions that still challenge my faith. And with the challenge comes the strengthening. I am praying for this young Christian family. That they will know comfort and peace in spite of death and loss, that they will hold on to the belief that 'joy follows suffering and life follows death'. Maybe someday I'll share with you more :) Love and prayers to you all,