Love is Everywhere

By Debbie Dreckow

It was an honour to be chosen by Lutheran Women Australia (LWA) to visit our partner churches with Glenice Hartwich, and later Kendrea Rhodes, on an amazing journey. During our time on this overseas partner church visit, we met many different inspiring, God-fearing, nurturing people of Jesus. We started off this remarkable journey in the […]

It was an honour to be chosen by Lutheran Women Australia (LWA) to visit our partner churches with Glenice Hartwich, and later Kendrea Rhodes, on an amazing journey.

During our time on this overseas partner church visit, we met many different inspiring, God-fearing, nurturing people of Jesus. We started off this remarkable journey in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

On our first morning, we had the privilege of visiting two children’s homes; Rumah Hope and Rumah Chrestus.

Rumah Hope is a home for orphaned children. This home offers a caring environment for the children to live, grow and learn, in the name of Jesus. At Rumah Hope we met Pastor Peter who led us through the home, where we met the children, who were full of smiles and made us feel very welcome. In the morning we joined their Bible Study and prayed with the children. Our visit was short but memorable.

We met with Bishop Solomon Rajah, the Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Malaysia (ELCM), and learnt of plans that are currently evolving in the ELCM. We set off to a sister home of Rumah Hope, Rumah Chrestus, a home for children who have been neglected, or abused by their families. I felt that it was such a dedicated and respectful place for the children, because they are supported by a loving and dedicated housemother (Maligga), who provided the children with their daily needs, as well as discipline and prayer.

The following day we met Mr Jayasingh Rajaih, the Director of Bethany Home in Perak, three hours’ drive out of Kuala Lumpur. I realised what a wonderful dedicated man he was. The first stop was Light House, a sheltered workshop and an extension of Bethany Home. We were greeted with such enthusiasm by everyone. The day we visited, everyone was putting small nuts and bolts onto handles of kettles. This work gives them all a small allowance, and a sense of achievement. This workshop provides an opportunity for employment for the older members of the Bethany Home family, with various handcrafts including beautiful bookmarks being available for sale.

The minute I walked through the doors of Bethany Home, a place for children with special needs, I could feel the peace and love. Bethany Home offers the children a safe place to be educated, nurtured and loved. The teachers, who despite limited training in special needs teaching, are able to accomplish amazing things with the children and young people, because they have a deep respect and love for those in their care. The older children are cared for and offered ‘life experiences’, by training in tasks which keep the home clean and neat; they sweep the floors and tidy spaces. The teachers are so patient and loving with the young people. It was an inspiring place to visit, and I felt the love that the children receive each and every day. Praise be to God!

The next day we were met by a wonderful group from the Lutheran Church in Malaysia (LCM), Michael May, Doris and Mr Garry Lee (Chair of the LCM Orang Asli ministry committee). We travelled to the Cameron Highlands, where we met together with members and ministry leaders of the Orang Asli, indigenous people of Malaysia.

What a joy to meet these people. God has chosen these people to be the ‘light’ in their community. I was blessed to see once again the love they show to others. When I reflect on my visit with these people, I see the great opportunity for a partnership in prayer with Lutheran Women of Australia and the Orang Asli in the LCM. I was extremely inspired by Irai, a 19 year old, who has been chosen by the LCM to study to be the first Orang Asli pastor of the LCM. His faith and passion for sharing the good news of Jesus was inspiring.

It was encouraging to see that the women make handicrafts to sell, in order to make an income for their families. However, the younger women were more interested in using modern plastics, rather than wanting to use the traditional materials, such as bamboo!

During the visit to the Cameron Highlands we stayed at the LCM guest house, and were blessed with the gift of hospitality by the two women who have served there for over 40 years, and by the ministry team from LCM.

On Sunday we had the opportunity to worship with members of one of the LCM congregations in KL. It was International Father’s Day, and the children and youth celebrated Father’s Day with love!

Pastor Augustine preached on the Gospel of Luke, and his focus was the Prodigal Son. I was so inspired by the way pastor challenged us, to think about the son who was ‘left behind’ as the ‘lost’ son. It was a very powerful sermon! After the service we joined the congregational members for a delicious shared lunch.

We arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, and were met by a wonderful lady Sally Lee/Kim (Mission Coordinator of the Lutheran Church in Singapore). Sally spends much of her time in Cambodia. Kendra Rhodes (Mission Communications assistant) joined us from Adelaide.

Sunday evening we visited the Rainbow Hostel. The hostel is a joining ministry between the Lutheran Church in Singapore (LCS), and its overseas partner churches including the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) and is the new project of LWA. The hostel is surrounded by a very vibrant community with many families. It is home to nearly 60 students who are involved in various tertiary studies. We were welcomed and humbled with hearty clapping when we walked through the door.

The visit provided us with the opportunity to join these inspiring young people for worship and to hear about the project that they have initiated called Youth Association of Cambodia (YAC). Chantrea, a young medical student, is dedicated to this cause and he gave a passionate explanation of the project that involved going to the provinces (where they were born) to share what they have been learning at university with the people in the villages. They’ve been able to teach about agriculture, health, provide medical help and have inspired young people in the schools in the villages about education prospects for them following their completion of high school. Chantrea himself is truly inspiring. In order to study medicine in Cambodia, he needs to undertake studies in French, as all his lectures are in this language. And as if he isn’t busy enough, he is also studying International Studies! I learnt how passionate these young people are to help the families in the villages make a difference in Cambodia and in the lives of these people whose country has been so affected by war in its most recent history.

