The Glass Darkly

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stories that darken your soul

I've been reading lots of stories from Cambodia, mostly stories from people who survived some or all of the 30 years of war and four years of genocide. Story after story of tragedy, war, rape, murder, abuse . . . Families torn apart by the evil of human greed and lust for power . . . the reality which is both disgusting and heartbreaking at the same time. Many of these first-hand accounts have been written for therapeutic reasons by the people who continue to dread the memories of what they saw and experienced. My heart weeps for them and the burden they carry. Even as the everyday pain of the losses grows less over time, the memories can quickly be re-triggered. Post-traumatic stress ultimately affects the psyche of following generations in ways psychologists are still studying to understand better.

One book I have read over the years is called "Killing Fields Living Fields." It details many of these stories including that of the Church through this time. In it we see not only the human spirit and will to survive, but also how in the ashes of the fire, the stench of human death, seeds of hope are germinated . . . new growth, new life. One can't help but stand in awe of how God can use such a horrible human act to continue the work of building His Church. No, not even the Hell of Hate poured out on Cambodia from 1970 on could fully quench the healing river of Christ. A tiny but mighty remnant of God's people was saved for the continued work that became legalized in the 1990's.

Today, when I become discouraged by the human effects on the Church, I remember that the builder and architect of the Church is Jesus Himself. He knows what it's like to be human and still entrusts the work of the Body to us! There is nothing that can stand in the way of His purposes and there is no people-group on this Earth that He has forgotten. Even though the Killing Fields of the Cambodian genocide from 1975 to 1979 nearly wiped out the Church in that country, in the Living Fields today we find a people, dealing with the same reality of being human we do, but displaying a resiliency, the marks of the Cross that Christ Himself survived.

Stories that darken your soul . . . tragedy and pain . . . they are all around you in that land and here. Yet one can't help but stand in awe of the ways Christ can bring restoration to the brokenness of the human condition and that of the Church. Rivers of healing, seeds of hope, killing fields to living fields . . . in the stories of human experience and survival we see the Gospel of Christ at work, turning mourning into gladness, restoring broken hearts and minds, and always preserving the work of building the Church, His people, His Body. This is His Story.