Today is the first time I've ridden into Phnom Penh on the back of the motorbike. I'm getting used to this mode of travel; I no longer keep wads of Bill's shirt clenched so tightly in my fists! On the way one will see marshy ponds thick with water lilies and trash, bare-bottomed boys wielding bamboo swords with all the vigor of King Arthur, pool tables under palm-leaf shades, and illustrated billboards indicating that one ought not fish in certain areas nor beat one's wife.
As we drive through dusty markets and past gates, trees and tarped "front porches," all with the same dirt coating; naked children; houses with big cement water jars rather than plumbing; farmers with oxen rather than tractors... I wonder if social and technological advancement really matters. Does it honor God, I mean. Would God be glorified if they had grass rather than dirt yards, and if they had carpet and air conditioning, and if they dug ditches with back hoes rather than shovels, and if they had trash pick-up rather than throwing it, well, everywhere?
It seems that "Christian" societies historically have progressed technologically, taken a deep breath of religious reform and fervor, then continued to "progress" from self-righteousness based on tradition, to an idolotrous perversion of Christianity which conforms to the adherant's taste, until religion is viewed as a superstition for the uneducated. Would improving the quality and ease of life in Cambodia improve its spiritual condition? It doesn't seem to be helping the US.
So while I am inclined to concern myself with physical needs (like Martha?) I am reminded that only one thing is necessary. These Cambodians have a place to lay their heads, which is more than Jesus had. But when they lead their oxen into the fields at dawn, they should rejoice that God's mercies are new every morning. When they take a cool bath from jars of rain water, they should worship Christ who refreshes our souls with living water springing up unto eternal life.
When Bill and some students spoke with our neighbor about offering sacrifices to their ancestors, she said she doesn't know if it's good or bad, she just blindly follows the traditions of her parents. Please pray that God would give them eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that understand; that they will turn and He will heal them. Please also pray that we won't be destracted by the busy-ness of life; that we will rejoice that God's mercies are new every morning, and we will worship Christ who refreshes our souls with living water springing up unto eternal life.