(reposted from ohtheplacesyoullgo-jl.blogspot.com/ – January 25, 2012)
One thing to know about Cambodian culture is that the poor have a far less chance of making it than those in America. There are very few organizations or government entities to help those less fortunate. In Cambodia, many attribute karma to the dispositions and disabilities of others, thus making them less compassionate toward others.
It is amazing how God brings people in our lives to bring a dramatic change. God brought Michael into Josh’s life for simply that reason. Michael is a disabled young man in his early 20’s who sells books on the streets of Phnom Penh. He makes a couple of dollars a day after all his expenses, barely enough to survive. He most likely has multiple sclerosis. Eric met Michael on the streets four or five years ago while Michael was selling books. Every day, Michael hits the streets, working hard to persuade people to buy his books.
One morning, Michael came to Eric & Josh with obvious pain in his eyes. His uncle had just passed away. It’s never easy to lose a loved one; most of us know the feeling. However, it was especially difficult for Michael. He lost one of the few people that actually cared about him. Due to his disabilities, he has very few friends or people that love him. Now one of those few had passed away. As Michael told the story of his uncle’s passing in his broken English, tears came to his eyes and his lip began quivering. This was no ploy to scam tourists for money. He considered the guys friends, people who cared about him. Eric & Josh were the ones Michael came to when he was in pain. Eric told Michael he cared about him and that Jesus loved him. Eric ended up helping Michael out with a few dollars to pay for a funeral service. However, it was not the money that Michael cared about, it was the fact that two men took the time to care about his pain when there are few others in his life who would care.
Over the course of this trip we spent time with several disabled or special needs kids. Josh seemed to struggle with this the most, unsure how to act or what to do. But with Michael it was different; Josh was immediately drawn to him and didn’t treat him as if he was handicapped, he treated him as a friend he had known forever. Although we only spent a short bit of time with Michael, he made a very big impact on Josh and he will forever hold a special place in his heart.