Hope Shines in Some of the Darkest Places
Deep poverty. Epidemic addiction. Violence. Broken families. These are daily realities for a quarter-million people who live in the urban slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. And God loves every one of them.
These slums are impoverished squatter communities cobbled together on parcels of land no one else wants or can build on, such as along railroad tracks or on flood-prone riverbanks.
Residents ignore building codes and lack sanitation and safe water. Jobs and educational opportunities are scarce, but crime, addiction and abuse run rampant. Children and vulnerable adults are commodities used in the struggle of survival. Spiritual darkness reigns.
Extreme Love Ministries defeats this darkness by bringing Jesus’ kingdom into these places. We do this through lighthouses, which help us transform lives through His love.
Lighthouses, beacons of God’s love
Lighthouses are living spaces our team rents within poor and vulnerable slum communities. Most are single-room shacks, like other slum dwellings. They provide space in which we can lead Bible studies, conduct children’s outreaches, distribute food, and more. They become known as safe places in the community. This helps us build strong and lasting relationships with many who live there. We become their neighbors, their friends, and their mentors, gently discipling them to know Jesus.
Lighthouses provide the following:
Outreach to Children
Children living in slums are at great risk. We try to protect them from trafficking, abuse and exploitation by:
- Teaching them (and parents) to be aware of the dangers of trafficking and exploitation;
- Discipling them by teaching about the God of the Bible, and the truth about their identity and value;
- Providing counseling and therapy that helps them heal from emotional trauma, and helps us assess their needs;
- Being the eyes and ears within the community so we can act to protect children and vulnerable adults;
- Rescuing them from abusive situations; and
- Placing those rescued into safe homes appropriate to their needs so they can receive restorative care.
Outreach to Women
Many women who live in slum communities turn to prostitution in a desperate effort to support themselves and their families. They often lack education and job skills. These women need help breaking free from the poverty and hopelessness that pressured them to make that vocational choice.
Through relationships we build through lighthouses, we are able to select candidates we can train for better jobs. For those with business aptitude, we set them up with their own micro-business. We know that deep and lasting transformation only comes through relationship with Jesus, so we also disciple women. This helps them to find the dignity and value that gives them true freedom.
Outreach to Families
The breakdown of family relationships and values has amplified vulnerability in Cambodian communities. Parents, spouses, and children need to learn how to grow and function as a unit. We must address poverty (a primary reason why parents choose to sell their children) through economic empowerment. Families need education and ways to better themselves and their communities. Communities need job training programs, help starting micro-businesses, and food security.
Lighthouses enable us to teach about family development, life skills, biblical values and other vital topics. This knowledge helps protect communities from traffickers and other exploiters.
We are seeing individuals, families and whole communities transformed through lighthouse ministry. Let your light shine by becoming a partner in this amazing work that God is doing. You can help change communities too – from the inside out!