Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 23, 2009

Nunca Mas

   Thirty years ago the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh was called S-21, or Security Office 21. Originally built as a school, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge took over the campus in 1975 and turned this place of learning into a place of unspeakable torture and death. Classrooms were subdivided into cells. Playground equipment was converted into instruments of torture. And, teachers were replaced by Pol Pot’s cadre whose pop quizzes were impossible to pass and were ultimately rewarded with various forms of torture.

   Today, the photos on display in the former classrooms of S-21 are of the thousands who were detained and tortured there. The graduation ceremony for S-21’s unfortunate alumni was held at the nearby killing fields. No caps and gowns, just a blindfold followed by a blunt blow to the back of the head and burial in a mass grave. It’s impossible to walk through S-21 without feeling a mixture of sorrow and anger. I was gripped by the same indignation I felt when I first visited this terrible place just one month ago.

Nunca Mas   As I walked up the steps to the second floor of Building B, I noticed something I had not seen on my first visit here last month. Sometime in the weeks between my visits, a Spanish-speaking visitor had scratched two words into the stairwell wall – Nunca Mas. These words simply mean “Never More” or “Never Again.” I paused and solemnly whispered, “Amen. May what happened at S-21 never happen again!” Today, S-21 stands as a testimony to the logical outcome of a worldview with an impoverished understanding of the sanctity of human life, a worldview that refused to acknowledge the existence of God.

   On Tuesday, our team met with over two-hundred pastors and church leaders for the first of three days of intensive training on the sanctity of human life and related issues. Team leader Kurt Dillinger addressed the sanctity of human life. Team member Matt Zainea addressed the topic of battling worldviews – Biblical versus Humanistic. I listened to these men speak — while images of S-21 and the Choeung Ek killing field were still fresh on my mind. I am convinced that a Biblical worldview is critical to the future of Cambodia. This country’s new killing fields are the dark places where babies are aborted and the hotel rooms where the innocence of young women dies every hour of the day. What will it take to scribe “Nunca Mas” on the walls of these places?

   Earlier today, Wednesday, I addressed the subject of Biblical Sexuality and Sexually Transmitted Infections. My new friend John Tabor spoke about pregnancy and reproduction. Tomorrow, we will address abortion, post-abortion issues, and forgiveness and healing. I am encouraged by the responses of the men and women in attendance. They have come from provinces throughout Cambodia. These men and women are committed to life and to working together to end the practices that harm the defenseless and exploit the weak and vulnerable. They are committed to working toward the day when the words “Nunca Mas” will be written across walls in places where the innocent and innocence dies every day.

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