March 29, 2011

March 29, 2011

Dear friends,

This past week we saw God provide for three of the young adult men in our ministry who recently took a stand for what is right. I will not give all the details but because of the stand that they took for the Lord and for Truth, they were thrown out of the place where they were living. This not only forced them to try and find an apartment that they could afford, but it also forced them to try and find a way to pay for the apartment. They are university students who have come from a village about an hour away and were living with family here in Phnom Penh for free for the past year or so. Jobs are VERY difficult to find here in Cambodia. Even when one does find a job opening and are offered a position, many times they are forced to pay a “fee” to the one who offered them the position in order to get the job. Here is the blessing – One of the young men who refused to follow the counsel of the ungodly (Proverbs 1:10)  was able to find a job in only one week. His job will not interfere with any of our service times. This is extremely rare because many jobs here are 6-7 days a week and leave virtually no extra time for anything outside of work. He was so encouraged to see how the Lord provided this employment for him. Furthermore, a small one room apartment became vacant directly across the street from our church and the owner agreed to rent it to these three young men at a price that they should be able to afford. This will hopefully give us even more influence into their lives. It is interesting that the family member who threw them out of the house, did so because they would not follow him. He really believed that they would become homeless, have no money to pay their bills, leave our ministry and influence, and return back to him. Looks like God got the victory once again. Please pray for Vannak, Chhay, and Man to continue to grow in their commitment to the Lord. They face many obstacles.

One of the tools we often use in helping new believers to grow is to make selected MP3/CD preaching available to them. In the States we take Christian media for granted. How many Christian songs do you have available to listen to? How easy is it for you to find a preaching MP3 or CD? If you are anything like me you likely have access to virtually any preaching you want. I just checked my external hard drive and see that over the past twenty years I have collected over 10,000 MP3 sermons and nearly 4,500 MP3 songs. Of course these are all in English. However, our Khmer speaking believers do not have access to these types of resources. 1) There are VERY FEW Khmer preachers who preach messages that would be doctrinally sound and worth listening to 2) There is a dearth of conservative Christian music in the Khmer language, 3) The majority of our believers can not afford to purchase a MP3 player and memory card in order to listen to the few resources that are available. Several months ago we began experimenting with using MP3 players as a tool to help these new Christians grow in the Word. We purchased some MP3 units that came complete with speakers and have been using them with three of our new families. The results have been very encouraging. These families are developing an appetite for preaching. Every few weeks I change the messages on the SD card. We have found that since the MP3 players we are using have speakers, they often turn up the preaching loud enough for others to hear as well. Lord willing, we intend to purchase 10 more MP3 units in the near future to expand. If you would like to be involved in helping to purchase a unit please let me know.

I want to share what happened with one of our new believers just last week. Theven has been saved for about a month now. Last week I loaned her an MP3 player that was loaded with 7 different sermons in Khmer. I strategically selected the messages and was somewhat concerned that a couple of the messages might be a bit hard for her to handle as a new believer but I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. To my surprise she not only listened to the messages but her 17 year old son and next door neighbor listened as well. She apparently turned up the volume loud enough for all the neighbors to hear. While she was listening to the preaching a local “witchdoctor” came to her house seeking to have a confrontation with her. The witchdoctor asked her this question, “Which has more power – your new faith or my occult power?” This question really shocked Theven. As a new believer she did not know how to respond. She simply said, “I have no idea which has more power. However, I have decided to follow Jesus and I no longer believe in you.” The witchdoctor said, “We will see…” That night the devil did make himself known to her in a very real way. I won’t go into details as I suspect that many Christians in America would likely think I am just making it up anyway. As a new believer she was confronted face-to-face with evil. She shared testimony during our Bible institute class last Wednesday evening that all she knew to do was to call out to God for His help. She shared how she grabbed the MP3 player and held it to her chest and prayed to God saying, “This truth is what I believe in! I no longer believe in the devil. Please protect me God.” Wow! After she shared the testimony with our other members I asked for a show of hands as to how many of them have had similar experiences. We had around twenty adults in the class that evening. Nearly every hand went up. Our own family has experienced similar attacks as has the Keo family. Thankfully we are given the promise that the devil is a pitiful defeated foe who, when resisted, must flee. (James 4:7) Whether you live in Asia or the States one thing is for sure – God has given us the victory! Are you living the type of a Christian life that causes the devil to challenge you?

Ministry in southeast Asia is not unlike ministry anywhere else in the world. We are living in a sin cursed world and dealing with people who have sin natures. There is often a temptation to get discouraged when it seems we take 10 steps forward and 9 steps back. Sometimes we seem to take 10 steps forward and 11 steps back. This past month we lost three families for various reasons. Two have moved back to their home provinces and another has moved due to their job situation. These are all individuals with whom Bro. Keo and myself have invested a lot of time and effort. We lost three young adult men who were pressured to leave us and go with “Demas.” Several of the adult prospects that we have been pursuing have seemed to come up with all sorts of excuses why they can not some to church or study with us. This past week the house next door to us was rented by a political group that is very controversial and has been known in the past to cause problems. Furthermore, this “nationalistic” party has as one of its stated objectives to try and bring about a resurgence in Buddhism here in Cambodia. I have been told that they look upon Christians with disdain. Some of our members seemed somewhat concerned this past Sunday and looked to me for some type of reaction. I must confess that, on a human level, it is disturbing to see them meeting just feet from our front door but when I did not seem too concerned then the members appeared to lose some of their concern. I was faking it but don’t tell them that! Pray that this group and the scores of political “dissidents” that seem to be coming and going from that property will leave us alone and that the enemy will not have occasion to further frustrate what God is doing here.

After the earthquake in northern Thailand last week rumors abounded in Cambodia that there would be an earthquake here as well. I am not sure if it was the soothsayers who predicted the supposed quake or what… Many were convinced that there would be a quake. Everyone was busy calling their friends warning them that at 8:00 p.m. the earthquake would hit and all the electricity in the city would be cut off… It got us to thinking about the way houses are built here in this city. Our particular neighborhood is built on top of a huge lake. I recently saw a map of what our area looked like prior to them building here. The lake was about five square blocks. Several years ago they began hauling dirt into the pond in order to make more land where they could build homes. Right behind us they are building a huge complex of apartments. It was a bit concerning to see a man digging the footing in the dirt and at around three feet – HE HIT WATER! I guess we can only hope if there is an earthquake in Phnom Penh that our house will float! It is interesting to see the workers build these huge buildings without modern equipment. They literally haul the cement one bucket at a time.

Please continue to pray for the salvation of the following adults whom we are trying to reach:

1) Sopheap (Sinath’s wife)
2) Narith & Nary (Mormon family)
3) Chenda  (mid 20s)
4) Sareth (early 60s)

Because of God’s grace,

Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason