The secret to the happiest kids on earth

I have been privileged for the last week and will be for the next few months to be working with FCOP International (web redesign in the works). I’m astounded for all the things that are happening through this organization. Right now, they care for 3000 orphans and 600 local Cambodian staff. Talk about large-scale! They’ve had over 15,000 children come through their homes (there’s 106 of them)! Almost all of them are passionately following Jesus and are productive members of society restoring health and wealth back into the Cambodian nation. I love their model and desire to see each person healed in body, soul and spirit. Their love is absolutely extravagant and incredible.

What really surprised me was how they married the secular with the Christian. Oftentimes, there’s too much of one or the other. But really, when we consider “let Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”, we have to remember that heaven is supposed to appear on earth. There are what seems like a million micro-enterprises and some greater enterprises (many in the works). I love how Paul recommends to the Thessalonians to be laborers and be a light to society. This is what they’re doing here. Each home has micro-enterprises that help sustain them when we don’t have enough donations come through. It’s a large scale operation that needs a lot of money. There are projects that need to happen to bring self-sustaining to be a reality here. We have large scale operations in the works that can produce enough revenue when up and running to support every home and not depend on a single donor barring any natural disasters.

I came here thinking, I have so much to give and I want to give it all. Yesterday, we visited some homes in the river (yes, in the river). I got to play with many children, and seriously, they are the happiest kids on earth. I have yet to visit a home that I haven’t felt that way about. Sure, you can tell which ones are newer. They’re a little bit shyer and perhaps a bit more aggressive. However, you look at the other kids and you know their fate. They will be so full of love that those things will not last in their hearts. I left the houses realizing that I came here to give but really, they have so much more to give than I do.

I was surprised at the authority and respect that the kids give to the organization leaders. They affectionately call the leaders, Ted and Sou, Big Pa and Big Grandma or Big Ma (I guess that depends on the age of the children). I have yet to see children in tattered clothing or famished beyond recognition. They are treated like normal kids but according to Cambodian standards, they are treated even better than that. They run each home like a real family having a caretaker for every five children. These caretakers are often widows who have nowhere else to go. Yesterday, we were handing out the apples but lovingly, Sou would correct the children as she desired each of her (yes, she considers them her own) children to have manners and respect their elders. They joyfully and lovingly accepted the correction. Wow, how many kids have we seen do that on the first try!

The impossibilities are a reality here and I get to live in that reality everyday. What a joy that is! What a joy to even participate in what they are doing here. Family really makes it a difference. Our hearts make a difference. Sometimes we focus too much on the objective that we lose sight of the people before us. But really, it’s the people before us that gives us parameters for the goals that we set and in the midst of pursuing their health, welfare and wealth, our goals become a reality.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

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