September 22, 2013
We had great services here in Phnom Penh again this morning. The auditorium was packed and the spirit was good. It was a blessing to have a new young man, Vuthy, visit the morning service. Vuthy recently graduated from university with a degree in Management. When I asked him who invited him to our church he indicated that no one had invited him. He just moved to our neighborhood and saw the church and decided to come. He indicated that he has been a believer for 4 years. Pray that our young adult men will get close to him and that we will be able to see him get plugged into the ministry. He returned for the evening service as well.
After the morning service, once everyone has cleared out of the auditorium, some of us set up for the Children’s Ministry service while other folks go into the community to make some visits. Today as I was “managing by walking around” (making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing) I stopped to chat with SreyKa, SreyPouv, and Somphous. They were all three busy sweeping the auditorium and setting up for the next service. Somphous told me, “Pastor, SreyKa wants to accept Jesus as her Saviour. Can you help her?” I had never met SreyKa but the four of us sat down on one of the mats and I explained salvation to her. She said that her children’s class teacher, Mrs. Bounna Has, had taught her about salvation and she was ready to believe. Right there on the mats she bowed her head and told Jesus that she was a sinner, could not save herself, and believed that He had paid the price for her sin and asked Him to please forgive her sins and take her as His child. That was a blessing. Somphous and SreyPouv were very excited because they have been praying for her and encouraging her to come to church. Thank the Lord for young children who have a heart for the lost around them. Mark 10:15 reminds us that if we are going to be saved, we must also have the faith of a child who is willing to take God at His Word and receive Him in simple faith.
We plan, Lord willing, to have our first Youth Conference here in Phnom Penh this next Sunday and Monday. We were supposed to have it last week but chose to postpone it due to the political protests that were going on here in the city. The conference will be primarily geared toward the faithful teens, like Borey, Linda, and Liza, who are a part of the Phnom Penh church. The village churches in Anlong Tnout and the Prey Bang church will send their teens as well. However, we are also inviting teens who faithfully attend our village works (works that have not yet become a church) in Trabang Tma and Prak Pnou village. We anticipate having Hang, (16 years old) from Lawgombou village, attend as well. We have been reaching out to his family for the past several months. They are not saved as of yet but I believe they are opening up to the gospel. Please pray that our teens will have safety traveling from the various villages here to Phnom Penh and that the conference will be used to challenge them to be a bright light in their community as well as maintain a close walk with the Lord.
The next couple of weeks are a “slippery” time for many of the new believers who have been delivered out of Buddhism. The Pjum Ben festival is the first week of October and is one of the most important festivals here in this country. It is a time of devil worship and ancestral worship. In reality, it, along with ancestral worship in general, is likely the single most significant stronghold that Satan has on this culture because of the fact that it incorporates ones familial responsibilities with occultic practices. It is a yearly thing that we have faced with the Khmer people since we first began winning the Cambodian people to Christ back in 1984. New believers will be faced with a decision to go to the temple and participate with their families or to stand alone. This evening one of our young men said to me, “Pastor, will you please pray for me? I am worried that my parents will try and force me to participate in Pjum Ben and I want to be faithful to God.” Please pray for our new believers to be strong and trust in the protection of the Lord during the next couple of weeks.
The new church plant in Prey Bang village continues to go forward. Sinath has truly been a great example for the Lord in his home village. Pouv is his uncle and accepted Christ several months ago because of Sinath’s testimony. Prior to Sinath being saved he held a grudge against Pouv and his wife, Pa. Sinath recently gave testimony about how they hated each other for many years and had no communication whatsoever between each other. He shared that once he accepted Christ as his Saviour God gave him a forgiving heart and he desired to win Pouv and Pa to the Lord. We are so excited to see how Pouv and Pa are growing in the Lord. Bro. Keo and Sinath and others from the church are so faithful at going to the village twice each week to hold services. As with any new work it sometimes seems that we take three steps forward and two steps back, but overall the work in Prey Bang is moving ahead. You may recall the simple church building that we put up several months ago in this village. Pouv is the land owner and so his testimony in the village is very important. Please pray that Pouv and Pa will continue to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Lord, in their separation from the world, and in their boldness to shine as a light in a very dark place. All around the church is drunkenness, gambling, and other forms of debauchery. No doubt some folks in the village are not real excited to have a new church right smack in the middle of their “fun.”
It was a blessing to have Vannak and Samantha joined together in marriage yesterday morning. I don’t know if I’ve ever known a finer Christian couple than these two. During the wedding ceremony we gave them both an opportunity to publicly share their testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. Vannak boldly shared of his resolve to continue serving the Lord with his whole heart. This couple has so much potential for the Lord; they are teachable, humble, dependable, energetic, both of them are soul-winners, and now they can serve the Lord together. Their courtship was Christ honoring and a wonderful example to the young adults in our church. It was a blessing to us all to see them in the morning service today. They put off leaving for their honeymoon because they did not want to miss church. Please pray for Vannak and Samantha to continue to be faithful to the Lord and to His work.
It was a blessing to be able to fellowship with Vannak’s grandmother at the wedding. She lives in the Cham village two hours from the church. She is a part of our Anlong Tnout village church. After grandma got saved her whole attitude changed. I remember how 7 years ago she would openly mock me as I taught in the village but now God has done a great work in her life. Yesterday I told her that her eyes were bright. She replied, “That is because of the new life that Jesus has given to me!” Thank you for continuing to pray for the Cham believers.
You may recall that several months ago we requested prayer for Soam. As a new believer she was undergoing serious persecution by her lost husband, Hem. For a time she sought refuge here in Phnom Penh with the believers because of specific threats that were made toward her due to her refusal to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam. I remember her telling me, “Pastor, I can not abandon my faith. If I do, I know for sure that my husband and family will never be saved. I have to go forward for Jesus.” It was a blessing to see her husband, Hem, attend the wedding yesterday here at the church and then the reception afterwards. This is huge! I am certain that it took a lot of courage for him to do so as he likely assumed that we would all look down on him. Praise the Lord that everyone was loving toward him and very welcoming. I do think that God may have used the wedding to work in his heart and soften him to the message of the gospel. Please pray that Hem will be saved! Perhaps he will become like the Apostle Paul who once persecuted the church but who came to become a child of God who boldly proclaimed the good news of salvation!
If we can help you in any way please don’t hesitate to let us know. We always are encouraged to hear how you are faithfully praying for the work here in Cambodia!
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy. and Jason