“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”49 You have probably read or heard this passage before. It is commonly shared at Easter services, highlighting Jesus’ last moments in prayer on the night He was betrayed. What is surprising about this passage?
Jesus had one purpose in coming to earth as a man: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”50 What is remarkable about Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal was that His will was NOT to fulfill the will of God. He did it not out of desire to bear the sins of the world or die on the cross, but out of obedience to the Heavenly Father. God the Father sent Jesus into the world as part of His perfect plan; it was not about Jesus creating something new but about fulfilling the calling God placed on His life.
Just as Jesus lived out of obedience to the will of God, so too must we as we seek not to do something for God or on behalf of God, but to join Him in the work that He is already doing. Your role as you go to Cambodia with AIM is to build on what God is already doing through the ministry and the staff, not to create something new.
Think back to earlier days in this devotional in which we discussed paternalism in different forms and humility. There are doubtless people on your team, maybe even yourself, who are visionaries – people who see potential in problematic situations – and your work is to try to find solutions. You might come up with great ideas about how to help the people of Cambodia. However, your role first is to look around you, to ask how God’s plan is being worked out through AIM staff and through His church in Cambodia, and to understand how you fit within that plan.
This is not to discourage new ideas, but your first mission is to do work that will benefit the host organization and the long term missionaries on the ground, rather than creating a project upon which you and your team can put your name. It may be the case that you will be able to assist on a project that has a discrete beginning, middle and end, it may be that you construct a new building or help to launch a new program, but it may also be that you won’t ever see the fruit that your individual work in-country produces.
Regardless, God has a plan that He is working out in a mighty way in Cambodia, and you have the privilege to be part of that work. Even amidst the poverty and the moral depravity, you won’t have to look far to see God’s work among His people. God has been raising up pastors through AIM for the past twenty-five years throughout the country – in the cities and in rural villages. There are daily outreaches to brick factory workers, and the Svay Pak kids’ club serves hundreds of children each day who work in those factories, giving them showers, food, clean clothes, and a safe place for nap time. AIM staff are also working with the brick factory owners and their families to get their children enrolled in school. Church services are ongoing in red light districts, new believers are being discipled, pimps and traffickers are being saved and brought to the Lord, young women are leaving karaoke clubs to receive better opportunities through Rahab’s House in Siem Reap and the Agape Training Center, and the list goes on.
People are being saved, the kingdom is advancing and God is at work! There are two perspectives you can have coming into this environment: one is thinking how you can create something new with your own fingerprint on it, and the other is thinking how you can recognize quickly what God is doing and support it.
Consider the following prayer:
Lord, show me your fingerprints in Cambodia, the evidence of your workmanship in lives all throughout the country. Teach me to partner with what you are doing first before I ask for your blessings on something I’m dreaming about. Teach me to pray the prayer of Jesus, “not my will, but yours be done.”
49 Luke 22:42, ESV
50 1 John 4:9-10, ESV