IMG_4448I have been in the Kingdom of Cambodia for 5 days now and am once again astonished by the beauty of this country. The people, the landscape and the culture. This is the dry season, and its coming into the hot season, way hot. So amongst the beauty there is this layer of death that continues to settle on everything. Dust, rice fields that are drying up and broken people. On the outside all these things seem fine, but when you look closer you see that they need some lovin.

Yesterday I met with my good friends who work with a children at risk NGO in Phnom Penh. They told me about a young girl who lives in the community they work in. Turns out she was taken from her mom and dad by her auntie. Thinking she was being trafficked they went with the mom to the Province to find her.

Our friends left in the middle of the night and drove almost 12 hours to the Province where she was. After talking to a few people they found the girl. Turns out her aunt took her to the Province because she saw how bad she had it in Phnom Penh. She wasn’t going to school, she was malnourished and she was getting beat by her dad who is a heavy drinker.
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They found out that the situation she was in was a good situation, minus the fact that she was taken from her mom and her town. She didn’t want to go back, but saw how much her friends with the ministry loved her, and so she went back to be with them. She held their hands on the way home and fell asleep in the car ride home. It breaks my heart as I even type this story. This girls life was not good, but people loved her, believed in her and wanted to help.
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The other day they just did her placement test for school, she has never been to school. Her placement test puts her in grade 3, she is 14 years old. The school is a good private school. They are also talking to the dad about being a better father and working with the mom to make sure the child is protected.
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There is so much brokenness in our world, and it is Gods hope that we, His kids would respond and bring healing in Jesus name. Caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty and preaching the good news to the poor. This call is a privilege that we all carry and its up to us what we do with it.
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Peace.

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IMG_3814I spent the past 2 days with my friend Brett from Rock Foundation Cambodia. Brett Started Rock Foundation Cambodia around the same time we started Steps of Justice. The NGO has done a lot of great things for the poor, including building homes for a displaced community just outside of Phnom Penh.

A few years ago I came to Cambodia and met Mouen and his family. They lived and worked at the garbage dump village just outside of Phnom Penh. It was a brutal situation, and they only make $1- $2 a day.

A few months before I met Mouen he had fallen 20 meters (60 feet) out of a tree near his home. He was paralyzed from the waste down and almost died. While Mouen was in the hospital his wife gave birth to their baby and a short while after he got released from the hospital his baby passed away from high fever. It seemed as though everything was going wrong for this man and his family.

Last summer our friend Wade came with us to Cambodia. While here he taught Brett from Rock Foundation Cambodia how to make soap. Then, Brett taught Mouen how to make soap. He rented them a house, bought all the material and Moen started making soap.

Today Mouen makes soap for Rock Foundation Cambodia to support his family. He can’t pick garbage anymore because he is paralyzed, but he has a great job now, outside of the dump and can make good money for his family.

I can proudly say that I just bought the first 6 bars. I am also bringing a bunch home with me so that you can purchase some. If you wanna support Moen and his family hit me up and I’ll get you soap. The soap is 3 bars for $10 (plus shipping). The soap comes in coffee cream vanilla, cinnamon and jasmine, green tea and lavender n lemon grass.

To see more about the soap check out Rock Soap here. You can order through them and I will ship it or you can order through me at the below address.

Shoot me a message at phil@stepsofjustice.org

A Picture of Moen with his family, just before their baby passed away.

A Picture of Moen with his family, just before their baby passed away.

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Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.44.34 AMOver the next 6 days that Im in Cambodia I will be posting on things that I see involving poverty and trafficking. Cambodia is a beautiful country, filled with wonders and overflows with the heart of Jesus. But, because sin is in the world it is also filled with the horror of extreme poverty and human trafficking. Here are some of those things that desperately need the love and justice of Jesus.

It is 8am in Phnom Penh and most of the city is already at work, including the young girl that waved at me from the bar I was passing on my way to the cafe. 8am and the bars are already open, and not only for drinking, but for the selling of girls for sex. As I drove by I caught this girls eye. She waved at me like she had been taught and most likely prayed that I wouldn’t stop, but would just wave back and drive on by. 8 hours in Cambodia (5 of those sleeping) and my heart is already broken.

This is not the life that this girl dreamed of when she was a child. Working for sex under the watchful eye of her pimp early in the morning. Somewhere along the way her dream of life was stolen from her. Maybe by an uncle or friend, but most likely from a family member, as usually is the case. Was she tricked into this, or did she voluntarily go thinking that this is the only way she can make money for her family? Either way, she is stuck and needs to be set free.

Cambodia is filled with NGO’s fighting for girls like this. Fighting to give them a new life, filled with opportunity, dignity and hope. But, its not enough. There needs to be more ministries fighting for these girls. With over 50,000 sex slaves working in this country a few NGO’s is not sufficient, there needs to be more.

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catIn early November 2013, the Philippines was hit by one of the strongest tropical typhoons in history. At least 6300 people were killed as a result of the storm and around 4 million displaced. I remember watching this happen from my living room in the USA thinking “What can I possibly do to help?” A few weeks later I got my answer, I felt the Lord say “Go.’ So 6 weeks later I found myself along with 10 others on a plane headed to Tacloban, Philippines, the hardest hit area of the Typhoon.

