August 31, 2011
The outreach to the Cham village continues to go forward. It appears as though God’s hand of blessing is upon the efforts there. This past Monday there were 60 folks who gathered in the village to sing and listen to the preaching. We are happy to report that in the past two weeks there were two Cham adults and seven Cham children who made professions of faith. One of the adults who received forgiveness for her sins is Mas. She is the grandmother of some of our faithful young adult men. It has been amazing to see the immediate changes that have taken place in her life once she was saved. For the past several months she had been openly defiant against the Gospel witness but two weeks ago she yielded her will and admitted she was a sinner in need of a personal Saviour and she believed the Gospel message.
The other adult who accepted Christ is a young adult lady named Som. Several weeks ago we asked you to pray that she would be saved. She spent much time counting the cost of what it would mean for her to become a believer. Her husband, Sum, is not yet saved. When a Cham adult accepts Christ they are immediately ostracized by the community and viewed as a traitor to Islam. This month, in particular, they’ve experienced persecution because they refused to engage in the demonic ceremonies that have taken place during this month of Ramadan. Please pray for Mas and Som as well as the other new Christians in this village to be encouraged in the Lord and that they will continue to let their lights shine. Every Monday morning Bro. Keo and 10-12 of our adults travel to the village to hold a service. We are thankful for the protection that God has granted.
Miss Eng and some of our national ladies organized a Jr. High girls activity this past Thursday evening. They invested many hours in making decorations and preparing food. Mrs. Keo taught a lesson that was directed toward young ladies. There were 49 girls in attendance and it seems like this event was the highlight of their month. Most of these girls also attend our Sunday afternoon children’s ministry. A handful of them have begun to attend Sunday morning services as well. Most of these young girls have not accepted Christ yet. Please pray that our workers will have the wisdom to help lead these girls to a point where they truly understand the Gospel and accept Christ as their personal Saviour.
REACHING OUT TO THE POOR
One of the challenges that a missionary faces in a third-world country is how to effectively reach out to the poor. It is especially difficult to truly help these folks because of the fact that there are so many secular as well as religious groups here in Phnom Penh who are doing “outreach” to the poor. No doubt some of these groups have good motives. However, the vast majority of these organizations appear to be all about fundraising. Many of them teach a gospel that is foreign to the Word of God. (Mormonism, baptismal regeneration, Seven-day Adventist, and a whole array of Charismatic groups) Their methods very often include using money and gifts to entice the poor to join their groups.
In recent months we have seen some of our new Christians find themselves between a rock and a hard place with these groups. We have had folks get saved and leave these groups once they realized that these groups are not teaching the truth. When they leave these cults they also are choosing to walk away from all of the financial support that they had received from these groups. This includes the rice that is given to them each week in exchange for their affiliation with these groups.
One of our newly saved young men just passed a very difficult high school exam and earned his diploma. However, because of his past affiliation with one of these N.G.O. groups he is being forced to go live at a boarding school away from his family in order to continue his education. When he told them that he did not want to continue with this group because he wanted to remain with his family as well as be involved with the ministries of the church, they told him that they would not allow him to have his diploma. If he leaves their group his family will be cut off from the monthly support they receive. Additionally, he will have to pay $500 in order for this group to agree to release his diploma to him. This young man’s mother works full-time and earns less than $100 a month yet she takes time to be at every church service including the Sunday afternoon children’s ministry. Last week she met with us and told us that she wants her son to remain involved in serving the Lord in the various ministries of the church and that she is willing to lose all the support that the cult is presently giving them. Please pray that Mrs. Teven and her son, Reachsay, will have the courage to do right and that God will miraculously provide for this family in a way that only He will get the glory.
While out soul-winning last week Debbie and I ran across a group of children who live very near our church. They live in filthy shacks right next to the open sewer. They do not regularly attend school. Instead they roam the streets all day and late into the night gathering items together that they can recycle for a little cash. Truthfully their future is not very promising. About 10 of these children have asked if we can come to their house to teach them about God. We promised them that we will begin going to their house very soon with some workers and teach them about God. I had occasion to be at the dump sight late one evening this past week and was surprised and saddened to find some of these children digging through the trash looking for things they could salvage. Please pray that our workers will have the wisdom and patience to help make a difference in these children’s lives; both here on the earth as well as for all eternity.
“PASTOR, PLEASE HELP ME DESTROY
MY OCCULTIC PLANTS.”
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” One of the evidences that someone has truly been born again is that they no longer desire the things they used to desire. They fear God more than they fear man. Sinath and his wife, Sopheap, own a tailor shop in our community. They have been saved now for about 9 months. Just hours after Sinath was saved he destroyed all of the idols and occultic icons that were in his home and business. No one had to teach him that God hated idols. He knew right away that his altar and incense were of the devil. When he did that he was ridiculed by the community but he remained resolute in his stand for Christ. Though he destroyed everything that was overtly Buddhist, there still remained one more item that he was not yet willing to give up…
This past Friday evening Sinath came to the church to ask for my assistance. He began to tell me what God had been doing in his heart. I was surprised to learn what it was that God was asking him to do. In fact, to my knowledge, this is the first time in my 27 years of working with the Khmer to ever have someone make this decision. For the past several months the Holy Spirit has been convicting him about getting rid of the plants that hung outside of his business. These plants are apparently used as a “good luck” charm that is believed to entice the public to come to your business. There is a certain ceremony that is performed by the witch doctor that supposedly blesses the plants and gives them certain powers. The dirt used in these plants is dirt that was taken from the grave of Sinath’s ancestors. Apparently God has been telling Sinath to destroy the plants. Instead of obeying God’s still small voice, Sinath made a deal with God. He told God that he could not destroy the plants but that he would just stop watering them. Once they died on their own he felt it would be easier to just take them down and throw them away. So for the past several months he has not watered the plants. He’s been just waiting for them to die on their own so that he could obey God. However, something strange happened – The plants never died! Though they had not been watered for months they remained vibrant. Sinath shared with me that every morning when he opened the doors to his business he was continually reminded about his disobedience to the Lord. He had finally had enough. He was tired of fighting against God’s will. He realized that he was harming his testimony in the community by having these plants.
I went to his business and met with his family. We read portions of Ephesians out loud together and prayed a prayer for God’s forgiveness, cleansing and protection. Then Sinath and I took the plants down and Sinath began smashing them with a hammer. He did not want any of the neighbors to be confused as to his intentions. He did not want any of the evil spirits to be unclear regarding his allegiance to Truth. We placed the broken pottery and shredded plants into a big sack and carried it to the neighborhood dump. All the way home he thanked me over and over for helping him to obey God. Sunday night he shared a testimony in church regarding the new felt freedom he is enjoying now that he has been obedient to God.
The most amazing part of this testimony is how the community has responded to him. Certain members of the community have apparently been very bold and vocal in their disappointment, disgust, and disdain for his recent stand for God. Some of the neighbors believe that the “foreigners” are forcing Sinath to do all of the things that he is doing. They told him, “If you keep following that crazy foreign religion you will eventually wake up one day and realize that everything in your house is gone because the foreigner made you smash it up and throw it away.” When they told Sinath that he is crazy and his business is going to fall apart because he is just taking his new “religion” to far, his wife immediately spoke up and told them that no one forces them to do anything. She told them that they have placed their whole faith and trust in Jesus Christ and that they no longer need the spirits or the evil icons of Buddhism. (We make it a practice NOT to directly confront believers, who are not in a position of public leadership in the church, or non-believers about occultic icons that have become a part of their culture. We have found it best to leave these things to the working of the Holy Spirit. As a new believer reads God’s Word, prays, and listens to Biblical preaching they are moved to obedience that comes from the heart. God does a much better job of straightening people out than we ever could!) Please pray that Sinath, Sopheap, SreyNik (16 years old), and Tean (5 years old) will continue to grow in the Lord.
If you would like to view a 5 minute video about the ministry please click on the link. It will take you to our Vimeo video site. This video features three short testimonies of Cham adults who have been saved and are living for the Lord.http://www.vimeo.com/27811688
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for the ministry here in south east Asia.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason