Neang was reflecting as she lay on her bed in a small maternity clinic. She had just given birth by Caesarean Section and was now tired, very sore and dazed by the ordeal. Only yesterday she had struggled as people hurriedly pushed her into a vehicle to get to the clinic, when it had been time for the baby to be born. She remembered how traumatic it had been to give birth to her first son, Ezekiel, and she thought that she could not go through it again.
Now, twenty-four hours later, it was all over, and she was gazing at Caleb, her handsome new baby boy. Her husband, Savuth, was there standing at his wife’s side, and looking proudly at his second son. Ezekiel peeped over at his little brother and dreamed about him growing big enough to play games. Friends came to congratulate them and brought lovely new baby clothes and talcum powder. And yet Neang was sad – something was missing. Her mother had not come to take her place in the family scene.
Neang lived in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Like thousands of others, her parents had disappeared during the terrible Pol Pot years of torture and death. She had been brought up in various families and earned her living by selling rice noodles, coffee, etc.; eventually finding work in an orphanage. At the age of 26 she had married Savuth, another orphan with no family. In time they were made house parents of the orphanage. They had become Christians and longed to provide the little orphans with a secure home in the love of Jesus.
“But at the birth of a child it should be the grandmother who comes to bathe the baby and care for the mother”, cried Neang’s heart. (This is the custom in Cambodia.) She felt that no matter how old she got, and no matter how many friends she had, she could not escape the fact that she was a motherless orphan. But the Lord heard the cry of her heart, and longed to come to her.
Fee was a missionary in Cambodia. She had had a busy day, as usual. She had gotten up early and met with the Lord, and she had led a devotional time with the 20 young people and 10 children who lived in the big house with her family.
She had tried to walk with the Lord through the different things He asked her to do that day. Late in the afternoon she had been to a Government hospital to visit and pray with a man and his family. The doctors thought he would die when they saw the huge spread of infection in his intestine. She had gone on to visit a lad who had been poaching fish when someone opened fire on him. Two bullets had gone through his calf, and now the calf and foot were seriously swollen and infected.
The evening meal was on the table at home, but that night the Lord asked Fee to make one more visit to a different hospital. She knew that Neang had just given birth.
“Would you bathe Caleb, please?” they asked her. So Fee took some water, gently unwrapped the tiny baby, and bathed him. Then she dried him, dusted him with powder and wrapped him up in clean, new clothes. The contented baby started to drop off to sleep. She had done it so many times with her own children years ago in England, but this time was very special. Neang started to cry, it was such a beautiful moment. Fee held Neang’s hand, stroked her head, and talked softly into her ear. She prayed for Neang and the love and peace of the Lord reached her heart.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”
On a visit to our long-term team in Cambodia