Helping to lead an HOPE Youth Corps (HYC) for the first time was an experience that led to incredible growth for myself. At the time it felt more like being stretched beyond my limits, but looking back on it now I see that what I viewed as limits in the moment were simply opportunities for God to work in ways far greater than my faith. When I was insecure in myself, I had to be wholly secure in God. When I was at my end, God was just getting started. When I was uncomfortable, the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) was able to work wonders that would have been impossible otherwise. I learned very quickly where my comfort zones were and were not, and I learned that God was going to take me to where those comfort zones were not. Through the opportunity afforded me in helping to lead an HYC, God took me beyond my comfort zone and allowed me to realize that the cross of Jesus is all about going beyond comfort zones.
There were many areas on the HYC which were beyond my comfort zone. One area was leadership. I prefer to be delegated to rather than being the one delegating. Similarly, I prefer to follow a plan rather than being the one who comes up with the plan. Preparing and delivering lessons was also beyond my comfort zone. It usually takes me several weeks to prepare just one lesson for the campus ministry back home, so having to deliver six lessons over the course of two weeks most definitely stretched me beyond where I was comfortable. Another area that stretched me was cold contact evangelism. Reaching out and inviting strangers to study the Bible on campus is not a strong point of mine. I find it awkward and uncomfortable, so having to lead others who were equally if not more awkward and uncomfortable with the whole idea was certainly even further beyond my comfort zone. The area of drama was also beyond my comfort zone. Seeing as the HYC was an American site, there were predominantly high school aged teens on the trip, and several of these teens were not disciples of Jesus or were fairly young in their walks with God. Therefore, understandably, issues such as gossip and flirtation came up as we served on the HYC. I wasn’t comfortable with such things when I myself was a high school student, and time had not helped to make it any more comfortable for me. In all these areas I was forced to go beyond my comfort zones.
Apart from the feelings of discomfort on the HYC, there was also feelings of inadequacy as I attempted to help lead the program. There were plenty of people more qualified than me on the trip. There was an evangelist who had helped with the program for the last ten years, a ministry couple who lead a campus ministry, and an HYC coordinator who was able to pull off the first ever under-budget HYC for that site in eleven years. Meanwhile, I was feeling that the opportunity to help lead had been handed to me rather than earned. I didn’t even know what the acronym “GSI” (Global Service Intern) meant until after the deadline for applications had passed, so although no one else ever called into question my adequacy as a leader I most certainly did. Being given something rather than earning it was not a new feeling for me as a disciple of Christ though, for that is exactly what grace is all about.
The inadequacy and discomfort I felt on the HYC pales in comparison to that of the cross of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus showed me where I was inadequate in my sin, He was more than adequate, and the discomfort that he bore is the source of all my comfort as His disciple. The cross is all about going beyond comfort zones. For one, Jesus was not entirely comfortable going to the cross. Why else would He have cried out to His Father in Gethsemane “take this cup from me” (Luke 22:42). At the cross, Jesus went beyond His physical comfort zones with the flogging and crucifixion, beyond His emotional comfort zones with Judas betraying him and the others denying or deserting Him, and beyond His spiritual comfort zones with the separation from God the Father. Yet, even in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus continued on to say “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Although the cross was not comfortable, it was necessary.
The necessity of the cross is that it allowed for us to move beyond our comfort zones. In Ephesians 2:1-10, it becomes abundantly clear that our comfort zone, apart from the cross, was sin. Sin is what felt good, was gratifying, natural, and comfortable. What God has called us to is righteousness, heavenly realms, grace, and the kindness of Christ, all of which are uncomfortable and foreign to our former selves apart from the cross. Following in Jesus’ footsteps as His disciple is all about what is uncomfortable but necessary. Leading an HYC was no exception to this.
Although leading my first HYC had plenty of times where I did not feel comfortable or adequate, there was plenty of comfort in knowing that God was adequate and in control. As a disciple of Christ there is no certainty of our own security, only certainty of God’s sovereignty. He is in control on HYC, and He is in control wherever I may go, but most importantly He is in control at the cross where He took us out of our sin and into His righteousness. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that was afforded me through leading my first HYC to grow, to learn, and to draw closer to my Lord and Saviour through a deeper understanding of His sacrifice at the cross. Through Him, I was able to preach good news to the poor and proclaim the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19) on the HYC. Lives were changed and hope was brought, not only for those I was able to serve and lead, but also for myself.
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.