February 14, 2011

February 14, 2010

Dear friends,

It has been good to hear from some of you. Thank you for your faithful prayer and communication with us. We know that the work that God is doing here is done in part due to the fervent prayers of His people. We are encouraged by your friendship.

KEO FAMILY: Many have asked about the status of baby Sophea Keo. At this point she remains in the “neo-natal intensive care unit” of the Calemette Hospital here in Phnom Penh. Her situation appears to be stable. She is currently 2.4 pounds and remains inside an incubator. Beginning today the doctor is allowing Mrs. Keo to hold the baby for 2 hours each day. Please continue to pray that the Keos would have wisdom and strength as they make decisions regarding her care. During a Bible study this past week one of our new believers made the comment that the Keos are a very good example of how a Christian should face trials. Brother Keo’s mother has made what appears to be a slight improvement in her recovery from her stroke. She has the ability to slightly grip with her left hand and is able to walk across the room with support.

Narith and Srey Poeuv are Brother Keo’s relatives and they have been to several church services. They have not made a profession of faith as of yet but last night they seemed to really pay attention to the preaching. Since church services are geared toward believers it is difficult for non-believers to really understand the principles that are being preached since their minds are blinded by the enemy. Pray that Brother Keo and other workers will have the wisdom to deal with these two young adults and that they will be saved very soon.

I am currently preaching a series on Sunday evenings dealing with the Christian and his relationships to others. Last night the messaged focused on God’s command to fathers not to provoke their children to wrath. Biblical principles of parenting are virtually unheard of here in this culture even among the vast majority of professing Christians. Last night I focused on four ways we can provoke our children to wrath: 1) When we are unwilling to admit our mistakes to our children, 2) When we discipline our children out of anger, 3) When we fail to unconditionally accept our children, 4) When we compare one child with another child. All four of these points seem basic to anyone who knows God’s Word but to our new believers these are all totally new concepts. All four of these points hit hard against the style of parenting in this country. The entire church was very interested to see how a Christian parent is to discipline their children. Last night I borrowed Brother Keo’s 8 year old son, Andrew, and modeled how a father is to spank a disobedient child. It turned out to be a rather comical illustration. I specifically focused on the consequences of disciplining a child out of wrath vs. out of love.

Last night Vandy brought 4 visitors to the evening service. She has been witnessing to them for several weeks but they are still not willing to accept Christ. She was so excited that they were finally willing to at least visit a church service. None of them had ever been to a Christian church and at first they seemed to be very uncomfortable. It was not until sometime during the middle of the message that they appeared to relax and allow the preaching to speak to their heart. During the message I sort of “chased a rabbit” when I spent a few minutes warning the single ladies of the dangers of marrying a young man who is unnaturally concerned about his clothing, hair, and standing in front of the mirror admiring how handsome he is. You would have to actually live here to understand just how effeminacy has destroyed the younger generation of males in this country.  I watched Vandy’s visitors elbow each other and laugh with the church as I demonstrated how a pretty-boy husband will have difficulty actually providing leadership and financial care for his family. From that point on they seemed to be engaged in the service and listened intently to the truths that were presented. You never know what God will use to work in the heart of the lost. Please pray that Peouv, Bora, Ala, and Aly will come to know the Lord.

Kyna continues to take a stand for the Lord. It is encouraging to see her hunger for the Lord and her desire to honor Him with her life. Since her salvation she has taken serious persecution from her unsaved roommates but she remains strong for the Lord. I believe that through the ridicule she has clearly seen that there is nothing alluring in the world. For her the line has been clearly drawn. This past Saturday we went to go meet her family back in the village. It was a blessing to hear her Buddhist mother and father tell me that she has already informed them that she is a Christian and that she will not compromise in her stand for the Lord. So many young adult ladies in Cambodia are prevented by their parents from fully surrendering to the Lord and so we are particularly thankful to hear Kyna’s mother tell us that they will not try to stand in her way and prevent her from following her faith. Her mother said, “From the time she was young we did our best to teach her to follow our religion of Buddhism. Now she is an adult and she has a freewill to decide what she wants to believe.” Please pray that God will continue to work in Kyna’s life and that she will remain teachable so that God can use her to bring Him glory.

