Thursday, June 11, 2015

Village Life: Differ

We have left our neighbors shaking their heads at us more than once. Occasionally they have nodded knowingly as if they expected our behavior: eating bread, not knowing how to build a proper house, going out to eat (even if it only costs a few bucks for our whole family). Try as we might, we cannot blend in fully, cannot become one of these precious people wholly.

God, however, has been most glorified when we have differed, differed outside of the villagers range of expectation, culture, worldview. He has shown up in the moments where our neighbors are simply dumbfounded by our actions or thoughts.

When we were in the process of hiring our first helper, our neighbors to the south came over trying to avoid detection from the rest of the village.

"Don't hire that girl. She will steal you blind. Her family is bad. She is bad. We tell you because we care about you. We want you to know. Don't do it."

Oh, how I wanted to honor that sweet grandmother and follow her wisdom. The Holy Spirit, however, had prompted our hearts that this was our girl. We were to love her like our own child.  I told my grandmother in the politest way I could that God asks us to love unconditionally with His help. She almost chuckled at my "foolishness."

And we loved Dalin with our Father's aid. And she bloomed. She gained respect in our community. She never stole a penny. We saw Grandmother's heart soften.

Then, Dalin stopped working for us. Another person came looking for work. I had seen this person when we first came to live here; he was a transgender. I had seen him and his friends in the night, coming back from town dressed like prostitutes. And, against my human nature, the Holy Spirit moved me to compassion, and I asked Him for that man.

He came as discreetly as possible, without makeup in a simple sarong, but Grandmother had spotted him.

Tamarind Flowers in Front of Grandmother's House
"Don't do it." She said, "He's bad. He'll ... steal ... from ..."

She slowed. I saw the light dawning in her face.

"He's not like Dalin. He's worse. He's been stealing since he was a child. He pretends to be a girl. His family is awful." she warned.

And the Lord prompted these words:

"His sin shows. My sin doesn't, but I have every bit as much sin as he does."

It was a marvelous, Gospel conversation after this bit. Hiring that man was truly incomprehensible to Grandmother's human logic, but I could see the Lord working in her.

I had differed, gone against everything this kind woman knew to be true and right. By God's grace, the difference between Cambodian culture and the way I had acted was so shocking, she was struck to the heart.

In ministry, we must often fight to model our life in similar fashion to our host culture. However, we must never forget to differ like our Savior did, to be so revolutionary, we're seen as foolish.

And don't worry about planning your differences, you "war" against common logic. He has sent His Spirit. He will guide your words, actions and heart if you will but listen.


  1. This is an outstanding account of success! I'm glad you listened to the Holy Spirit! Proud of you sis and Chris!

  2. Awesome Story! May the Lord continue to bless your families ministry!