Perpsective, Podcast

Journey With Me Through Cambodia

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[Left To Right] Jim Cavale, Lindsey Sillers (ITF Brentwood), Frank Adair (ITF Mountain Brook), Jessica Parks (ITF Corporate), Caleb Burchfield (ITF Vestavia), Wes & Anna Archer (ITF Belmont), Mark Whitehead (ITF 280) and Allen Rice (ITF Johns Creek).

I recently returned from a nine day Neverthirst trip to Cambodia, with an incredible team of coaches and athletes from multiple Iron Tribe markets.

For me, it was a chance to go to a new place I had never been, in a poverty-stricken nation that experiences life in a much different manner. It was also a chance for me to grow my faith, through a growing dependence on God in prayer, that is much harder to have here in America.

In the United Nations’ most recent Human Development rankings, Cambodia was 144th out of the 188 countries on the planet (U.S. was 8th).

When you go to a place like Cambodia, you immediately dismiss your desire for “wants” and you start to focus on simply meeting your “needs.” Our group agreed to take things a step further, by agreeing to a theme of “flexibility” for the entire trip, knowing that we weren’t there to be served, but to serve.

The team embraced this philosophy, as we prayed about it repetitively, talked about it in our devotionals each morning, and we ultimately maintained this attitude as a unit throughout our trip abroad in a new land.

Neverthirst did a phenomenal job of planning this trip; establishing context for our work in villages, as we visited the nearly 1,000-year-old Angkor Temples near Siem Reap, and the Killing Fields in capital city Phnom Penh, where the Pol Pot Regime killed more than two million Cambodians in a genocide from 1975 to 1979.

These experiences set the stage for what we saw in the villages we visited and lived in for several days of the trip. It helped us understand the history of the Buddhist religion in Cambodia and the effects of the Pol Pot Regime, which killed the majority of the nation’s educated people in an attempt to force the country to “start back at zero,” just less than 40 years ago.

To quote a book I’m reading right now about Cambodia [Cambodia’s Curse], “you stand in these villages and look around knowing that these villages look exactly the same today, as they did 350 years ago!”

Neverthirst has united with multiple partners in Cambodia, to bring villages clean water through three delivery mechanisms; water wells, biosand filters and rain tanks, depending on multiple factors which determine the best option.

The work we were a small part of, with Neverthirst’s partners for each of these three clean water delivery mechanisms, allowed us to truly connect what you and I get to do with our annual Workout For Water event each year, to the exact latitude and longitude it affects on the other side of the world. It was powerful.

And to actually have our hands touch each of these three clean water delivery mechanisms, by helping to build and install them in these villages – that was more than powerful. It could even be eternal.Because we got to share our faith with so many who have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ, let alone the Good News that He came to save everyone, including them.

We stayed in areas all over the country, including the Vietnam border, where of course, I had to watchApocalypse Now on my laptop before bed. The overall experience I had on this trip, is one I’ll never forget and surely try to repeat in Cambodia or another area of the world in 2017.

But when we debriefed as a team, we were asked to each answer two questions;

“What was your most impactful moment?”

My most impactful moment was when I was working with a group to install a biosand filter for a specific family in one of the villages we visited. While we were installing the filter, the family was living life as they normally would, by using the dirty pond behind their home [a tree house on stilts] for multiple purposes.

As we were putting the finishing touches on the biosand filter, a little boy who is maybe a couple years older than my son James (2), was just getting home from school and decided to go back to the pond with a pan, to get himself a drink of dirty brown water. After all, it was more than 100 degrees temperature at the time. He drank it right in front of me, instead of just waiting a few more minutes as we finished installing the filter that will now bring him and his family clean water for at least the next decade.

This really put things into perspective for me. There were many similar experiences on the trip, but I’ll never forget this one.

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My son James IV drinking from a water source at Spain Park [to the left], while this young boy in Cambodia, drinks from a pan he dipped in a brown pond [to the right].

“What are you going to do about it?”

For me, this is a twofold answer. I have been on the board of a ministry here in Birmingham, called The Aspire Movement (, for a couple years now, since we launched it at the end of 2014 – we pair adult men from the church, with fatherless children from Birmingham city schools, for a long-term mentorship commitment.

I mentor a young boy, Mekhi, who has become a big part of my family with my wife and three children. I’ve committed to mentor Mekhi through graduation from high school – he is in fourth grade. That’s how our program at Aspire works.

This trip fired me up for the work that is possible with initiatives like Aspire and other local ministries that give us a chance to make an impact here in America. If I go abroad on a trip like this one to Cambodia, for maybe 1-2 weeks a year, I’ve got to challenge myself on what I’m going to do to make an impact the other 50 or so weeks that remain each year.

However, the second part to my answer to this question “What are you going to do about it?”, is that I’m going to tell everyone I can about my trip and about the upcoming Workout For Water on May 14th at Oak Mountain State Park.

After seeing and humbly putting my hands in on the work that is being done, because of the dollars we raise each year at Workout For Water, the event means that much more to me. It is my hope, that reading about my trip, it means that much more to you! You have helped us do something that is truly changing the lives of people on the other side of the world right now and potentially, forever and ever in Heaven. Amen.

Set up your giving profile at, share it on your social media channels so that your friends can join in on the giving process, and of course, attend the event on May 14th.

Our goal is to raise $400,000 in Birmingham this year, with half of that coming from a matching fund of $200,000 that we have already privately raised. This means that every time you give, or you help somebody from your network give, your giving will be doubled instantly.

So get ready and mark your calendar for May 14th at Oak Mountain State Park, setup your giving profile at, and start spreading The Good News!

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The most refreshing water I’ve ever touched. This is a water pump provided by Charleston, SC’s Iron Tribe Mount Pleasant gym, owned by Corky Alexander.

You can listen to Jim’s entire journey through Cambodia with the Iron Tribe team and Neverthirst ministries, on the newest edition of the TribeCast podcast. Press Play Below.


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