While the sting of Naa’s death doesn’t just go away, I am finding Jesus pierces through the sting in strange and yet comforting ways. Some of you have been so very kind to write or check in as the process continues for me and my team. For your care and prayers, I am deeply grateful.
Some of the comfort Jesus is giving happened even while I was in Cambodia and spent some time just listening and grieving with Naa’s family. I sat with Jod and Aun and listened to them recount the events that ended in Naa’s death. They shared. We wept deeply. We sat in silence wiping tears and sweat from our faces while the bugs and ants scurried around our toes. Jod’s prosthetic leg hung from what remains of his leg as he stared off into agonized grief, sharing details mingled with questions. Aun sat across from Jod. Her constant tears suspended as pools in her weary eyes. Her face hung in an emotionless — almost catatonic — stance. The grief was unimaginably thick in a place that is unimaginably harsh.
What do you say in moments like those? How I wish I knew. We sat in a lot of silence, just crying together and holding each other. After what seemed like an hour (even though it was probably only minutes), I felt an urge from the Spirit to say something and all I could think was to share my firm conviction that Naa knew Jesus. I told them I saw Naa raise her hand several years ago after a team from America had hosted a vacation Bible school and gave the children an opportunity to invite Jesus into their lives. Naa was one of the children who joyfully raised her hand and prayed, with heart-felt conviction. Later that week, Naa was also one of the many children who decided to be baptized in the dirty village pond. After recounting this conviction to her parents, Jod said some things that have lingered in my heart and been such an encouragement in the weeks that have followed. Here are just a few of the things he shared:
“I believe Naa knew Jesus too…the final days of her life, Naa prayed constantly to Jesus. She often prayed out loud so we could all hear her.”
“Many times, Naa asked us to please go to church. She said: ‘Mom and Dad, I want you to know Jesus like I know Him. I want you to go to church…please will you go?’”
“After Naa died, we asked the Buddhist monk to come to our home and conduct a funeral for Naa. He came but everything he tried to do in the Buddhist way was prevented. He was not successful. We think it is because Naa didn’t want a Buddhist funeral. She wanted a Christian funeral and we think her spirit was preventing the monk from succeeding in his Buddhist rituals.”
“My oldest son called to say he had a vision of Naa in a dream a few days after her death. In that vision, he saw Naa in a purple party dress — like the color for royalty. She was dancing and laughing. He said: ‘Naa is not sad to leave you. She is happy and dancing now.’”
I’m not a theology expert, but how the grieving words of Jod have circled around my mind since the death of this sweet little girl. Her testimony was and is having a deep impact in her home, her village, and me.
To hear how she prayed from her death bed gives me hope mingled with questions.
To learn of her pleas asking her parents to go to church and seek Jesus brings whispers of life.
To hear about the Buddhist funeral and her parent’s interpretation stirs wondering about life after death.
And to listen to her brother’s vision about Naa dressed in the color of royalty, dancing and laughing strengthens my faith in the hope of the resurrection and a heavenly Kingdom.
I don’t have all the answers and never will. But, these things have given great hope to my soul. I hope they do yours as well. Thank you for praying and caring. We have felt your prayers and heard your kind encouragement often these weeks. Please keep praying for Jod and Aun and the other children in their home. Grief continues and it will for a long time to come.
I will head back to Cambodia in just a couple of weeks and am planning to share more about that before I leave to ask for your prayer covering on several fronts. For now, I’m so grateful for your prayers, encouragement and gifts of support.