 

We arrived in Cebu, Philippines at 5:15pm and headed to the station to purchase our boat tickets to Tacloban. We ran into a man who told us that because of the recent storms, the boats were experiencing lots of delays and cancelations. To make sure we got there we bought the earliest tickets we could, which meant we had to leave for the boat at 5am the next morning.

 

After a few hours sleep, we got up and left for the boat, which was named “The Super Cat.” One thing to realize is that at this point we were all total strangers to each other, minus a few of us who knew each other from previous trips. 30 minutes later we got to the boat along with what seamed like a million other people, mostly local Philippinos. trying to catch the same ride to Tacloban.

 

The boat ride was about 3 hours long. People had been warning us that the chances of seasickness on the boat were high, but in our excitement and pride we blew it off and believed for the best. You can see where this is going I’m sure.

 

The first hour of the ride kept us all in good spirits. We were all sitting in the first 3 rows and singing along to bad Karaoke music videos. It was a great time of bonding and getting to know each other. We were those Americans that everyone warns you about, loud and obnoxious. Then, about an hour into the ride, things got interesting.

We got into open waters and the boat began to roll back and forth and side to side. After 15 minutes or so of this, the cabin crew started handing out puke bags to everyone, this was not a good sign. I sat there beside my friend Adam laughing at the thought of people puking, because I was definitely not going to puke.

 

A few minutes after the bags were handed out the Pukefest started. One by one, you could hear people throwing up on the boat. They were all making different sounds, but my favorite was “The Gurgler”. This dude sounded like he was dying a violent death as he gurgled his vomit into the bag. It was around this point where the ride became a lot more quiet. Everyone on the boat was focussing on keeping the contents of their stomach inside, but it was a lost cause. My friend Wayne started throwing up behind me, and then Chris who was sitting beside Wayne started. Two other girls on the trip were laid out on the upper deck, one laying on the soaking wet floor of the boat and the other in the bathroom, hugging the toilet will all the love she had to give.

 

By this point, my friend Adam and I are crying out of intense laughter, that is until Adam quickly grabbed his puke bag and started filling it. Unfortunately Adams bag also had a hole in it, thankfully he had his water bottle with him. Needless to say, I never drank from his water bottle again. I was still going strong until I looked at Chris sitting behind me. He was complaining that his bag had a hole in it, so I turned around to see vomit dripping out of the bag and all over Chris’s pants and another girls luggage. It was at this point that I lost it. I think I could have filled two bags, I was so sick. The boat was so loud by this point, people puking all over the place. It was like a horror film, but we were all living it. [If you’re not laughing by this time, you should be.] We were still in tears, it was the funniest things I have ever been through, and the absolute worst at the same time.

 

Eventually the boat calmed down and we made it to Tacloban. By this point, after only knowing each other for 18 hours, we were all best friends. It was the best bonding time you could ask for and as a result we came together and had one of the most epic outreaches ever. Our lives were changed, we saw destruction and brokenness like we have never seen, but we also saw hope and life. This trip has eternally marked us all and if we could do it all over again we would, we would just take a bus next time and not the boat.

 

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aaron

On Saturday January 2, 2015 Hawaii Aloha (a boat with YWAM Ships) capsized off the Kona coast. 5 crew were on the vessel, four of them made it to shore, but my friend and co-worker Aaron did not survive. Who is Aaron? Below is a quote from his sisters blog that shares beautifully who he is.

“Aaron’s impact on us is huge. That fearlessness, living everyday to the fullest, loving those around you, and I mean ANYONE around you. Not just the people you already care about… He shows us that it’s never too late to change. He may have only lived 24 years, but he lived, ferociously, through more struggle, triumph, transformation, rejection, love, loss and adventure than most people ever will. His story and how he spent these last few years will have an everlasting affect on anyone that knew him, especially my family. We knew he was special, and he was finally so happy. If there was ever a time to go out, it’s at the top of your game, when you’re at peace with everything, and completely accepting of the fact that you have no control. You just need to let go. Four people survived and Aaron may not have, that’s exactly how he would’ve wanted it. If he did go, he went out smiling and euphoric knowing that he was not alone.”

I was thinking about my life the other day. Usually when I see a 24 year old I think “thank God I don’t have to go back there.” With Aaron it was different though. I would see his life and think “man, I would love a do over, his life inspires me to charge hard.” This my friends is what we all should aspire to, being that person that moves others and challenges others to live more fully.

Aaron was someone who loved God and loved others (the two greatest commandments). He loved others with all he had. This is why he worked with YWAM Ships, because he wanted to serve the isolated communities in the Pacific Islands. He was someone who did justice, who cared enough to go, and ultimately gave his life for what he believed. I pray that his life moves my life to be lived more fully and intentionally.

Thank you Aaron, you are missed my friend.

To read more on Aaron and receive updates please go here and sign up to receive updates.

 

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