The world is in transition. The impact of the internet, social media and the 24 hour news cycle mean the forces of change are moving quickly and relentlessly. The dynamic of the global order is been shaped and reformed at a pace we’ve never experienced before. Right now is a strategic time both globally and for Cambodia in particular.
During the first decade of this century a long season of war and conflict in Cambodia came to an end. This has enabled a new generation of young people to grow up in an environment of relative stability and security. In the cities this emerging generation are more educated and through technology they are more globally aware than any generation before them.
The dynamic of village life is also in transition. In villages the loss of family land has meant that the subsistence farming, which formed the basis of village life for generations, has been replaced by whole families now travelling from the village each day to work in factories.
This season of transition will result in change. The question is what outcomes will this change bring? Whether this change results in benefit or harm will be determined by the voices of this generation.
Right now there is battle for the influence of their voices and for the direction of the impending change. In Cambodia the previous season has been defined by rescue, but rescue is not sustainable. The most important outcome that can result from this change is for Cambodia to emerge as a nation known for its freedom.
Just like the Israelites camped on the banks of the Jordan waiting to take possession of God's promise, Cambodia is strategically positioned to claim Christ's promise of freedom. God is looking for voices of influence to lead their nation into victory and freedom.
In Joshua 1:10-14 Joshua gathered together the nation of Israel and tells them to prepare to possess God's promise. Joshua then instructs all the 'strong warriors and fully armed' to 'lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them until the Lord gives them rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them.' Joshua 1:14-15
God's promise of freedom is always for whole nations. Freedom would not be fulfilled if only a few 'strong, well armed' Israelites took possession of the promised land while the remaining vulnerable Israelites were still living in fear on the wrong side of the promise. That is why Joshua first needed to identify and develop a group of strong committed leaders who were then entrusted with leading the rest of the nation into their own personal victory.
In the same way God is entrusting men and women in Cambodia who are in a position of strength to lead those who are vulnerable to a place of freedom. Our responsibility in this is to build and develop these local leaders and empower their voices to bring strength and longevity to the work God is doing.
This year for the first time we have set aside one day before each of the two Esther's Voice retreats in April to train and develop the local leaders of the NGOs we are working with. These leaders will then work with us in a very intentional way and minister to the girls during the retreats. They will also continue the ministry of Esther's Voice with the girls once the retreats have finished, and 'Stay with them until the Lord gives them rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them.'
I'm excited about working with these incredible leaders and know the impact of their voices will bring permanent generational change.