Cook with Love!

Valentines Day is around the corner, and it’s easy to get caught up in the expectations that sometimes surround the holiday. With flowers to buy and cards to sign and dinner reservations to make, the true meaning of love can get lost in the shuffle of our culture’s commercialism. The Bible defines love differently:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7

Sometimes love doesn’t announce itself at the front door; it slips in quietly through the back, revealing itself through acts of service to others. This Valentine’s Day, why not prepare a home-cooked meal for the one you love? CGI can even help you find the perfect recipe! There are dozens of amazing dishes in the pages of The Green Mango Café Cookbook, compiled from many of the recipes used at CGI’s Culinary Training Center in Battambang, Cambodia.

Why not treat your spouse or family to homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, pan-fried fish with ginger and miso for dinner, or lemongrass-coconut bars for a sweet dessert? All these recipes (and a whole lot more!) can be found in the cookbook.

And the best part of all? All proceeds from cookbook sales go straight to funding CGI’s programs for at-risk women in Cambodia, so the love can be felt all the way on the other side of the world!

You can purchase a hard copy or digital version here:

When Evil Prevails. . .

DSC_0419“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

I first heard this quote when teaching the play, The Diary of Anne Frank, to eighth graders at Greenwood Middle School. Nineteenth century British statesman Edmund Burke’s observation certainly applied to Hitler’s regime and the Holocaust of the 30’s and 40’s.

This same idea of doing nothing haunts me now when I think about human trafficking. In the areas where CGI works, it is very common for families, mothers and fathers to traffick their daughters in order to put food on the table. As CGI president and founder Chris Alexander often notes, “Most of the world is just one crisis away from making a bad decision.”

The above photo was taken outside a Beer Garden/Karaoke Bar in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Though these girls seem “of age”, CGI has seen girls as young as 5-years-old being exploited for sex.

The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking (UN-GIFT) estimates that 2.5 million people worldwide are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) with 56% happening in Asian and Pacific countries.

Meet the victims:

• The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age.

• An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.

• 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries).

• 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, with 98 per cent women and girls.

• 32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, of whom 56 per cent are women and girls.

• Many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education

Let’s not be guilty of walking by the problem and looking the other way.

By Joyce Long / photo: Jocelyn Post

For Just One


While in Cambodia, I was reminded of the impact this country and its people can have on you. There is such great need everywhere you look. The needs can be overwhelming.  However, I have to constantly remind myself that while we can’t help everyone, we can help some. So we do.

There’s a story told of a boy who is walking along a beach where thousands of starfish have washed up and are dying. The boy is picking up starfish and throwing them back in the ocean to save their lives. Someone comes to the boy and questions why he is even trying, he can’t come close to making a difference and saving all the starfish. The boy picks up a starfish and says, “I’m making a huge difference for this one” and he throws the starfish back in the ocean.

That story is most often told to show the impact of making a difference for just one life. But I think a better application for that story may be to ask – why are more people not out on that beach helping the boy to throw the starfish back in the ocean?

I’ve been wrestling with God a bit. . . He has been asking me what I am clinging to that is preventing me from fully giving myself to Him. What am I clinging to that is preventing me from being on that beach and fully devoting myself to throwing back those starfish?  Philippians 2:6 tells me that Jesus did not cling to His equality with God but rather emptied himself and became a servant of all. I’m confident that the things I’m clinging to (pride, comfort, fear, etc.) pale in comparison to equality with God. Yet why do I seem cling so tightly?!?

I know I need to be on that beach fully engaged in ‘throwing back those starfish’ that God has called me to serve. How about you?

by Nathan Cecil, written January 2012

photo by Alex Overhiser, March 2012