Julia Liles – May 2020


Locked-down NOT Locked-out!

Looking at ‘Lock down’ from a different perspective is essential. Though many may perceive this time as being bound, controlled and fearsome- can we dare to look at it differently? I say this knowing the realities that we may not be exposed to… We may not all be aware of the causes this situation is having on those who already battle loneliness, mental health struggles, domestic  violence, child abuse, and ill health. However, my prayer remains that there will be BREAKTHROUGH. That there will be increased awareness about all of these issues, more help will follow, more support services activated, more volunteers, more people impassioned to train and qualify for roles they may not have otherwise considered. More loving-kindness between neighbour’s. More conversations that are desperately needed… Despite this Lock Down, I hope that more voices will be heard before they become screams though I think we are all aware that there have been silent screams for decades and we need to let those voices be heard now.

One incredible answer to prayer at the moment for us over in Cambodia is that due to the COVID-19 lock-down, the bars and brothels are closed! Though this will effect the income of those who would receive some sort of pay, we rejoice and thank God for the freedom this situation gives to many of the men, women and children who are trapped into sexual exploitation. My prayer is big! That following this time of lock down, many of the bars will not be able to reopen, that many who work for these brothels will have the chance to walk away. I pray that this time will give a ‘moment’s breath’ for many of the most vulnerable, to find a healthier way to source an income. I expect many of these individuals would have returned to their villages and left the city during lock-down, so I pray they will be welcome into the family home and have time to start healing. Likewise there needs to be prayer for the many rescue homes in Cambodia to continue their essential ministry despite all that’s going on.    

Something I am very aware of is the amount of support systems already in place here in the UK, this is a privilege and blessing. Though we know that much more work needs to be done and we do need more man-power, we can be thankful for what we have already. Many, too many parts of the world are starved of the amount of care and support that we get  provided here in England, so for that may we be grateful. Recently my mother received a call from the local council, they had considered her for need of a food parcel. Mum was so surprised and thankful for the thought but was able to decline as we manage well and can get to the local shops for our supplies. They also kindly asked how my father was since he is registered on their list as disabled and 85 years of age. This took mum’s breath away as she had not been expecting that question and she proceeded to tell the lady that her husband had passed. The woman expressed her condolences and mum was left with her thoughts. Dad not being with our family is a very strange reality that we struggle to actually believe, however I am aware that had Dad been with us today this would have been extremely difficult in terms of hospitalization and not being able to visit him, we couldn’t have coped well with that so my heart goes out to all the families who are losing loved ones at this time. However hard it is for me to accept that Dad is not actually with us, I do recognize God’s grace to ‘call Dad home’ prior to the lock-down period and that I have an extended time with my mum and family. May we remain thankful for God’s love, His comfort, His timing, His knowing and His strength when we need it most.        

As I think about ‘Lock-down’, what it means and what is required of us, I realise that no matter what, we do not need to be ‘Locked-out’ of a relationship with God. He can be accessed at all times, by all people, in all places, regardless of any situation or restriction. God is an ever present, powerfully compassionate, loving God. We always have the choice to ‘Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you.’ (James 4:8). How much more profound that seems at a time when our government has instructed ‘distance’ from everyone. Physical distance is one thing I struggle with most! Anyone who knows me, knows that ‘hugging’ is a language I use most in order to communicate and without it I feel a little lost! That was one of my first challenges on arrival in Cambodia more than 4 years ago, a culture that does not display public affection. I had to learn then and I have to learn now, that communication can indeed stretch beyond the capacity to which we are familiar, and you will be surprised how incredible that transcendence can be. Much like when a person puts their trust in Jesus for the first time, and then throughout that journey of faith, it is an unexpected and incredibly deeper relationship of discovery, understanding, commitment and love and beautifully punctuated by the truth that God first loved us! (1 Jn 4:19).

So may we continue to reach-out and support others in new ways. May we stand together, being thankful for what we have and better supporting those for whom life has always been a battle. May we speak up for the voice less, provide for those with less and extend a word of love to those who so desperately need to hear it. Knowing that whatever our fears, doubts or struggles, God keeps the door open allowing us the opportunity to walk through and experience a life of Salvation that provides a deeper strength than we know is possible, within the security of a loving relationship with the Lord. That brings light to an otherwise dark world. That brings hope to hopeless situations and that brings joy through the rain! Many rainbows are being displayed in windows of UK homes to encourage hope, may we be reminded of God’s promise to ‘Never leave us nor forsake us’ (Hebrews 13:5b) during our times of need- Call on Him and He will answer! Be strong and keep looking up! Much love from me to you! Julia x   


Thankful for this time with mum and our walks and talks together!
Thankful that I have enjoyed calls and video chats with those I’m close with over in Cambodia and the ability to keep some connection with the women I know.

Praising God that thanks to technology we continue to have a Khmer church service online that is well accessed by the majority and my team there are well! 
Blessed to get to know and reconnect with members of my home church in the UK. 

Please continue to pray for some of the points mentioned in the letter above.
Pray too that as things may settle and improve, I will have a clearer idea of when my return to Cambodia will be possible (perhaps next month, June)