BY BREN JOURNEY - Legacy of hope international
In May of 2017, 26 cyclists and fifteen support staff rode and served through PA, MD, VA, and WV on behalf of the youth in Cambodia and Legacy of Hope International (LOHI). LOHI was founded in 2005 on the belief that all people are created to love, serve, and bring hope to one another. The mission is to assist with community economic development through education and public health initiatives. It is here that our vision of thriving communities experiencing life-empowering education, health, and hope for the future becomes a reality.
The money raised during the 2017 Mid Atlantic Bike Ride - #MABR2017 - went to support 38 dormers/youth that were most at risk of being trafficked and have little to no access to education in their villages. The funds provided basic upkeep, improvements to the dorms, hygiene needs, medical clinics, public health prevention clinics and education, school supplies, discipleship classes and supplies, food, and a love offering for our full-time missionary, Rizza.
My name is Bren Journey and I am the CEO of Legacy of Hope International (LOHI). In my most recent trip to Cambodia, I had the honor of residing with the dormers for a few days. The trip was short and quite a whirlwind. I have had the pleasure to serve in Cambodia in different capacities since 2006. It is an honor now to encourage, assist in developing programs, and much more.
This trip gave me the opportunity to meet a brave and gentle teen. One early morning after Director Sam and Missionary Rizza (Dorm Director and Preschool Principal) had prepared rice over a hot fire pit…I met with Sophia (not her real name). She was quiet and had a sweet smile, she laughed if I asked her a question. We would see each other in passing and then again when I taught class on purity with the dorm ladies. I would never imagine her story and what God had done through her and LOHI…
Sophia was born to a mother with a serious mental illness. She was abandoned by her mother in a rice field, where her father and relatives found her crying due to lack of nutrients. Sophia’s father tried to find other mothers in the area that could help feed his baby girl. However, due to their poverty these mothers would charge a fee that Sophia’s father could not afford. Soon one of Sophia’s aunts would have a child and would be able to help feed her.
Sophia’s mother like many survivors of the Khmer Rouge Genocide struggled with severe mental health issues. Her mother was found much later, only to return and not know anyone in her family. Sophia’s mother was unable to take care of herself, the family, and often was a danger to others. In Cambodia due to the lack of mental health workers, illnesses like Sophia’s mother are untreated or treated with strong medication and chained to their homes.
Sophia clearly remembers around the age of eight when her mother received Jesus Christ as Savior of her life. This was a joyful time. However, after her mother had two more children she became irrational and violent. Sophia’s mother attempted to throw one of the babies out of the house, thankfully her dad was there to stop her. Sophia’s father worked tirelessly and traveled daily to get her mother very expensive medicine. Finally, her father and mother left for a hospital far from home. Sophia, and her three siblings were left alone. Due to their financial needs Sophia’s eldest sibling quit school.
Sophia’s parents returned some years later and around the age of fourteen or fifteen her parents divorced. Sophia lived with her mother and was expected to stop going to school and take care of her family. Sophia at some point met a Christian girl that encouraged her to go to church. This friend was also a dormer at LOHI. This fellow youth was able to share the love and hope of Jesus because of the protection and education she was receiving at LOHI.
Today, Sophia is thrilled that she gets to go to church every Sunday and has a relationship with Jesus, God her Savior!
“Since I have Jesus in my life, my life has changed. He is a blessing to me to have a good place to stay until I graduate from high school and I can continue to university. God gives me love and care even if I have difficulties. I am so blessed. I am, especially thankful to God that I met Pastor Sam. He cares for me, he loves, and he supports me as one of his own daughters. I have even seen where my mother is stronger and God is helping her to take her medicine everyday. My mother has hope. He blesses me and my family to live in happiness and joy!” Thank you! -Sophia
Because of you, Sophia, many other youth, and families have hope and a future. Please keep her and all 38 (girls and boys) in your prayers. Rescued. Restored. Renewed, because of LOVE.
I John 4:8 God is love.