BY SCOTT GRISWOLD
ASAP: Arti, you just came back from a three-week trip to Southeast Asia. Why did you decide to go over there?
ARTI HAMMAN: I just felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something special for people I had known there in the past. I called up Judy Aitken and she helped me with an itinerary.
ASAP: What is your connection with Southeast Asia?
ARTI HAMMAN: In 1992 I worked for AFM Refugee Projects with Judy Aitken and helped in the Site 2 and Kao I Dang refugee camps on the Thailand and Cambodian border.
ASAP: So what keeps taking you back there?
ARTI HAMMAN: Wherever people are, they are our brothers and sisters. God has given me a love especially for the Cambodians. I love to see the pastors that I worked with in the camps. I just feel it is God moving me to go back and care.
ASAP: So where did you visit?
ARTI HAMMAN: My main goal was to visit the schools, mostly the ones ASAP sponsors, the Cambodian and Vietnamese Feed and Read schools, the Takong project, and the Karen Adventist Academy in Thailand. I also stopped by ASAP’s Sda Center, the hospice place for those with AIDS. That really moved my heart. We prayed a lot. One student at KAA tracked me down to ask Bible questions. I found out he was planning to get baptized the very next Sabbath. The people were very kind. It shows me that wherever you go when you both have Jesus in your hearts, the barriers are broken down. Even if you can’t speak the same language, you feel really close because they are our Christian brothers and sisters. It’s kind of like meeting up with another Cubs fan, only it’s so much better. One young volunteer church worker I met was still carrying the pain and bitterness towards the people who killed his father during the war. I shared with him the pain I have gone through in my life. I told him, “You’ve got to get this bitterness out.” I just really felt the Holy Spirit urging me to tell him he would be bondage to his father’s murderers if he didn’t. Everyone, everywhere has something they are dealing with. We all need Jesus.
ASAP: What most impressed you?
ARTI HAMMAN: I was so impressed with the amount of work ASAP is doing. To see what God is doing in the schools and the faithfulness of the students is so inspiring! When you ask the kids, “What’s your favorite class?” And they say “Bible class,” it’s just wonderful.” I see the teachers working so hard, all day long. The children are learning order and discipline. They are learning love. The atmosphere in the schools was neither sad nor neutral. They were happy!
ASAP: How did God surprise you?
ARTI HAMMAN: I wasn’t planning to do any fundraising, but I felt the Holy Spirit encouraging me, “Why aren’t you?” And the money just came in. I was able to help the schools and some desperately poor people, including a student’s family who had no money to take the mother to the hospital.
ASAP: So now that you’re back, how do you think God may continue to use you to be a blessing?
ARTI HAMMAN: I want to do more short-term mission projects. I have a continued burden for the schools for our young people. They have the energy and rightly trained they will finish the work. When I was young I went to hundreds of Cubs games as a kid. All I wanted to be was a baseball coach. Now I want to be cheering for Jesus’ return more than anything else. Being in Southeast Asia was better than being in America when the Cubs won the World Series! If you serve God, you will never be the same.