"Joseph B. Wirthlin once said, “A testimony of the truth of the Gospel does not come the same way to all people. Some receive it in a unique, life-changing experience. Others gain a testimony slowly, almost imperceptibly until, one day, they simply know.”
My experience with HOPE worldwide over the last four years is captured by this quote. Each trip has brought about life-changing moments. At the same time, the trips have slowly but surely instilled in me a new perspective, a new purpose, a new heart. I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world. They have changed my view of people, of God, and of my dreams for my future.
Specifically in the summer of 2015, I had the incredible opportunity to return to Kenya on HOPE Youth Corps (I had previously gone as part of a smaller mission trip in 2012). Kenya embraced me as one of its own. Our team of 12 international disciples was joined by 10 locals. At the end of day one, you couldn’t differentiate between us. We became one cohesive unit. My soul was refreshed as I saw a glimpse of what heaven may be like one day – living in perfect unity. We laughed so hard we fell on the ground in tears. We danced like there was no tomorrow. We also cried, as we heard and saw stories that you would only believe if you were there to hear and see them for yourselves.
Tragedy. Poverty. Hardship. Heartache. But right alongside them, we saw strength. Humility. Gratitude. Joy. Too often, we think that hardship and joy are mutually exclusive. We think that suffering leads only to tears. We believe that good times are the ones without any pain. But, as I witnessed again in Kenya, this is not true in the stories we see unfold. As is often the case with the God we serve, life turns out to be a paradox. Even Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered (cf. Hebrews 5:8).
In Kenya, I saw what suffering had the potential to produce. The hearts of the disciples there once again blew me away. They weren’t there to seek their own glory. They woke up early to travel far to meet us, and returned home late. They gave their hearts, their time, their energy, their love. It is so true that we often go to a place to serve, only to be given to in a way that is more than we could ever pay back. This trip was no exception to that.
During our morning devos, we got to hear the testimony of one international disciple, and one Kenyan disciple. My heart was deeply impacted, as I saw the sovereignty of God perfectly align with the God who loves us individually. Each person, regardless of background or culture or family, was reached out to by our incredible God. At a time in my life where circumstances are difficult and I can easily think that God does not have a good plan for my life, I was quickly corrected and challenged on my view of God. He is not a God that quickly forgets us. He sees us, even when no one else does. And he pursues us with a relentless love.
I was able to have so many deep, powerful conversations with disciples on the trip. I was able to sit at the feet of incredibly faithful men and women. I heard of their all night prayer times they have once a month, where disciples gather around Friday night and don’t leave until 5 am on Saturday. I was challenged in my trust in the power of the Almighty God. I was inspired by the blind faith that so many had. To step out into the unknown, fully relying on God as their rock and foundation.
It came at a perfect time. My faith has been strengthened in ways that will have an eternal impact. Instead of praying for God to take away my pain, I now pray for the strength to stand in the midst of it. I pray for his name to be glorified, instead of praying for my life to be easier. As was proven during my time in Kenya, in more ways than one, the best way to learn about the gospel of Jesus is to live it out. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31)"
The team at Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary. SKMH opened in April 2012 with the mission to meet the needs of poor children and women of Southern Cambodia. It is managed by HOPE worldwide . Since its opening, nearly 50,000 patients have been touched by the team. On May 26, the hospital honored 31 employees who have served since the hospital’s opening day. Through the dedication of its staff and supporters, SKMH has seen tremendous growth. Since its opening, the hospital has accomplished the following:
· More than 140,000 patient consultations with nearly 50,000 new patients
· 71% of visits have been for women and children
· Nearly 800 children have been born at the hospital since the opening of the Maternity building in November 2014
· 7 Cambodian doctors have graduated from three year hospital training program.
· Currently employs over 180 people
· The Neo Natal Intensive care unit opened November 2015. To date the NICU has served 49 children
· Centralized Medical Gas System for NICU and campus opened in November 2016.
· Surgical department opened in 2015
· Surgical team has performed over 360 surgeries in 2016, not including C-Sections. 86 surgeries have been for children
· Blood bank opened in August 2016
· A Learning Center for children of hospital staff opened on June 12
Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital has been blessed with international support from medical and administrative partners as well as volunteers from around the world to serve and teach. The local Cambodian staff continues to grow and serves as the primary patient care providers.
The team is grateful for all the support that has been given this past five years; however, there remains more to do. Future development includes the addition of a CT scan, upgraded X-ray diagnostic equipment, continued development of staff training programming and pursuit of international accreditations. Please consider how you can make a difference at the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. Go to https://www.hopeww.org/donate . Use the drop down box and select Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. If you wish to learn more about the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital, please visit www.skmh.org .
Dr. Rin Receiving the Empathy Amplified AwardClick here to watch .
Jenny Harkabus spent Christmas serving in the Philippines. She wrote this, and also made a short video:
I did not imagine that I would be spending Christmas in the Philippines for my first HOPE Youth Corps experience. This opportunity has deeply changed my perspective on the importance of service in my daily walk.
We are created in God's image, therefore we are meant to help and serve others. I know this to be true because I have never felt so used by God and fulfilled, than the times spent serving and pouring out my love in the Philippines.
James 1:27 says, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Some translations refer to this as true religion. The bible also stresses the importance of giving to the poor (1 John 3:17, Matt 9:21, Proverbs 14:31). God considers caring for the poor and orphans as true religion, yet this can be an area of faith that is overlooked.
I was privileged to spend time with girls who have experienced trauma and abuse at the HOPE worldwide center in Laguna. Many of these girls have been separated from their families, becoming orphans, as a result of the abuse they have experienced. I also received the opportunity to play with children within the community as we rebuilt their homes and provided them with medical care. I witnessed the children’s precious value for human relationships, as they clung to me emotionally and physically. They showed me instant love and respect, which I find to be rare in today’s society. Our focus should be about investing in others just as the children in the Philippines invested in me.