You may be someone who prepares for everything, or for nothing, but the truth is, we prepare for so much in life before we even know it! However, do we prepare for our ‘Home Going’ (a term more familiar with Christians and brings a sense of comfort and joy). Are we prepared to meet the Lord?! A dramatic question perhaps, but it is also certain that we will one day pass away and that means we should be prepared in more ways than just the practical. The past few months have been emotional for many reasons… I have been confronted with the reality of needing to prepare my heart, in order to ‘let go‘. ‘Letting go’ can feel like such a loss, unless our perspective is heavenward, and eternal! No “goodbye” is easy, whether it is a temporary change or “until we meet again, together with the Lord in heaven“!
This past Saturday the Lord prompted my heart that I needed to visit our sweet sister Sophal at her sisters home in the village on Sunday, 2 hours away from the city. After church we had trouble to find transport for me but a good friend came to the rescue and was able to drive me safely to the Province of Takeo and the company was much needed on an emotional trip like this one. We arrived around 4pm in the afternoon and I thank God for granting me the time with Sophal that my heart desperately needed. I was also thankful to sit with and comfort her husband Chhrorn at this hard time and appreciated giving her mum and all her sisters big hugs and reassuring them that Jesus can take away Sophal’s pain and He is her comfort. I also took this time to encourage sister Sophal that she can “let go and take the Lord’s hand, He is waiting for you and will give you total peace.” Sophal’s frame was very weak and she was in pain but wow, was she wonderfully responsive and alert. She nodded her head at my words as I held her hand and kissed her cheek. Her mum also promised she would honor Sophal’s desire to have a Christian ‘celebration of life’ service. Her sisters, mum and dad took time to be in the room with Sophal, and after that her husband took time to sit with her.
Her eldest sister then kept Sophal company whilst we all ate dinner together and I could pray a blessing. At 7pm the eldest sister hurriedly called us into the room as sweet Sophal gave her spirit up to Jesus. It was one of the hardest and most emotional times of my life, particularly here in Cambodia. I thank God I could be there and of some support to them all. Jesus honored me with that time with them. I held her husband in my arms as he wailed and we just asked God for His comfort and peace, thanking the Lord that our precious Sophal was free of pain and held onto faith until the end. Total peace.
There was an immediate Buddhist preparation for Sophal according to the family’s cultural roots in preparation for her cremation service which happens on the family grounds. I left at 4:30 am Monday morning and was able to return later that day with team mates James and Agape. We comforted the family, gave financial gifts from dear supporters and our team (for helping ease the family’s burden as there are many needs including paying off medical fee debts) and took time with a group of our Khmer brothers and Sisters from our churches, to gather around Chhrorn and pray over him and his family. Sophal’s body was committed at 7:30pm in a very traditional Khmer ceremony which was a new experience for me and quite intense.
We are reminded daily that the body is not getting younger and sickness occurs, but being faced with death is hard and painful. Grief is a process and part of life and we just need to allow ourselves the time to walk through the stages and pray without ceasing. Please continue to hold the family in prayer and others who were close to Sophal. Sophal’s home church led by Pastor Rathy will hold the Christian service on November 17th for family and friends.
May we learn to rejoice in God’s goodness that at the end, our sister passed peacefully into the Lord’s arms knowing that faith in Him was her comfort & joy.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18