April 7, 2013
We had a great services today. This morning and evening some of our young men sang the song, Lead Me Lord. Kosal, wearing the blue shirt, translated it from English. The best part about their singing this song is that the testimony of their lives back up the words. Here are the words to this song in English:
It’s hard to take the first step, when I don’t know the way.
Each turn is so uncertain; I learn to walk by faith.
But You gave me a promise that You would never leave,
You will lead and guide me, O Lord, I do believe,
Lead me, Lord, I will follow
Lead me, Lord, I will go,
You have called me, I will answer,
Lead me, Lord, I will go.
Your plans for me are perfect, I never need to fear,
For though at times I feel alone, I know that You are near,
My heart just wants to follow, I’m willing to obey,
Take my hand and lead me, I’ll follow all the way.
This morning I continued preaching on the theme of A Transformed Life. This morning’s message was the seventh one in the series. This morning we focused on Romans 12:10a. Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. The words “kindly affectionate” in the Khmer Bible convey the concept of helping to “guard each others heart.” This morning I focused on the importance of using our tongue to build each other up rather than to tear each other down. I believe that this truth spoke to many hearts this morning. The church continues to memorize the book of 2 Peter together. This coming week we will be quoting 2 Peter 2:13-15.
We recently had a combined service and Pot Luck. We try to do this every six weeks. It is a special time for a few of the believers from our various village ministries to have the opportunity to join the services in Phnom Penh. It is important for them to see and feel that they are not the only ones who believe in Jesus. They (from the villages) are encouraged by the large crowd, the singing, the testimonies, and the time of fellowship afterwards. We (from the city) are all encouraged by their boldness for the Lord. It is often much more difficult to live for the Lord in the village than it is in the big city. This month everyone brought their own version of Rice Soup and we enjoyed a special meal after the evening service.
During the evening service sister Soam shared a testimony of her joy in the Lord. You may recall several weeks ago that I wrote about the persecution she was going through in the Cham village. During her testimony she shared several of the events that she believes God used to bring her to Christ. I won’t seek to validate or invalidate her testimony; only God knows the methods He has chosen to draw her to Himself. Soam shared that three years prior to her accepting Christ she was very disillusioned with her religion. She knew that what was being taught and practiced at the local Mosque was not truth. Yet, she didn’t know where to find truth. She shared how that one night she had a dream. She believes that an angel appeared to her in the dream and told her the following: “If you want to know the truth, you will find it in Jesus Christ.” The problem was this – she didn’t know who or what was Jesus Christ. She had been born in the Muslim village and lived there her entire life. All she had known was Islam. Moving forward in time – About two years ago several of her friends from the village accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and soon after began witnessing to her. She knew right away that this was what she was looking for. She knew that the hatred in her religion was not from God. She also knew that there was nothing that she could to to take away her sins. She needed God’s forgiveness. She accepted God’s forgiveness and she bears witness that no amount of persecution can take away the joy and peace that she has in the Lord. She said that she dare not back down in her commitment to the Lord because if she does she knows that those who are persecuting her will never get saved. She believes that they need to see her joy and contentment in the Lord. She has asked that we pray for her husband, Hem, to be saved.
We were blessed to have some of the senior class from our home church in California visiting with us for their senior trip. They attended our combined service and sang the song Sometimes We Wait. Our folks were blessed by their song as well as their examples of love and humility.
Poverty is a very serious problem in much of the 10/40 window. I researched online to try and discover where Cambodia currently ranks in the poverty index. I discovered that economists actually have a formula that they use to determine where each country falls in regard to wealth and poverty. I can assure you that poverty is much more than a formula to those who live all around us here in Cambodia. It is their life. The majority of their waking hours are spent just seeking to make enough money to live and eat for that day. Those who have done the research tell us that approximately 60% of Cambodians live on less than $2.00 a day. (30% on $1.00 or less) Some are under the mistaken notion that the cost of living in many third world countries must be very cheap. I can’t speak for other countries but I can provide you with some practical every day examples of the cost of items here in Cambodia. These prices are approximate. Milk – $8.40 a gallon , Gas – $5.50 a gallon, Ground Beef – $5.25 a pound, Chicken – $2.75 a pound.
