While hanging laundry this morning, I overheard our grandmother next door talking about our family to a young woman. Just to clarify, “overhearing” takes no effort with neighbors in Cambodia. In point of fact, this particular neighbor can hear just about everything we say and do as well. “They have many children, and they are about to have another one” she said. I gathered who she was talking about as I tried to bend over to pick up a rag I had dropped which was proving difficult because I could not see it for my growing stomach. “But they love them so much. They are such beautiful children. Their hearts are full.”
To our shame, we do not always speak gently or calmly to our vivacious children, and grandmother has to know this. I have worried from time to time about the validity of our witness when she has most certainly heard an outburst of anger from me over spilled sugar or pancake mix in the bathroom. It really is amazing what a kid can think to do with a bidet and a bit of flour.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. I Cor. 12:9. Thankfully, God works on our hearts daily, washing us of selfishness and any number of shortcomings.
Through His power and despite our weaknesses, we could have no greater witness for Christ's love than our family. In this culture and context, our family speaks volumes to all we meet. I am just now able to start seeing and understanding how our friends, neighbors, and perfect strangers view us, and I have felt compelled to share how the Christian family in Cambodia and in any country in the world can bless the nations through their witness because the Christian family is different.
|First play in the rain|
Anywhere from one to six men sit outside our gate every day on their motos available to taxi someone to market or wherever else they might choose to go. Chris has learned a lot from and about these men, and the favorite topic...their adulterous relationships. I'll be honest: it has been very difficult for me to treat these men with respect knowing what they are doing to their families in full view of their wives, children, and peers. I have had to “count to ten” a few times as they have offered to help Chris find a girlfriend. Smiling but firm, Chris has modeled fidelity to these men by coming home before dark day after day (these men know our comings and goings quite well, and I am pretty sure they have figured out that I go somewhere with A/C as soon as the power goes out). Now, our moto taxi drivers tease Chris about his girlfriend when they see us going out together, and that girlfriend is me! They know we are different because we are faithful (Matt. 19:4-6), and they have not heard a single sermon on keeping wedding vows.
|We LOVE babies!|
As we consider these things and so many more, we realize how, despite our shortcomings in ministry, our struggling and fledgling attempts to reach the hardened hearts of our dear ones here, God has been working hard by speaking through the differences in our family. I cannot tell you how many wistful looks from women when they see the way Chris treats me or the way I hug my sweet children have led to conversations about our own weaknesses and Christ's amazing power. My neighbors do not doubt my humanity, but, to them, our family expresses the supernatural – and they want to know how to be different, too. Our continued prayer for our family and yours is that God will continue to keep us from conforming to the culture around us (the world) and continue being a light in the darkness through the powerful witness of the Christian family. May He make your neighbors talk about you and keep your hearts full!
Casey M. Allison
Missionary Wife and Mother in Phnom Penh, Cambodia