December 23, 2013
December 23, 2013
We did not plan to post an update this weekend since our update was so long last week. However, this weekend was just so encouraging that we had to share it with those of you who are praying! Thank you for praying for the special Christmas service.
So many people worked so diligently to make the Christmas service successful and we believe that God blessed their faithfulness. Bro. Bounna worked and rehearsed for many hours to write the Christmas play entitled “The Greatest Gift of All.” Debbie, Mrs. Has, and Mrs. Keo worked hard with those who sang special songs throughout the play. Joshua and Justin built the set. Jeremy figured out how to make a very complicated origami star and then taught Mrs. Has how to make it. Mrs. Has, in turn, taught the teen girls how to make the star and they created many of them to decorate the auditorium. Brother Kosal spent countless hours translating the play and songs from English into Khmer. We are indeed blessed to have so many faithful nationals who have been saved here and worked so hard to learn their special songs and their parts for the play. Many of the ladies got up very early, well before the sun came up, to prepare special food for after the service. Several of the men, including Bro. Keo, left the church Sunday morning while it was still dark in order to transport a few of the folks from some of the village ministries to Phnom Penh to join with us in the special service.
My message related to the love of God for us all and was entitled, ” How Much Does God Love Me? “ Unlike most Sunday morning messages here, it was evangelistic in nature due to the fact that we did have a few unsaved first time visitors with us. We were reminded that 1) God loves me so much that He sent His Son to leave the perfection of Heaven and come to sinful earth. 2) God loves me so much that He set aside His glory and took on human flesh. 3) God loves me so much that He suffered the punishment that I deserve upon the cross to redeem me from the curse of the law, the power of the Devil, and the the bondage of sin. 4) God loves me so much that He is preparing a place for me in Heaven.
The play centered upon the life story of a poor family from the countryside and focused upon a very ill mother and a rebellious son. The son rejected his family and left home because he was ungrateful for the gift that his parents gave him for Christmas. The mother’s dying wish was to see her rebellious son return home and come to Christ. However, she passed away before her son got saved. When her son heard of her dying wish it broke his heart and he understood that he was in need of the greatest gift of all – salvation.
Taiwan and Sokeng, who are married in real life, played the parts of the father and mother. They did a fantastic job! Both of them managed to draw the congregation into the reality of the story. Somehow they managed to have real tears at just the right times. I would venture to guess that there was not a dry eye in the house.
Tina played the part of the youngest daughter. Many of you have heard me tell the story of how Tina got saved and became burdened for her parents to know the Lord as well. You may recall that her father, Hem, was working in Malaysia at the time. One day he called Tina on the phone and told her that he was flying back home to Cambodia in a couple of days and that she was to go and buy some alcohol so that he could celebrate with his friends. She told him that she could no longer purchase the alcohol because she was now God’s child and God didn’t want her to do that any more. He was very surprised to hear her say that but figured he would find out more about the crazy “cult” that she had become a part of once he returned home. He then instructed her to go tell “Uncle Ra” that he was coming home and to have Ra go make the purchase for her. Tina responded by saying, “Dad, we are so happy you are coming home but there is a problem…Uncle Ra has become God’s child as well and I’m sure he won’t buy it for you either!” The last Hem knew, Uncle Ra was a faithful Muslim who was training to become an Imam. To make a long story short, Hem returned home to find that many of his family members had accepted Christ and their lives were totally changed. He did not understand the change but his heart was softened because of Tina’s testimony, and soon after his return to Cambodia both Hem and his wife, Beh, accepted Christ as their personal Saviour.
Hem played the part of the saved uncle of the rebellious son. His role in the play brought many laughs from the congregation. God truly has changed his life. Pray for Hem and Beh as they continue to grow. We are planning, Lord willing, to have them become “seed members” of the new church plant in Prak Pnou village.
It was a huge blessing to have Hem (a different Hem) in the service Sunday morning. Hem is the husband of Soam. You may recall that Soam came to the Lord out of Islam and that once she was saved and refused to compromise by attending occultic ceremonies at the Mosque, she was severely persecuted. In fact, she sought refuge for awhile here in Phnom Penh until things settled down a bit. Hem was one of the primary persecutors. It seems that his heart has softened to the truth of the gospel. This is, no doubt, due to Soam’s testimony within the home. Hem is not saved yet but it is a huge step that he is taking by simply joining with the Christians inside of the church. Please pray that Hem will be saved! (FYI – the name Hem comes from the name Abraham. Hem is a common name within the Cham community due to the fact that Islam claims Abraham, of the Old Testament, as one of their prophets.)
We were so happy to have Narann in the morning service. He is the 25 year old son of one of our faithful ladies. Yesterday was his first time to come to church and he felt very welcomed. I am planning to go meet with him this evening at 5:00 to do an evangelistic Bible study with him. His heart is very open and I don’t think it will be long before he understands his need for salvation and accepts Christ. Please pray for myself, Vuthy, and Ra as we all go meet with him this evening.
We took a special offering yesterday to help purchase chairs for the new church plant in Prak Pnou. It is so important that our Phnom Penh church stays involved in helping to spread the gospel throughout the villages as well planting churches in those villages as adults and families come to faith. The natural tendency is to look to the missionary to do evangelism, provide all the vision and leadership, and plant the churches. I am on purpose doing some things to counter that mentality. Our “Gift for Jesus” Christmas offering was just one more reminder that the new church plant in Prak Pnou is a shared responsibility. We are so grateful to see that the folks are burdened for souls and willing to share of their meager resources to see their own people come to Christ. We are reminded of the promise in Philippians 4:19 that God will supply the needs of those who are faithful to Him – especially in the area of giving of their resources for the cause of Christ and His church.
These six teen girls were all a part of the work in Trabang Tma village. (Starting with the young lady in the red sweater on the left. The girl on the far left in the pink sweater is Borey from Phnom Penh.) Shortly after our Youth Conference a few months ago, their parents forced them to come to Phnom Penh to work in a factory. Five of these girls were saved in the Children’s Ministry in Trabang Tma. They pleaded with their parents to not force them to leave home to work in the city. Their primary reason for not wanting to leave was that they desired to remain active in the ministry. Brother Vannak, the national worker who heads up the ministry in Trabang Tma village, told me that the girls all cried when they told him they were leaving. They said that they knew the Christians in Phnom Penh love them and they promised to pray for us all every day.
The girls were basically hidden from Vannak and the rest of our workers for a couple of months. They are forced to work and live in the factory. They work from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. They are forced to work for the illegal wage of 11 cents per hour. It is entirely possible that the product they produce will be under the Christmas tree of many Americans in a few days.
By God’s grace, Vannak and Samantha were able to locate them a couple of weeks ago and reestablish contact with them. Vannak has done a fantastic job of building rapport with their factory supervisor. The girls were miraculously allowed to leave the facilities yesterday from 7:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. so that they would join us for the Christmas service. They were so excited. Our hearts truly go out to them. The five that are saved has such sweet attitudes and are grateful for every kind gesture that was made toward them yesterday. Vannak and Samantha are working hard to see them be able to be at church once a month. Please pray that their boss will be sympathetic to this idea.
Here is the link to a 7 minute video I made yesterday. I encourage you watch the video and take time to thank God for the many blessings He has given you. In the video I share some practical examples of what it is like to earn and try to survive on 11 cents per hour here in Cambodia. It is good for us to be reminded of these girls, our sisters in Christ, plight in life – Especially during this time of year when the world is focused on buying, selling, and receiving gifts. http://vimeo.com/82503610
Thank you for praying and giving that we might all see this part of the 10/40 window reached with the gospel.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason