Saturday, February 13, 2016

SE Asia Update 3: Cambodia, AIM, & The Killing Fields

We've been in Cambodia for 3 days now! Our travel to Cambodia was SO smooth, so thank you for praying, friends! It was super simple and we couldn't believe how well everything went. Right when we arrived we met up with Agape International Missions (AIM) and got to see their restoration home for girls who they rescue from brothels and other sexually exploited situations. AIM is an amazing organization that does a TON in Cambodia and really has a holistic ministry with anti-trafficking work, church-planting, discipleship, school for children, emergency foster care, a gym that provides kickboxing lessons to men, factories that fairly employ survivors and others in the community, and so much more! We spent two days with AIM, and I was amazed to see all that they are doing.

At the restoration home there are about 50 girls and 150 staff. The girls receive counseling and social work services, as well as schooling and vocational training and lots of love. It's an amazing facility, and they are able to do so much. Most of it is indigenous people working with the girls, with the ex-pats training them in counseling, social work, etc. Very neat.

The beautiful ( and delicious) cupcakes from the shop that employs previously trafficked women.

The wall at AIM's merchandise shop.

After our time at the restoration home, we got to visit a cupcake shop that employs women who have been trafficked as well as AIM's shop that sells the goods made by the survivors. We also visited a temple, which was pretty intense. It was very ornate and beautiful, but sad to see all those people worshipping and praying to gods that are not alive and active. It made me long for them to know Jesus who gives hope and life. That night we went to a restaurant that all the American reporters would go to during the Khmer Rouge fiasco back in the 70's, which was pretty cool and had amazing pizza.

Our second day here we also spent with AIM, this time in a nearby village where they have most of their anti-trafficking work as well as a church they planted. When they came to this village ten years ago 100% of girls 8-12 were trafficking by their families due to poverty and the culture. Now only 50-60% are, which is an encouraging decline, but there is still so far to go. We got to see lots of incredible things, like the very first brothel that was raided in the village by IJM 10 years ago. It was a child brothel, with girls 6-11 years old being sold there. AIM now uses it for emergency foster care. What the enemy meant for the evil, the Lord has meant for good! It was so disturbing seeing how there used to be just a narrow hallway with tiny rooms on either side with doors that locked from the outside. It was pretty similar looking to the scene in 'Taken'. Upstairs is an ornate pink room that is famous in child pornography and after AIM posted a photo of it on their blog it was used to aid in the prosecution of a pedophile. It was so sad to see and hear about all of this as little girls and boys around that age gathered around us to play.

We got to spend some time talking with the American couple who came over to live in Cambodia ten years ago to start the anti-trafficking work (if you've seen Nefarious, it was Don Brewster), and that was such a neat experience! Their heart for these kids is so big and they are in it for the long haul. They have tons of ideas like how to help equip the police here with more technology and different methods for after-care for survivors in the States and everything! It was such an encouraging conversation. One of the cool things about AIM is that they have a wonderful relationship with the government and police and are allowed to do raids on brothels by themselves and even arrest traffickers! God has really blessed their ministry and work in Cambodia.

After our time in the village, we got dinner and went to a night market. I also started taking antibiotics as I was feeling worse and worse (feverish). They seem to be working as that was last night that I started them and all of today I have felt much better!

The memorial to the victims of the killing fields.

A mass grave-site.

The rules for prisoners at S21.

Today we went to the Killing Fields and S21. The Killing Fields are where 1.5-3 million Cambodians were killed during 1975-1979 when Communist Khmer Rouge took over. They wanted the country to be just a bunch of rice farmers and killed all the educated and religious and old people so they could start over. Our van driver today told us about how he was 10 years old when this all happened and he was forced to work in a rice field and was always starving and sick. S21 is an old high school that the Khmer Rouge used as a prison and torture camp for people they suspected. Going through both of these historical sites was haunting. We had headphones to listen to the history as we walked through and I feel like I learned too much to write here, and the torture, violence, sheer terror of this genocide are too much for words. I'm so surprised I don't remember learning more about it in school.

A wall at Daughters of Cambodia—another anti-trafficking organization that has a cafe, salon, and shop.

I'll write more later! Thanks for following, friends!


  1. We have a friend, formerly were in a Life Group together, from Cambodia. An anniversary date in April always stirs him deeply, as he recalls the day in the Killing Fields when he saw his family killed. So long ago, yet the pain still affects him.

  2. Thank you for keeping us updated on your journey. Praying for your protection- both physically and mentally as you take so much in.


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