When I came back to Cambodia 6 years ago I was busy creating and piloting ONYX, Men’s work, launching AA among Cambodians, etc., which was really exciting and fulfilling. After 55 years, I finally discovered what my gift to the world was, and I enjoyed seeing it work out on the ground. Just when I began to do what I was born to do, a few of us then discovered we were building great stuff on a very faulty, precarious foundation. That called for some serious measures, and took a long time to fix. But, as long as I could be creating, I could live with the pain of foundation repair.
The first three years were tough, and last three years were a killer when DOVE’s director got Prostate cancer and was not present - find a new director, call a new board, reams of paper for the government, and all that jazz.
Then somehow, in the midst of all the busyness there was a lull - the eye of the storm was passing over. I felt guilty having had time to breath and I was in a season of revising, evaluating, planning, and assessing away, not pioneering any new initiatives. So, in a momentary lapse of judgment, I agreed to revise my Gecko book on Cambodian Protestant Church History and translate into Khmer, do staff capacity building and devotions for our partner organization, translate AA material, teach some classes at the university, and teach a leadership intensive with 4 partner organizations.
Then the eye of the storm passed and there I was, tossed about like a tumbleweed in a gale force wind of work - all good stuff, but too much, and now I am exhausted. At the end of July, if I make it that far, most of my commitments will be finished and I will be free to be smarter, and make better decisions concerning commitments.
Yesterday God ripped a little hole in the universe above me. It was Int’l Child Rights day and I was sitting in my office at 8 am when about 15 schoolgirls (10-13 years old) dressed in their longish blue skirts and perfectly white, stainless blouses, waddled into our Drop In Center like little ducklings. Their classes were starting late so they ‘dropped in.’ Hard to explain but I could feel God’s great love hovering over them as they came in. It startled me out of my ‘overwork’ hangover as it spilled into my office (even with door closed)! Mr. Virak, the Drop in Director went out to welcome them, and he didn’t come back. After a while I went out to poke around, and there he was, sitting right in the middle of the little flock, playing UNO with them. I really don’t know too many people who would drop everything and stop in the midst of their busy schedule to play UNO with a bunch of schoolgirls. I do now. Virak and Jesus.
Soon after, Director Sarady’s sister came to visit with her 8 month-old Daughter. The Universe ripped open a little bit more as I had never seen such a beautiful and happy baby. I was transfixed. Hope Bophal never see this baby or I will be in big trouble. Once again I could feel God’s immense love for this baby, it again spilled over to include me. And that's pretty cool.
Saturday morning I went to the DOVE office to meet Mr. Phearom, a former student of our youth program back in 2006 under the Evangelical Fellowship. He later became Dove staff, and now is the director of Alongsiders Camp Shalom. He will be teaching some ONYX leadership classes for us in the next few weeks and he wanted to observe the class. Phearom has sent many of his people from Sa’aang District over the years to study ONYX because he sees the transformation in his young people. Phearom is one the few who get what we do, and tries to duplicate it with the emerging leaders he works with.
The universe ripped open a little more.
After ONYX class let out, Mr. Virak came into our office with Mr. Poya (photo below), a former ONYX student from Cohort 2 who has continued to volunteer to help lead ONYX classes and who is very active in DOVE’s men’s group and the Al-Anon group at DOVE. I was a fly on the wall as Mr. Virak coached him on how to re-duplicate Dove’s Leadership Club for teen drop-ins at his church in the slums where so many teens fall victim to meth addiction. I saw a Cambodian mentoring and coaching another.
The universe ripped open a little wider at the point.
When Jesus was on the earth, where did he go? He always went where there was pain.
That is where DOVE goes, and where many of our students go, too.
I am grateful that God ripped open the universe just a slice to jolt me our of my exhausted state so I can be reminded that God is very present, even in the midst of Global Warming, Sex Trafficking, war, the air pollution and traffic congestion in Phnom Penh. His voice is still small, though.
- Ms. Sarady, Dove’s new director came into my office after teaching ONYX’s first lesson in the leadership block. She reported to me, “They were really engaged! Not a blank look the whole time!”
- A new ONYX program in remote Kompong Laing was launched this Saturday with 15 emerging leaders. This remote, organic Onyx is run by ONYX grads. Kompong Laing is in Kompong Chhnang and one has to cross three rivers by boat to get there.
- Kompong Cham ONYX is a now owned and run by former ONYX students, with Ms. Sarady supervising once or twice a month.
- Dove Kompong Thom ONYX grads are asking for help to run their own ONYX program in a remote area, and we trying to find funding for this.
ONYX as an organic leadership is community, alumnus led, is what we have long been hoping for. The universe cracks open for this, too!
If you like to make a donation toward our family, or the work DOVE does, you can find both of us at the link below:
Btw, if you shop through Amazon Smile, select Mission Dispatch and Amazon will donate a small percentage to MD.
Peace for the Journey,
Brian and Bophal