A peek into the hostel dormitories of the students enabled me to take a look at the writing on the wall near the bed of one of the female students – five Bible verses that are the first and last thing she sees each day. They are from Revelation 4:11, Romans 3:10-12, Romans 3:23, Hebrews 9:27 and Ephesians 2:3-9.

Following worship we had a time of sharing and heard some amazing stories about what the Lord is doing in their lives. I was so impressed by their gratitude, being so thankful for everything they have. It gave me much joy to pass on greetings on behalf of LWA.

In the province of Kampong Chhnang we were able to visit the local hospital – very basic compared to our standards – but staffed by very dedicated people. We visited the ophthalmology specialist who undertakes many cataract operations per day. The people line up in the morning, are operated on in the afternoon and seen the next morning.

I was also surprised how fresh their milk supply is! There was a cow being milked outside the kitchen area!

Time spent in the village of Phum Krus (a further half-hour drive from Kampong Chhnang) at the Lutheran Life Centre with the dedicated staff, was an awesome experience. As part of the daily routine we worshipped with the staff and interns of the Centre. We sang in our own language ‘What a Friend we Have in Jesus’. Pastor Daniel Orn and his wife Srey Pove and the other staff and interns shared their prayer requests, and gave us insights into their dreams and visions for the future in Cambodia; all wanted to share Jesus with the people of Cambodia. Sara, an intern and Christian education teacher, said she ‘would like to see the children equipped with the Word of God and nourished physically and spiritually’. I was humbled when they all prayed for my daughter Katrina and son-in-law Trevor who were not well while I was away. It was amazing to hear the prayers being translated from English to Khmer.

I joined Long Sol (staff member) and Chanton (intern) in the tuk tuk loaded with big pots of rice, pork and vegetables. What a joy this was, serving the food to the elderly and incapacitated people of the village. Even more joy was the opportunity to pray for these people. I shed tears of joy at being given the privilege of praying for each of them. What a humbling experience to see these people smile and grab my hands in thanks. Back at the Life Centre we enjoyed the same delicious meal that had been lovingly prepared by Ek Munta, Srey Pove and Long Sol.

The joy continued when I joined Srey Neath, Srun Thida and Duy Saran, three young students who have studied English at high school. They willingly give up their time to come to the Life Centre and share their knowledge with the village children. The children come to the Centre for a meal, devotions and English classes. I was able to give the girls a helping hand with pronunciation of the words. It was such a blessing to be able to share with such willing learners! I was amazed at the handwriting and nearness of their work. These children are so hungry to learn English! I was reading a book to a small boy, and before long I had many children surrounding me.
Later in the day we walked through the village with interns, Ray Smey and Chanton, and looked at gardens and fish ponds which have been established following training in organic farming methods. The interns were such fun; I was quite sad to leave this wonderful area.

Flying from Phnom Penh, we arrived in the bustling city of Bangkok, Thailand. We met the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT), Banjob Kusawadee, who was formerly a Buddhist and came to know Jesus through friends. He studied at Australian Lutheran College (ALC) from 2000 to 2005. Banjob expressed his appreciation of the $7,000 given from the offering of the recent LWA Convention to be used to help in the maintenance of Home of Praise. A further $7,000 given from the LWA Convention offering will be used for ministry in the Nan Province. He asked us to pray for unity in Thailand. The Bishop served us some delicious fresh local fruit: mangosteens, jack fruit, and java apple.

We were introduced to Anna from the Lutheran Church in Norway, who are in partnership with the ELCT, and taken to visit the Home of Praise and Home of Grace.

Home of Praise provides day care for children living in the slums in difficult and troubled circumstances – often from families where parents are drug affected or in jail. It is a bright light in a dark world – situated under a freeway in the slums of Klong Toey. The children are looked after very well and beautifully nurtured both physically and spiritually.

Sao, the Director and teacher showed me the walls of the home severaly damaged by white ants. The $7,000 will go a long way to fix this when a team of 20 people from the LCA go to Bangkok in January to carry out renovation and restoration work at the home. The team will be led by Pastor Mark Schultz and Simon King.

Next we visited the Home of Grace, a home for unwed mothers and their babies, and had the opportunity to talk to Anja (Finish Evangelical Lutheran Mission) and the caring staff. At Home of Grace the young women find a place of hope and love and are taught skills needed to care for themselves and their new babies. They also learn how to make various handicrafts to sell. I was privileged to be able to purchase some of their lovely items. Anja asked us to pray for the mothers and babies and for strength for the dedicated Christian staff. This home is such a peaceful place and I felt special when I was handed a precious new baby to cuddle!
At the end of the day I said goodbye to my travelling companions and got into a taxi to begin my journey home at the end of one of the most inspiring journeys I will ever make.

Thanks must go to the Lord for providing his total protection for all of us!


If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about volunteering at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/

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About the Author : Erin Kerber


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