Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. -- Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV) THE TENTH youth mission trip was undertaken, combined for the first time with an adult Bible conference, by 10 Moriah youths, and Ho Zhi Wei and Pastor Robert Chew from June 4-9, 2012. The confluence of the youth and adult programs with 230+ participants presented quite a logistical challenge! However, by the grace of God, we all got through the whole program without any major hic ups – thank God! The participants – children and adult members – came from 10 different churches (3 supported by us, while the other 7, came from the surrounding area, on the invitation of the Kampung Som Bible School.) Once we were at the Bible School, the youth and adult programs were run separately, except for the combined worship services.
From a pastoral viewpoint, I just want to congratulate and thank the youths, under the guidance of Zhi Wei, for doing a great job. They planned and prepared well for the trip – I guess that was the key to the success. They taught, they shared, they gave testimonies, and carried out their duties and conducted themselves admirably. We can be proud of them! Nascent leadership abilities were observed in some members of this team, and this can be harnessed to plan future trips.
The youth team’s witness (testimonies, bible stories, Christian songs and sharing) at Tomnobrolok Village, on the last morning in Kampung Som – and second last day in Cambodia – was particularly commendable. This village is “home” to many hundreds of children (many orphans) and adults living in the most abject of conditions. Nearly 4 hours were spent here in the open, at a cross-road in the village, with the children sometimes standing, sometimes sitting, on the dirty dirt road, joyfully participating in whatever is going on. Our youths just happily went about to try, through the story of Noah’s rainbow, to bring about 3 hours of cheer and joy, and perchance, hope to people caught in a slippery well of poverty and social ills of a broken world.
The Tomnobrolok experience brought to me the words of Habakkuk in 3:17-18. The people in the village had no fig tree to blossom, no vines to produce fruit, no olive trees to fail, no fields to produce fruit, no flocks, and no herds. (Though I remember seeing a few – just a few! – skinny chickens pecking on the dirt road and some dirty dogs.)
Habakkuk can state for the Jews of his time, who faced similar, but more severely despairing circumstances, “I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” The Scripture here shows that it is possible even under such conditions to be in a state of actual rejoicing.
We can speculate until the cows come home on what caused the circumstances noted in Hab. 3:17 for the people of Tomnobrolok and never arrive at the truth. However, ultimately I believe the reason can be traced to sin. Moses in Leviticus 26:18-20 warned about just such an outcome if the people sin.
We know the remedy for sin is the gospel of Jesus Christ. And for this reason the church can be proud of what our youths did on this youth mission trip.
In Christ, Pastor Robert Chew