I was thinking as our bus lumbered out of Phnom Penh that the face of poverty and hopelessness looks the same all over the world. We were travelling from the city to a rural area a couple of hours north of the city where several inspiring young missionaries are working for Christ through community health and agricultural programs.
The further we went the more desolate became the landscape. We finally arrived at a very small and modest school where we had hoped to finish work on a latrine and sow some seeds of hope into those who were reaching out in the name of Christ to educate and feed the children in nearby villages.
We barely navigated a dusty dirt road to a small facility and were greeted by several hundred children who were politely seated and waiting for us under a grove of shade trees. They were beautiful. It was mid morning but already above 90 degrees and they had been waiting to show us all they had learned. They danced and sang and as they did, I was struck by their big smiles and toothy grins.
As the day ended, there was the mother and her two small children in the photo above. I noticed them near me about to mount their bike and head back to their shelter and get on with their chores. One of the children was still eating the small loaf of bread we had distributed, the other child was holding tightly to the toothbrush and washcloth as a valued treasure.
She could not speak my language nor could I speak hers. But when she smiled, the loud thank you was communicated and then it struck me. A glimpse of God at work. Poverty cannot steal the joy of knowing Jesus and trusting God to meet all our needs. She rode off with a kid in front and a kid in back. A living image of Philippians 4:19 and a woman living solely on the promises of God. Lord, may it be so for us!