Josh j Smith

May 30, 2008, 1:33 pm
Filed under: religion


It just occurred to me as I was sitting listening to my friend John Song, that story brings us together. This epiphany started last night when I sat down for a chocolate chip cookie and a mocha latte in a coffee house called common grounds.  I was quick to open my laptop to get online and my friends demanded my attention because the manager at the shop had visited Washington D.C.  I guess the conversation started because two out of four of us are noticeably white and we all spoke english in. 


This small conversation led us to talk about the coffee shop and its desire to be a positive influence in Cambodia.  Minutes later we were talking with the misionaries who started the coffee shop and learned about the english classes, computer classes, orphanage, tutuoring, and the fact they employ 21 Cambodians at the shop.    


The irony of this occurrence is that it is exactly what my friend John Song is trying to do in Cambodia.  It is called business as mission.    


John Song’s story starts three years ago for me.  I met him and thought that he was extremely angry.  Three years later, now, I realized I am not angry enough.  


John moved to the Philly area to go seminary at Biblical with the hopes of moving back to Utah to plant a church with some people he met from Seminary. It did not take long for him to realize that God had started to shape our stories in the opposite direction of Utah.  In the course of those years our seminary cohort experienced a lot changes.  For John and his family, they realized God was calling him to Cambodia and not Utah.  


Tonight we all sat on the roof top of our hotel sweating and leaning in to hear John’s voice over top the hundreds of motor scooters crawling through streets below us.  John told us about the corruption, the unjust history, and the need for Cambodian people to experience redemption.  Redemption not just through a “saving knowledge” but through the gospel of Jesus that reaches out to heal people.  Redemption that touches the sick, carries the cripple, feeds the hungry, empowers the powerless.  Redemption that provides jobs at fair wages, eliminates corruption, and educates people so that selling a child into prostitution is not an option.  


That is when it occurred to me.  My story is not mine.  It is John’s, yours, and everyone else’s.  I thought about the story of common grounds, John’s journey to seminary for the hope of making a couple friends, and the fact that all 39 of us were sitting there listening to his story, which is my story… our story. 



May 28, 2008, 3:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Its like doing a dance,” said my friend Dave referring to the traffic habits of Cambodia.  At first I was completely taken back by the mass confusion of hundreds a mopeds criss-crossing in front, behind, and next to our van traveling along the road.  It is shocking at first because I am used to american ways of driving, get there as fast as I can at the expense of everyone else.  


There is a fundamental difference here. Every driver trusts the other person.  When I was sixteen my dad taught to drive defensively because it wasn’t me that he did not trust, it was the other drivers.  In cambodia you can pull out in the middle of traffic, switch lanes, and even cross a buys street and trust that people will go around or stop.  


It really is like doing a dance.  I dont know much about dancing, which is enough to know that when I try to dance with Gina, my wife, there more discension than harmony because I don’t know enough to decide whether to swoop when she dips, step when she stops, or slide when she hops.  


That being said, if someone, like myself, came in and saw that the raffic was horrible because it was not organized, they would bring more harm than good trying to structure something that is already organically structured.  Grant it, you cannot go 70 mph, but I have not seen a car accident yet, and there are far more vehicles and “disorganization” than american road systems.  


While I am on the subject of organic growth.  I have seen it in other forms of Cambodian culture besides the traffic.  One of the coolest things I saw today was the Olympic stadium.  It was left open for everyone to come play sports, walk, and do aerobics.  They had a pool, track, soccer fields (in the parking lot), etc.  As we made our way through the parking lot we noticed the intensity and talent of the games to lessen in the direction we walked.  The more talented players seemed to have the bigger areas to play, and lesser the smaller areas.  There was no tournament administrator, no scoreboards, no chalked lines, and no cooperate sponsoring – which means no money.  


In addition, to the soccer.  Around the sop of the stadium, as the sun would settle, people would come and set up big speakers and play music.  Within minutes there would be someone leading an aerobics workout session.  Again no companies, no sign-ups, no fees – no money.  Several of these little aerobic classes would set up around the entire stadium. There are hundreds of people exercising together to different types of music, and different styles of exercise.  It was beautiful.  


Cambodia is developing very fast.  On the surface this seems good.  But my friend John Song who has been ministering here for a couple years, says that rich companies and people are buying property developing it and selling it to make a quick buck and leave.  Most of the tie it is foreign investors.  The problem is that the investors motivation is not the people and the Cambodian economy, it is their own wealth.  So while Pnom Pehn seems to be developing well, a huge gap between the rich and poor is emerging.