Something Had to Die
Curls of cigarette smoke wafted up the wall and into our window in the Phnom Penh SDA Mission compound, tainting every breath I took. I started to feel nauseous. The boisterous gamblers were here again, playing cards, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, throwing trash around outside the gate and loudly talking over their incessant music.
I don’t know how many times various people from the Mission have tried to witness to these guys, or plead with them to move somewhere else, or just to befriend them. But when the Cambodian sun beat down, this shaded patch of sidewalk under a tree was still their favorite hangout.
In exasperation, the Mission leadership devised a plan to relocate the loiterers by removing their shade. They asked me to be the one to cut down the tree. The growl of my chainsaw definitely drew a crowd, especially the disgruntled regulars. I caught the word barang (foreigner) a few times when I turned off the saw. It is probably best that I didn’t hear the full extent of what they were saying about me.
As the tree dwindled down to nothing more than a seven-foot-tall stump, the gamblers moved off around the corner. What a blessing to finally have some peace! Unfortunately, it came at the expense of a beautiful tree. Something had to die in order to fix the problem.
It reminded me that Jesus’ death on the cross was an incomparable blessing to mankind. He hung on the tree for these Cambodian gamblers and for me. Just as this tree had to die for the good of everyone living inside the gates of the Mission, so Jesus died for everyone living in this world.
Fittingly, they’re going to make a cross out of the stump I left in the ground. It will be a permanent fixture in front of the Mission to always remind us that Jesus died for all.
Please pray that the precious people of Cambodia will someday see the love of Jesus through His sacrifice for them.