"The Need Is So Vast..." journal entry from May 31, 2001

I’ve been reading through my old journals. This entry was from the very last day of my very first trip to Cambodia, before Asia’s Hope existed. This was the trip that broke my heart and set me on a path that would eventually lead me here, overseeing a ministry caring for 800+ orphaned kids at 34 homes in Cambodia, Thailand and India…

Me, visiting the state-run Kien Klaing Orphanage in Phnom Penh, circa 2002

Me, visiting the state-run Kien Klaing Orphanage in Phnom Penh, circa 2002

May 31, 2001

The Paradise Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I thought I had seen enough to make me immune to the sorrows of the street, but as I walked to breakfast, I had to step over the body of a five or six year old boy sleeping on the sidewalk. He was beautiful but filthy — his clothes were literally rags. He looked like a tiny mannequin, a prop from some war movie. He hadn't had a bath in days, weeks, maybe months — probably longer since his last hug.

I wanted to pick him up, cradle him, give him decent meal. But I didn't dare wake him and steal his last moments of peace before he woke to his daily nightmare of begging for a scrap of food or a few hundred riel.

I could feed this boy for a day with the change hidden in my sofa cushions. But then there'd be thousands of others. How could I help them all? The need is so vast and my resources are so limited.

This place is raw. It's very difficult to come here if you have a heart for orphans and the poor. Only God can heal Cambodia. Every day I see children Pak's age: half-naked, clinging to their mothers. Invariably, the mother's eyes are empty and sad, knowing that she may not be able to provide her baby's next meal, and that she will almost certainly go to bed hungry herself.

John McCollumComment