We had just met Pastor Wendy last week in Kampong Speu, just over an hour’s drive from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She passionately introduced the school and the work of the ministry to us. Later, we visited the teachers’ dormitory and finally, I had the privilege of praying for her. Yesterday, we were shocked to receive news that she had gone home to be with the Lord! They had found her body in her room, not knowing the cause of death. Last night, I was told that she had been robbed and killed 😦 This morning, the Straits Times carried the following report:
I don’t know Pastor Wendy very well. But in the brief time of meeting and knowing her, I could sense that this sister had a heart for the people of Cambodia, especially the children. Over the past ten years, she would make frequent trips to Cambodia – as many as 6 to 8 times a year, to oversee the running of the school, to train and equip the teachers there. No doubt, she (together with her husband, Pastor Paul – whom we had the privilege of meeting too) were faithful to the call of God upon their lives and were obedient to carrying out the mission entrusted to them.
And then suddenly, this dear sister is gone. Not even dying peacefully in her sleep, but robbed and killed?! Once again, there are just no answers to this plight, only more questions. Here was a faithful servant of God, on mission for Jesus. Why did she have to go in such a way? Was it a spiritual attack? Why did the Lord not send angels to protect her? Why could this not have been another one of those miraculous stories of supernatural rescue and encounter? Sadly, I have no answers at all 😦 And my heart goes out to her dear husband who possibly is struggling with even more tears and grief than questions.
This is really too odd for me. On the morning of our departure, Pastor Richard shared about the loss of his wife to cancer a year ago. It was sudden and really fast. They tried everything and prayed in every way. And yet, the Lord took her home. One year later, another faithful servant in Pastor Paul loses his equally faithful wife. How do you make any sense of this? Faithful and obedient men of God, losing their wives, in the course of duty.
Truly, we don’t know when we will be called home. We can claim and proclaim the promises of long life in the Bible but the truth is, there are exceptions. And let’s not be too quick and insensitive to pass any judgment on these that they had sin in their lives or a lack of faith in their walk with God. For sure, the Lord watches over us and protects His servants. But how do you explain the wound on Pastor Wendy’s head and the blood all over her floor? The desperate work of greedy or needy men, perhaps. But why were the missing items later found buried under a tree 200m away? Spiritual? Demonic? Too bizarre, if you ask me.
Maybe I’m getting older but it’s become even clearer to me that life is but a vapor (James 4:14). Each day is precious and we must live it to the fullest in service and devotion to the Lord, and to one another. I don’t know when my time is up, or when – shudder – my wife’s time is up. And yet, how easily we forget the brevity of life, distracted by the many demands and challenges we face each day. How easily we take one another for granted, thinking there is always another opportunity to love, to fellowship, to forgive, to make up, perhaps tomorrow, the day after, some day. The stark truth is, we don’t really know if there will be a tomorrow.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
I thank and praise God for faithful servants like Pastor Wendy. Regardless the challenges, and the dangers, she gave of herself to be a blessing to the people of Cambodia. May this seed that has died and fallen to the ground, for the sake of Jesus, bear tremendous fruit in the years to come. Because of Pastor Wendy’s life, and death, I believe Kampong Speu and Cambodia will be won for Jesus. Indeed, her life was lived to the fullest for Jesus. May this impact, remind and inspire me to do the same for my Lord and Master too.