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Don’t worry. It’s okay.

Posted in: Living Water by Kristin Jackson on February 3, 2012

Pastor Samrach preaching. photo credit: Tim Nafziger

“Don’t worry. It’s okay.”

These are the words that I most associate with my colleague, Pastor Samrach Nuth. I’ve lost count of the times he’s said this after I’ve brought up some issue that troubled me.

“We are the sons and daughters of the Living God,” he added yesterday, by way of explanation. Other times, he’s followed his usual “Don’t worry. It’s okay” with an assurance that God has called him to be a leader in this church, and whatever God wants him to do, he will do, humbly. Or he reminds me not to worry because when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it changes us. Not only on the outside, but on the inside, too.

When Samrach told me his story, I realized that his deep confidence that all will be well has been hard earned. Born in a rural Cambodian village, he moved to Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, in the 1970’s as a young adult. Like most Cambodians of his generation, he was drafted into military service, and so he worked by day as the receptionist for a general in the Cambodian army. By night, Samrach worked in his brother’s jewelry store, where he learned the trade of a jeweler.

When the communists took over Cambodia, Pastor Samrach was forced to move to a rural area and work on a farm. He was moved around from one farm to another for several years. When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia on January 7, 1979—a date Pastor Samrach rattled off, unprompted, with the quick recall of something seared unforgettably in his mind–he had to walk from where he’d been farming back to his home village, entirely on foot. It took him over a month.

Samrach stopped talking at this point in his story, shook his head, and looked down into his lap. So I don’t exactly know what happened to him next, or what he saw when he finally reached home.

But I do know this: twenty-eight members of Samrach’s family, including six brothers and sisters, were killed by the Khmer Rouge Army.

Samrach was not yet a Christian then. Like most Cambodians, he grew up Buddhist. But he has told me many times that after he became a Christian, he learned to forgive Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. “When I became a Christian, I didn’t hold that against them,” he says.

He’s told me he’s forgiven the Khmer Rouge so many times because I keep asking about it. Even as a follower of Jesus, it’s difficult to imagine how someone could have the grace to forgive such unspeakable crimes.  But over many tellings, I’ve come to trust that when Pastor Samrach says, “Don’t worry, it’s okay,” he is drawing on decades of grace and forgiveness that run deep and true.  Samrach’s story reassures me that God’s faithfulness is sufficient, whatever we may encounter.

Son te pheap (Peace be with you),

Pastor Kristin

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There Are So Many Things I Love About You

Posted in: Community by Kristin Jackson on January 23, 2012

Called to the corner.Welcome to Living Water’s new blog, a space devoted to sharing our life together and learning more about what it means to faithfully follow Jesus on the corner of Pratt and Ashland.

To kick off our first blog post, here are some of my favorite reflections on our life together. Living Water, there are so many things I love about you:

  • Receiving not just “May the peace of Christ be with you” but also “son te pheap”, “amahoro imana”, “Crist timee ma rahos” and “la paz de Cristo” every week. (That’s how we pass the peace in English, Khmer, Kirundi, Nepali, and Spanish.)
  • Baptisms in Lake Michigan. Beautiful summer day ones, with beach picnics and Frisbee games stretching endlessly into the afternoon, and chilly fall ones, when the wind whips up and the baptized and the baptizers are especially brave.
  • Setting up for worship on Sunday mornings while listening to the music group fine tune the worship set. Sensing the prayers of those who have gathered early in the prayer room. Appreciating the people running around setting up sound equipment, projectors, communion bread and decorations. It’s like a party just before the guests arrive.
  • The happy chatter of the children and their tutors as they enter the building for the after school program and head down the hall to do homework or write stories or bake cookies or conduct science experiments.
  • Greeting other LWCC-ers when we happen upon each other while out and about in the neighborhood.
  • Attempting to sing Swahili along with the African choir.
  • Attempting to clap in rhythm with the African choir.
  • Attempting to clap in rhythm with anything.
  • Cambodian eggrolls.
  • That there are kids in our neighborhood who call our church “Potluck” because of the meals they’ve eaten with us.
  • The dancing: Advent candle dances, Nepali Christmas dances, Cambodian Rice Harvest, Easter dances, and congregational line dances that snake through the aisles.
  • Passing moving boxes through a long line of people up someone’s back stairwell and into their apartment. Many people helping a neighbor together is joyful work.
  • Keeping vigil on the sidewalk with our neighbors when tragedy strikes.
  • Studying the bible and praying over mugs of coffee around someone’s dining room table.
  • Helping people select rescued produce to take home on Thursday afternoons, knowing lots of our neighbors will be enjoying delicious meals because of this ministry.
  • Meeting with a Discernment Group to hear someone’s story: job opportunities, possible moves, potential marriages, painful family situations, relationships needing reconciliation. Seeking the Spirit’s wisdom together.
  • Praying together in a symphony of languages, most of which I do not understand, and learning to trust that God is making sense of us all.

We look forward to using this space to share news and reflections on the life in our community. What are your favorite reflections? Comment below!

Thank you, all of you who are Living Water. It is a joy to serve you!

Pastor Kristin

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