With Rapha International being our featured Impact Partner for the month of November, we are revisiting this story from a trip Darrin King, one of our elders, and some others on our staff took to Cambodia with Rapha International earlier this year.

Have you ever had the experience of being ‘lost in translation’? It usually refers to (sometimes funny) things that happen when translation is attempted across languages. If you’ve seen the 2003 film Lost in Translation, you may agree with director Sofia Coppola that the phrase also refers to “things being disconnected, and looking for moments of connection.” One of my own experiences might be described in that way.

Recently I had the opportunity to travel with Drake Holderman and Maggie Schade to visit the ministry of Rapha International in Cambodia. I think my expectations for this trip were realistic, knowing I could expect disruption to my eating and sleeping routines, especially with a 13-hour time difference between Missouri and Cambodia. I also expected to enjoy arriving in a tropical country in February and being hosted by the hospitable people of Cambodia. Those expectations were fulfilled admirably!

Rapha International provides aftercare for survivors of sexual trafficking by facilitating healing, hope and freedom for girls in Cambodia, Thailand, and Haiti. Upon arriving, we toured the main facilities and met some of the professionally trained caregivers who serve the residents. That evening one of my not-so-fun expectations was met, that of not being able to communicate in the Khmer language. But we were blessed through the translation efforts of those who understood not only a foreign language but also the depths of the needs of the brave survivors whom Rapha serves. Much of my perception of those needs was inadequate and they needed to be further interpreted to my heart. I’m not sure I had that expectation for my visit, but I’m now sure that Jesus did. I would have many more such moments of connection!

One of those occurred when we got to visit the ‘Little House’. This part of Rapha’s work serves survivors with special needs, who carry with them additional and very specific concerns in their journey to healing and wholeness. When we stopped by to meet the girls and caregivers, the girls took us by the hand to come and sit as a group on a bamboo mat that was only about twelve feet square. The caregivers shared some of the girls’ achievements and milestones, and some of the girls recited Bible verses. As each one participated, one of the girls sitting next to me (we’ll call her Stella) began to tug on my arm. She was a bit challenged verbally, and I didn’t know Khmer, so one of the caregivers translated for her. Stella, they explained, was certain that we were all having a church service, and of course, knew that we needed to be praying. Stella herself wanted to pray, and since there were visitors present, insisted that I translate her prayer for the group! As I realized what was happening, Stella had already begun praying, expressing very regular sounds with pauses, which I, fortunately, recognized as the moments for my English translation. And so I began to offer short phrases of thanksgiving and request to God, knowing “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us (translates)…in accordance with God’s will” (Rom. 8:26, 27). As everyone saw what was happening, we became still and attentive to Stella’s prayer. What began as cultural disconnection became holy connection, and some of God’s other ‘expectations’ were delightfully fulfilled for His precious children – all of those present.

Considering some of God’s expectations – hopes – that might be translated to our hearts, could I suggest the picture of a father with their child? I’m talking about our heavenly Father, because even in the case of many of these rescued girls, there hasn’t been a father that met the hopes and needs that are so critical in a child’s life. In many moments like the one described above, I remembered times of connection I’ve had with my own children, especially my daughter. Any seasoned parent knows that sitting down to a tea party with your daughter and a company of stuffed animals isn’t about caffeine needs or even the social development of our child! Rather it’s about connection, isn’t it? It’s about the translation of desires in a little heart for which there are not yet words that can be expressed. It’s also about the reconnections that occur in a big heart that has often been hardened by the hurts of living years in a world of disingenuous expressions of love, and poor translations of real love. And as we sit with Jesus, “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being,” he is translating the heart of the Father to us, His children. This is the Father’s hope as we are being ‘saved in translation’ – to know His heart that longs to connect with us!

Post written by Darrin King.

Rapha International

In 2003, Rapha International began an aftercare program for underage female survivors rescued from slavery and sexual exploitation in Battambang, Cambodia. Today, Rapha is an international organization working in Cambodia, Thailand and Haiti. Rapha’s model is to recruit and equip local staff who are qualified and passionate about combatting child slavery, sexual exploitation, and abuse in their own countries. Rapha also provides trauma-focused therapy for child, teen, and adult survivors of a variety of traumas, including violence, sexual abuse, and trafficking, at their Hope & Healing Center located here in Joplin.

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