Of Hearts and Chains:A Lesson Learned in Cambodia

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Seeing Grace…
In the eyes of innocence shattered
And beauty pieced back together

In laughter unbridled and true
In work carrying the head high
In the realness of dignity

For the broken
For the battered
For “tainted goods”

Who were never “goods”,
But rather good and perfect gifts from God above

For alabaster jars
Spilled (now) only for Jesus



In February, I was blessed to visit a friend from college, Carrie, who works in Cambodia to spread the love of Jesus and discipleship of the Church. When I was preparing to go, many people asked me, “What will you be doing there?” And I gave this little answer or that, but I knew that my trip wasn’t about what I would bring as much as it was about what I would be given.

Sometimes when we are in need of healing and encouragement, God takes us away from all that is familiar, from all that is comfortable, so that we can truly sense Him. I hoped I could help my friend and the young women with whom she works. But even more so, I felt like I was going to meet Jesus, to hear and feel Him afresh.

And He was there amidst the crowds, and so was the hem of His robe.

Have you ever doubted God’s existence? Have you ever believed the lies about this world being all there is–that “right and wrong” are defined individually and that there is no spiritual realm with which to contend? It’s easy to get there in America. But not in Cambodia.

There air is thick with spiritual battles, and so many people beaten down from the Oppressor. Girls’ bodies and dignities stolen, boys given the choice to either please other men (or old women), become a monk, or starve.

“Oh, but we’re more advanced!” some would say. But it isn’t so. In America the Oppressor hides behind a black box and your laptop screen that temps you with the body of one who is not your own. He tells you to eat that fruit and enjoy every last drop–until you drop dead.

It’s easy to look at cultures other than ours and pity them, but when we get down to reality, we are all people whom Satan wants to defeat. No, many of us have never been a part of a brothel, but I dare say that many of us have been sexually mistreated or entered a “brothel” virtually, if not physically. This is the world in which we live. But remember, there is a greater Kingdom.

And Jesus Christ is the King. And that means there is hope and healing for all of us, if we’re willing to kneel, reach out, and grab for it.

“Reconstruction” of a life sexually marred is not as simple as taking the person out of the industry/situation. There are demonic attachments, work problems, family problems, and money problems. My friend Carrie is working in various capacities and ministries in order to offer hope and stability. Christ doesn’t just save us from our sins and leave us. He teaches us how to LIVE. And time is involved.

We want healing–instant and plainless–both for ourselves and others. But just like our bodies, our spirits take time, potentially lots of time to heal. We might argue, “But He COULD heal instantly.” Yes, of course. But He always gives us freedom through choice. The woman being stoned was set free from the blow of rocks against her skull, but I am sure it was not easy to let go of emotional and spiritual ties to various men–or walk in past memories and regrets–or do with less money–or listen to whispers of others–or lead a new life.

Human trafficking is rampant in America as well as Cambodia, and there are ways to get involved to make a difference–which is wonderful! But may we always remember that it is Christ who sets us free–who sets our hearts free, for that is where the nastiest of chains bind.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

P.S. Thank you to my sweet husband for letting me go for two weeks! He is the best.