Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ratha's Gift

It’s Christmastime, the season of giving.

This year, I was in Cambodia during Thanksgiving. I received from Ratha—a young lady at Rapha House—one of my best gifts early.

Ratha is the oldest girl in our program. She has been at Rapha House from its beginning. As a matter of fact, she is the reason that Rapha House exists.

Joe Garman, the founder of Rapha House, literally rescued her from the hands of the sex traffickers when they were preparing to take her away. Stephanie Freed went to work to provide for Ratha and a handful of girls like her a safe place to live. And now, Ratha has graduated from our program. But that’s not the gift I’m talking about.

After the graduation ceremony, this quiet and unassuming young woman took me aside to tell me something. She found a translator and said to me, “I want to tell you how deeply grateful I am.” Then she added, “You have loved me better than my own parents have loved me. And you have taught me to see the value that God places on me. Thank you.” And that was the gift that Ratha gave me.

After that, I was speechless and failed to correct her. Maybe I should have. But I failed to remind her of the important role that the Rapha staff plays. I failed to remind her of all the hours that Stephanie Freed and ARM personnel invest in this ministry. And I failed to say a word about the hundreds of donors who have sacrificially given to keep our ministry afloat. I didn’t say anything about all that. Probably I should have. But I didn’t. Instead, I gave her a hug, kissed her on the cheek, and told her that I love her.

As I sit writing this, I wonder where Ratha would be today without Joe Garman, Stephanie Freed, the Rapha staff and you, our supporters. And I shudder. Then I think about the hundreds of thousands of little girls that aren’t as fortunate as her. Nobody has reached them yet. And my heart breaks. So much is left to do. So many children are desperately waiting.

It’s the season for giving. Please consider Rapha House in your year-end giving. As you do, know that I’m passing on Ratha’s gift to you. You deserve it, too. Thank you for caring.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)