Pictures Say A Thousand Words


Look carefully at the picture below.

Young Man at S21

The first thing you’ll note is the dark black blood stains that are on the print. They alone tell a terrible story of fear and mayhem for this young Cambodian man living–and dying–in the late 1970s. But the second thing you’ll note about this man is the placement of his identity badge, the one that declares “86”. Do you see the safety pin that is anything but safe? It has been stuck right into this young man’s neck.

I wish you could have seen the horrible expressions on our faces when our tour guide at the infamous S21 death camp in Phnom Penh pointed this particular detail out to us. We had not noticed the safety pin at first glance. When we did, we all nearly got sick.

Sadly, however, the safety pin is just the threshold to a nightmarish world of torture for the thousands that were rounded up by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge henchmen and escorted to Security Camp 21. While inside they were ordered to reveal the names of anyone who might be a stumbling block to Pol Pot’s sick socialist utopia that he was designing. When names were given, those folk were promptly rounded up and tortured and murdered. If names were not given, then those being interrogated were tortured until either they were nearly dead, at which case they were executed, or until they finally gave in with whatever information, whether true or not, might buy them a reprieve. It never worked. They were executed too. Thus you have the infamous “Killing Fields” of Cambodia.

How in the world people could do this stuff to one another is beyond my comprehension, except, of course, that the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). When looking at the thousands of black and white photographs lining the blood stained walls of S21, photographs like the one above, it is easy to feel intense despair.

But it helps to consider another photograph. See the one below.

Young Mother at Tevang Village

This is the same country, thirty years later. But unlike the young man with the safety pin this young mother is enjoying the safety of Christ’s love at a small medical clinic in the northeastern Cambodian village of Tevang. She and her child have just received wonderful medical care from a precious medical doctor named Cari Sikkink of Bethel Church. The black and white photograph above reveals the blackness of the human heart. The color photograph with the young mother demonstrates the joy and freedom found when one is enjoying the light of Christ Jesus and His love. The expressions on the faces alone tell the whole story.

When returning from Cambodia a couple of weeks ago the team of which I was a part discovered that we had taken hundreds if not thousands of photographs. Not all were pretty. There were some lonely and wounded people that we saw. But the young mother with her child pictured above was rather typical, and a wonderful contrast to the hopelessness revealed in the face of the man we only know as Number 86. It is amazing the impact that the love of Jesus Christ can make.

What does your face reveal?

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