Cambodia is moving us

This won’t make total sense to you, and I’m fine with that.

Marla and I took a trip a few years back with a short-term (10 days) missions team from the church we were attending. I wasn’t so sure it was for me. We were going to visit an orphanage that the church supported. I really liked the team we were going with, but the mission itself sounded like a long flight to hug a few children.

That’s how I saw it. I now see that view as extremely selfish. Seeing the world like that is not how God sees it, that’s for sure. God doesn’t see me and my comfortable life as more important than any other life on the planet. That’s a problem when you haven’t traveled the planet, or even crossed the road in an effort to see how someone else lives.

On that first trip I learned that a good number of the white men that fly to Cambodia are there to sexually prey on very young children. I also learned that those same children will prey on you with lots of hugs and smiles. And every single one of those children lives a life that is just as important to God than the one I left back at the airport in Columbus.

Short-term trips like that change your life, but WAY too quickly. So do heart attacks.

A year or so (I guess – I’m bad with time) after the first trip, I had a massive heart attack at the age of 34. Should have died, for the third time in my life. God gave me another day. God ended up giving me another five weeks, to get up on my feet and get ready to head back to Cambodia for a second time. This time with just Marla and our three daughters.

We planned the trip for a long time before the heart attack. And the doctor agreed that we could get on a plane and make the trip. I just had to wear compression socks on the flight to help with blood circulation, and do a good amount of walking for exercise. He was fine with my rehab being pushed back until we returned five weeks later.

Serious anxiety showed up for the first time the last week of the trip. Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and a very confusing and challenging life continued for the next 1-2 years following our second trip (through early 2014).

But anxiety wasn’t the only thing I remember from the second trip. While on both trips God introduced me to a land that is very different from the one I live in. A land that offers a different life for the people there. Again, the people there are JUST AS unique and important as the people I left in the airport in Columbus. They don’t lack talent, creativity or intelligence. Their land has forced them to lack confidence and resources.

I also knew that was something God allowed for me to have compassion for. Taking everything He’s blessed me with and handing it over to someone else. And that is why Cambodia is moving us.

The vision that God has given me is pretty clear. I’m a self-employed web and graphic designer / photographer. I’ve seen God provide endless work. I’ve also seen God provide endless lessons in life, through discipleship and people investing and caring for me and my family.

I know that God wants me to help these people learn more about Him and learn more about the talents He’s given them. Will I make them better at what they do? Maybe a little, but more likely not. They’ll most likely make me better at what I do. I don’t see myself as a teacher, coming over to give them amazing lessons and instructions on how to climb corporate ladders, impress people with their skills, or earn a better living than their neighbors.

I see myself studying God’s word and living life with them. Watching them take pictures and enjoy the endless work that God can only provide. Will it be a business that we build together? That’s where I choose to be honest and say I HAVE NO IDEA, but God does.

I do have one idea. God’s allowed me to live longer than I maybe should have. That’s true for all of us though, right?

We have many friends already over there, and we look forward to partnering with what God is doing through them as much as we possibly can as well.

It’s challenging to open your mind, your heart, and your eyes to new things. It’s not easy to question whether or not your culture has lied to you for 37 years. It’s not a simple choice to be willing to take your family to a far-away culture. But God lets you feel, hear, and see new things for a reason. He has given you hope, and He just wants you to pass that on to someone who needs it.

Here’s a look at the Cambodia that is moving us. We appreciate your prayers and support!


  1. Well, obviously I love everything about this post. This line might be my favorite: “Taking everything He’s blessed me with and handing it over to someone else.”

    It’s an honor, privilege, and joy to walk through this life by your side. I’m so proud of you.

  2. Sue Oda

    I am so privileged to call you and Marla my friends. You can be assured of my prayers for your family. Love you guys!

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