God Who Comforts The Downcast

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To get a glimpse of what New Testament times were like, come to Phnom Penh.  Just like in the days of the early church, tremendous adversities are faced here.  Idol worship is rampant, thinking all paths lead to heaven is common, opposition from those who do not want this strange “religion” of Christianity to disrupt their culture is an undercurrent. Fear and depression were evident in the early church as they are here today.

The great apostle Paul did not ride the crest of spirituality all of the time. He did not keep his feelings hidden either. He said, “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart…”. Once Paul was depressed, or downcast (2 Corinthians 7:6), then God sent Titus to come and encourage him. God sends people to help us in our times of need.

Our staff in Phnom Penh faced discouraging health issues this week. Mout is dealing with pain in his knee and Chantha has been struggling to heal from a motorcycle accident which caused trauma to his left knee. His leg has been pulsating with pain and is swollen. Today we decided to get medical help.

Our first stop was to Physiotherapy Phnom Penh.  They specialize in Manual Therapy, Sports Injuries, Rehabilitation and Acupuncture.  We were not sure what they could do for Chantha, but thought Mout might be able to gain some relief from joint pain in his left knee. The certified Physiotherapist is a big Dutchman like me, although he had a few inches of height on me. We exchanged some family information and he was happy to meet another dutchman. After examining Mout he determined acupuncture might be a good start, but told him to get and x-ray so he could see if there is underlying damage to his cartilage.

Chantha was next. The therapist was more concerned about his condition. He wanted to rule out a blood clot. He was wary of Chantha even walking for fear of a blood clot. He advised Chantha get an ultrasound. This news discouraged Chantha. Mout and I sensed despondency. We tried to encourage him.  I said, “Let’s to get the x-ray and the ultrasound done right now.”  We left the physiotherapist and headed to the clinic.

Again, Mout was able to get in right away and have and x-ray taken of his knee.  But for Chantha, because it was the beginning of the Khmer New year, the techician who did CT Scans would not be in until next week.  More discourgement.

I remembered my friend Dr. Tom Johnson.  Dr. Tom is the pastor of International Baptist Church (IBC) and heads a ministry called Streams in the Desert which performs medical missions throughout Cambodia. They specialize in goiters which are prevalent here due to lack of iodine. Dr. Tom is an M.D.  Mout had met him a couple years ago when he and I attended IBC. We saw him on Wednesday night at a prayer meeting.  I couldn’t get through to him on my phone so Mout tried on his.  We asked if there was any way we could bring Chantha over for an examination. Dr. Tom told Mout his children were all sick and didn’t know if it would work out, but gave some advice over the phone.  While at the clinic, Dr. Tom called my phone and told me “Yes, please bring Chantha by and I will look at him.”

We hailed a tuk-tuk and made our way to Dr. Tom’s house. When we arrived the gate was locked, but Mout called him to tell him we were outside. While waiting, Chantha and Mout began sharing with the tuk-tuk driver about Jesus Christ. Chantha told him how to gain eternal life, and Mout showed him the Gospel of John and had the young man read some passages. The time we waited for Dr. Tom to come and open the gate was just long enough for this to happen.  It was all in God’s timing.

Dr. Tom welcomed us and after praying began getting Chantha’s history and discovering all that happned since the accident. He knew just the right questions to ask. In about 30 minutes had determined his swelling problem was not due to a blood clot, rather from a muscle tear which first occured during the accident and which had been reinjured about three weeks ago when Chantha had begun to exercise again. It is not a chronic problem and will most likely heal over time, maybe several more months, with proper rest, elevation, and compression. There was immediate relief in Chantha’s face. He went from discouragemet to hope.

Mout is going to continue therapy for several weeks until he gains full use of his knee. Chantha is going to rest his leg and give it time to heal. Both men are reaching out to other deportees with a message of hope and encouragement through Jesus Christ.

I am no Titus, but I am blessed to be able to be here to help these men and encourage them in their time of need. As long as God has a purpose for me I will continue to help.

Cambodia is no paradise. There is much affliction and anguish here. (Click to see how Cambodia ranks in the world for life expectancy). Our staff have no health insurance (it is not available to them), so Hope Now took care of the cost (which is much less than in the U.S.). God is the comforter of the downcast and he uses me and your gifts do more than you might even imagine. Thank you.

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