This past week we had occasion to take 10 of our folks and travel nearly 2 hours one-way to a Muslim village in order to hold a Bible study. We only expected to have 5 or so people attend the study. We were very surprised to arrive and see nearly 30 people assembled waiting for us to teach them what Christians believe. It would seem that several adults, in particular, are seriously interested in the Gospel because of the faithful example of their young adult sons who have recently been saved. For two hours I took the older adults and taught them the Gospel while one of our other men took all of the young adults and taught them. There were two young adults who made professions of faith during the study. Please pray for Ly, Ya, and Chhay to continue to be a good testimony in their village. Before they were saved they were apparently known as the village trouble makers. Their reputation was widely known. Now that they are Christians they have a new heart that desires to do right. Over and over their parents thanked us for “changing” their sons. Of course we told them that it is God Who is changing them. It is so vitally important that these three young men, as well as others from the same village, continue to guard their testimony. I believe it is possible that we will see several more older adults accept Christ in the near future and the devil would desire to see them compromise and bring reproach to the name of Christ. This past week one of our young men told me, “Pastor, God is working in my village. There are now 3-4 entire families who are talking among themselves and weighing the cost of accepting Christ. If they get saved there are going to be problems in my village with the Muslim leaders.” Pray that God will provide wisdom and protection for our workers who are seeking to win these folks to Christ.

CULTURE LESSON: America is viewed as a Christian nation by the average Cambodian Buddhist and Cham Muslim. I could write an entire volume on this topic. This is one of the barriers that we face when seeking to win the Muslim to the Lord in this country. They look at the decadency of the west and wrongly believe that the lack of morality stems from America’s “christian” religion. They assume that the Christian God apparently endorses abortion, war, sexual promiscuity, and deviant lifestyles that are contrary to nature itself. I once had an unsaved woman here ask me why the Christian God allows His daughters to dress so provocatively. Although Islam has its own faults, the Cham people have been told that if they allow Christianity into the village it will destroy their family. This lie is propagated in Buddhist villages as well. Just last week it was reported by one of our members that a village chief rode through the village broadcasting the message over loudspeaker that if anyone in the village embraced the Christian “religion” they would immediately be driven from the village. While that proclamation is contrary to the written law of this country, it still reflects the sentiments of some. Many Cham parents are desperately attempting to hold onto their children. Certain aspects of the Muslim religion are strictly forced upon the younger generation in order to protect the outward appearance of moral chastity. Yet one would be hard-up to find a Cham young person who truly believes the religion. The very few young adults who go to the Mosque, apparently only go in order to appease their parents. Many young people in their early 20s have stopped attending the Mosque altogether. The new religion of the younger Cham generation is money, education, and fun. This is why the testimony of these three young men is so powerful in this village. On one hand they are viewed as traitors to their culture and religion – On the other hand everyone marvels at the change that has taken place in their hearts since converting to this “deviant religion from America.”

Many Cambodians are seriously concerned about the conflict that is currently taking place on the northwest border of Cambodia and Thailand. There has been an ongoing dispute between the two countries over the ownership rights of land and, in particular, a Hindu Shiva temple that dates back over a thousand years. Many seem to believe that it is likely war will breakout. For several days there have been rockets fired back and forth and it seems like the situation may escalate. We don’t know the full ramifications were that to happen but they can not be good. Tempers seem to be flaring on both sides and rumors are abundant. Pray that sound reasoning will prevail and that there will be a peaceful resolution to this conflict. These photos were taken by a news organization and show the temple site that is the subject of this conflict.

Because of God’s grace,

Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason