“Please God, help!” was my faithful cry from the frontlines of the Cambodian mission field as I witnessed chapter 1 of the book of Job playing out right in front of me.
Our group has recently been passing through a terrible crisis. Like in Job 1—where the first messenger was still busy giving his sad report when the next messenger came through with more bad news—in the same week, we learned that the mother of one of our career missionaries passed away, and the four career missionary families in our group, plus three of our student missionaries, all contracted COVID-19. All except me.
As the rest of my team went into quarantine, what followed were endless calls and messages between myself and team members and physicians in America, trying to find out what my new patients needed, and days of organizing lists of things to buy for their care. Using whatever language skills I have picked up—how essential this skill is for a missionary’s life—I began asking the locals where to find COVID-19 tests, aspirin, nebulizers, thermometers, charcoal, and vitamins C, D and zinc. Soon, I was making endless trips to the local market searching for healthy food and visiting all the small shops—what locals call pharmacies, but are actually display closets with available medications.
Living in a remote village during the COVID-19 crisis meant that one or more families did not receive the medicine they needed when they needed it the most. It was just nowhere to be found.
Then, not only were the missionaries sick—some to a much greater extent than others—but the crisis affected our school and village ministry as the principal, teachers and spiritual leaders were quarantined. It also affected my own routine of language learning studies during the week and connecting with the local Khmer people on the weekends to give food to the needy, minister to their needs, and spend time with children and teach them about Jesus.
One day, while relying on God to lead me in managing this crisis, I received a call for help from one of our career missionaries living in Lauka village. On top of their contracting COVID-19, the water pump in their house was also not working. Sick and without water. My heart ached for them as I imagined what they must be going through at that moment.
I began searching for plastic containers, asking my Khmer neighbors for whatever they had, then began filling the containers with water and taking them out to Lauka village. When I eventually arrived at their house and stopped, I heard the sound of running water. Oh no! Can this be? I thought. Quickly and in a very unladylike fashion, I climbed, wearing my long skirt, onto the back of the truck. In dismay, I saw that I had lost more than half of the water. The mountainous road had been just too rugged. The water containers that took me forever to fill; the water that I had to carry by myself and load onto the truck after a long day of endless calls, shopping for patients, and immersing myself in language classes; this water was flowing from the back of my truck and onto the ground. All I could think of was the people who needed this water and had been without a supply the entire day—and how very sick they were.
There, on the truck, I helplessly lifted my head to the starlit sky and saw a beautiful moon. While the water was running from the back of my truck and onto the ground, I also allowed the water inside me to run freely from the windows of my soul and cried out to God: “Please help! God, you have carried me through this crisis thus far. Please don’t allow me to break now. We still have a long way to go until everything is back to normal on the project. Please God, help!”
And just like Jesus reached out His hand to Peter when he cried for help, Jesus also reached out His hand to me.
The next morning, one family tested negative for COVID-19 and was allowed to come out of quarantine, meaning three people could now share the burden. Praise God!
God also provided a local Khmer friend of mine who was able to help the career missionaries by fixing their water pump problem. Again, praise God!
During this entire experience, I asked God’s help with every step I took, whether while finding specific healthy food and medication, cooking meals, receiving traveling mercies, or language learning. God worked many miracles in my life, and I experienced His mercy, comfort and guidance. He kept me from getting infected with COVID-19 during all this time, and He is healing all the members of our group, one by one.
Dear reader, I would like to invite you to embrace and face every challenge with a humble attitude, knowing that our help comes from the Creator of heaven and earth. Whatever situation you might be working through, He is there, ready, willing and more than able to help. Surrender every care to Him.
As David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).
During our life, we will have to fight a lot of lions and bears with the help of God so that we can be ready to fight our Goliath. Faith can only grow if we are exposed to faith-growing experiences. Oh, what a wonderful, merciful Savior we serve.