For thousands of the young people in Cambodia the key to survival has been working in the garment factories that scatter the outskirts of Phnom Penh as well as several other provinces. As westerners it is very troubling to see the workers herded into trucks and transported from their shabby apartments to the factories every morning. One can literally see several dozen of these trucks every morning heading to each factory. Each truck holds approximately 90 workers. They work, often under very challenging circumstances, for 10-12 hours a day for about $65 a month. Much of their salary is sent back to their village in order to help support their parents and siblings. It might be a good family field trip for you to sometime take your children to WalMart or the local mall and merely look at the tags on the clothing that is sold there and think about the young people all around the world who labor to make that clothing. It ought to affect the way that we as Americans view the cheap items that we buy.
Some have no marketable skills or farmland from which to derive an income so they have resorted to gathering trash and recyclable items which they sell for cash. This woman likely supports several children on the small amount of money she can gather each day from the profits on her recycling efforts. Those who recycle will go door to door in the city and collect items from people at their homes. Unfortunately, the majority of homeowners sell these items to the recyclers and so there is not much profit left to be had. We always enjoy giving our recyclable items away for free along with a gospel tract.
It is always amazing to see how, even the poorest of the poor, will often times have priorities that seem to be out of kilter. Here we see a very basic village shack made of scrap aluminum. Right next to this shack is their satellite dish that provides them with satellite television. The television and the satellite are all run on batteries because this village, to my knowledge, does not yet have electricity.
Our lives are touched in so many ways as we seek to minister among the poor here in Cambodia. One of the things that touches our hearts is when we see poor children being generous with the small amount of money that they do have. Srey Neang, 14 years old, is an example of a young lady who lives in less than ideal circumstances which I will not elaborate upon. This past week she came to church with a gift that she presented to me. It was the tie that I am wearing in this photo. You should have seen the joy on her face as I wore it this morning to church. She has a job and gets paid $.31 an hour. I have no idea how many hours she had to work just to earn the money to purchase this silk tie.
Taiwan and his wife are another example of two new followers of Christ who are learning to honor God with their lives. I have begun teaching a series on Wednesday evenings on the topic of Biblical Stewardship. This past week SokKang shared a testimony with me regarding how God is working in their hearts to be faithful to Him with their possessions. Taiwan works full-time as a chef. SokKang is a stay-at- home mother. Recently Taiwan made a mistake at his job that caused an entire chicken to spoil. All the other employees encouraged him to hide the mistake from the boss. They assured him that they would help cover for him. His immediate response was, “No, I must tell the boss what I did.” They assured him that if he told the boss then his pay would be docked for the value of the chicken. Taiwan responded to them by saying, “I could deceive the boss, but I’m a Christian and I know that I could never deceive God. I will tell the boss and let him take it from my pay.” He did tell his boss and his boss did say that he would have to pay for the chicken. As SokKang shared this testimony with me she did it with a smile on her face! She said, “Pastor, I am so thankful that my husband is honest. He is a great example. He has been witnessing to the other employees at work for several months. Now they will see that he is truly God’s child.” The amount that Taiwan was due to pay was equal to about 8-10% of his monthly pay but he was happy to do it because he knew he was doing the right thing. The good news is this – When he got paid at the end of the week the boss had a change of heart and decided to not penalize him. He thanked him for being an honest employee!
Please pray for the ministry in Taiwan’s village. For quite awhile now our workers have been teaching 300-400 children each week in Ta Skov. The video that I have attached to this update shows some of the children walking to the Bible study. We have had resistance off and on for a couple of months now from a “church” that is in the village who has been running just a small handful of people. They became very angry at us for going into the village and teaching the children about God. A couple of weeks ago they began offering free English classes to try to draw the children away from us. (This is a common tactic here in Asia that is used by “churches” that want to draw a crowd. That is the point – they draw a crowd. A crowd and a congregation are not the same thing…I digress…) They managed to entice about 100 of the children away from our Children’s Ministry. However, we are very encouraged by the many children who are more interested in hearing God’s Word taught than they are in receiving free English classes. It appears that we may be losing the location where we have been meeting for over a year now. Please help us pray that God will grant wisdom and direction as we seek to locate a place large enough to accommodate that many children.
Here is the link to a 12 minute video update that we did after this morning’s service here in Phnom Penh. https://vimeo.com/63499776
Thank you for your continued prayers and interest in the ministry here in Cambodia. If we can help you in any way please feel free to contact us.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason