February 24, 2013
We had a great weekend here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Thank you for praying for the various ministries. This morning our English choir sang the song, “It’s Through the Blood.” This song emphasizes the importance of the blood of Christ. We are thankful for the hard work and the time that this group invests to help provide good godly music for our services on a regular basis.
Today I continued preaching on a series dealing with the transformed life. Today’s text verse was Romans 12:9a, “Let love be without dissimulation…” (Dissimulation means hypocrisy). I devoted much time this morning and evening dealing with the truth that, as parents, our love for our children is to be unconditional. Love is unconditional but fellowship has conditions. This evening I devoted the entire message to stress the importance of not allowing an adult child who is a rebel remain in the home. This area of family life tends to be a strong-hold in many homes here in this part of the world. I have observed over and over, throughout the 28 years that I have been working among the Cambodian people, how the oldest child rebels and is allowed to remain in the home. Almost without fail he/she influences his siblings in the wrong way. Invariably we have seen each child, one by one, follow in the oldest child’s footsteps. So the purpose of today’s messages was to try and help prevent that from happening to the families of our church. We have so many young families who need to be taught truths that are so basic to us who have grown up in the church. Yet to them these truths are sometimes difficult to accept. I’m so thankful to have the privilege to help lead a church that, for the most part, is full of people who not only desire to know what God says, but desire to obey Him as well!
Our people are continuing on in the challenge to memorize the entire book of 2 Peter. Each week we all strive to quote at least three verses. It is such an encouragement to see how many people have readily taken on this challenge. It is helping to build team spirit as well.
This morning Vong Socheat, 72 years old, quoted the entire first chapter of 2 Peter all at once. She puts those of us who are younger to shame. As she grows in the Lord we really believe that God desires for her to use her influence to see many people come to know the Lord here in Cambodia. Sister Socheat has a high ranking government job in the Ministry of Education. Pray that she continues to grow in her faithfulness to the Lord and her involvement in the various ministries of the church.
Koeuth and Pich are sisters who live in a Catholic orphanage not far from our church. They were so excited to be at church this morning. Pich shared with me that she is a Christian but has not been to church for a long time. She shared how she was so blessed just by being with the other believers this morning and taking part in the service. She has asked for prayer that she and Koeuth will be allowed to continue to come to our church. As a Christian she is very disturbed to see the other young people in the orphanage praying to Mary (as well as still performing Buddhist rituals). She says that she knows that is not right and we are only to worship the true God. Please pray that her authorities in the orphanage will allow these two young ladies to get close to our church ladies. I believe they have so much potential for the Lord!
Last week we had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with some of the couples in the church. We rented a large boat and took a two hour tour on the Mekong River. It was a blessing to have 14 of our faithful couples participate in this activity. There were others who desired to join in but were unable to because of schedule conflicts. Pray for the marriages in our church to be strong for the Lord. During the message tonight I made a statement that I have heard many times said from the pulpit in the United States – “We have weak communities because we have weak churches. We have weak churches because we have weak families. We have weak families because the husbands are not strong. The husbands, many times, are not strong because they have never been taught how to properly lead in their home.” We are planning, on purpose, to focus on discipling the men this year.
It is such a blessing to see how Sinath and Sopheap are growing in the Lord. Their joy is very evident on their faces. They have recently undergone some persecution by their unsaved family members but they remain committed to follow the Lord in every area of their lives. Sinath is faced with making a very important decision this week that has the potential to greatly affect him financially. In order to maintain his testimony in the village it is very likely that he will decide to yield his rights to some land. This decision is not one that he is taking lightly but he feels that he may need to do this in order to be the testimony that he feels the Lord wants him to be. Sopheap is supporting him in this decision. Please pray that Sinath and Sopheap will have wisdom to make the proper decision. Lord willing, we will be building a church building in his village in a few weeks.
I’m encouraged by the spiritual growth that is evident in Brother Sovann and some of his family. Sovann came to know the Lord through another group about 10 years ago. While we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with that particular church on many issues of the Christian life, it is obvious that Sovann developed a teachable spirit and a true heart to serve the Lord. Sovann and several of his family members have been attending the church and Bible Institute for about 7 months now. Sovann’s work schedule demands much of his time but he has made the decision to get involved in the outreach of our church as much as he can. Two weeks ago he began going soul-winning on Saturdays with our church. It has been a blessing to have him as my partner both of these weeks. Pray that Sovann and his wife will continue to remain teachable. I believe that God can truly use this family for His glory among the Cambodian people.
You may recall that we are focusing on a village not far from here named Prak Pnou. Each Tuesday and Saturday we go there to teach as well as evangelize. There have been several adults and young people accept Christ as their personal Saviour. This past Tuesday PhanNy accepted the Lord as her Saviour. She has been attending the Bible study group for nearly a year now but just recently admitted that she was not yet saved. We are thankful for her courage to approach one of the workers this past Tuesday and express her desire to be saved. Pray that she will be faithful to the Lord. She has a burden to see others come to know the Lord as well.
I’m so excited to let you know that Somvouth accepted Christ this past Saturday! When I went to go teach him at his home I could tell right away that there was something different about his attitude. Myself, Sinath, and Sovann have been going to his home for several weeks now and sharing the gospel with him. Thank you for praying for his salvation. Pray that his wife, Nyoum, will also see her need to accept Christ for herself. Saturday morning when I asked her if she was ready to turn to God from idols, her reply was, “I will follow my husband. Whatever he decides to believe I will believe.” It is evident that she does not yet understand that forgiveness of sins is something that she must personally accept. Pray for Somvouth to be faithful to the Lord. Somvouth is a self employed tailor and works on a very busy street that is in full public view. Every time I am at his house we draw quite a bit of attention to say the least. His neighbors are curious as to why there is a white man (me) at his house. It will be impossible for him to be an “undercover Christian.”
Tomorrow afternoon Man and Kanha will become engaged to be married. We will hold a special meeting here at the church and certain people will be invited to come and witness the engagement. Engagements are normally quite a big deal in this culture. It is a time when both sides of the family come together along with friends and acknowledge the relationship. I led Man to Christ about 8 years ago. Kanha was led to Christ by a single young lady from our home church in Long Beach who served for a short time with us here in Cambodia. Both Man and Kanha have paid a heavy price for their faithfulness to the Lord over the past year. Man’s father, a village chief, has totally abandoned the family because of their faith in Jesus Christ. True to Muslim tradition, this past year he also divorced Man’s mother because she would not renounce her faith in Christ and return to Islam. Kanha’s entire family has made it very clear that they are very unhappy with her decision to follow Christ and turn away from Buddhism. Because of Kanha’s unwavering commitment to honor the Lord with her life, her family has, within the past two weeks, disowned her. The “straw that broke the camels back” was when she refused to follow her parent’s command to have a Buddhist Priest and alcohol at the wedding. Because of her decision to follow her convictions her family has totally cut her off. Though this young couple is experiencing much heartache because of the rejection of their family, they remain joyful in the Lord. Both of them are fantastic soul-winners. They both teach children and young people here at the church and I know that, as they remain faithful, God will continue to use them for His glory. Please pray that Man’s father and Kanha’s entire family will have a change of heart and agree to participate in the wedding that is scheduled for the middle of March. (Man’s entire family, other than his father, are now saved and faithful to the Lord.)
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason