March 31, 2014
We had good services both Sunday morning and evening here in Phnom Penh. Our English group sang the song, “Each One Can Reach One” and they did a fantastic job! We are hoping to translate that song into Khmer in the near future. Sunday morning I continued in our series from the Book of Mark. This week we considered Mark 1:9-11 and the baptism given by John the Baptist to repentant Jews in preparation for the Messiah, Believer’s Baptism today in the Age of Grace, and the baptism of Jesus by John. We spent considerable time explaining John’s message to the Jewish people of that day concerning repentance. We considered what repentance is as well as what it is not.
It was a blessing to have Saren attend the Sunday morning service in Phnom Penh. Bro. Adrian and some of the workers have been reaching out to him as he lives on their Children’s Ministry route in Stung MeanChey district. Saren is 80 years old and seems to have an open heart. Please help pray for the workers as they follow-up on Saren and his family in regard to salvation.
We are gearing up for Friend Day in each of the four churches on April 6th. We currently have 34 visitors who have promised to come to the Phnom Penh church and another 10 or so folks who live near one of the village churches who have promised to attend. In each of the services we hope to have testimonies from church members as well as a simple message dealing with salvation. Please help us pray for this special day and that God will work in the hearts of our visitors and we will see them come to know Him.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God…”
Soul-winning in a Buddhist country is often a process that takes much time, effort, and the involvement of multiple individuals. Debbie and I are presently working on winning three ladies to the Lord. (Grandma Yon, Mlop, and Key) However, several of our young people are also seeking to win them as is Brother Vannak. With each contact made by the believers from our church we are seeing the walls that they have placed around them come down and they appear to be softening to the truth.With two of these ladies the process has taken around three years to get to the point where they are seriously considering their need of a Saviour.
You have to understand that the Gospel message is never a popular message with the masses. Imagine being told this – You are a sinner who is in need of a Saviour, you are totally unable to do anything to take away your sin, many of the beliefs that your ancestors have followed for centuries are false and will lead you to Hell, Jesus is the only One Who can resolve your sin problem and take you to Heaven, you have to turn to Jesus which, in part, means turning away from your idols in order to have your sin problem resolved, and if you don’t – when you die you will be eternally judged by God for rejecting His Son Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, that is not the “gospel” message that is being propagated by many groups here in Cambodia. The “gospel” that is being preached here in Cambodia is this – “Jesus is a good thing. Go to a Christian church, learn some facts about Jesus and the Bible, have fun dancing while they play some loud music, believe in yourself because that’s what Jesus would want you to do, try your very best to obey the 10 commandments, make sure you get baptized, be a “christian” but make sure that you go out of your way to respect and give value to every religion because, after all, all religions are good because they teach people to be good.”
All of that to say this – normally when an adult comes to Christ here in Cambodia it is as the result of the work of many people. As they are exposed to the love of Christ through those who, on purpose, go out of their way to let their light shine and lovingly tell them the Truth, the Holy Spirit has an opportunity to work on their hearts. Some hearts are harder than others. Some hearts are full of thorns and stones. Soul-winning in a country like Cambodia is almost never something that takes place at someone’s front door in a time period of 60 minutes; unless, of course, there have been others who have already been working with that individual and God has already begun working in their heart prior to us meeting them.
Such is the case with 25 year-old Srey Leak. She came to town to help look after her sick mother. I had the opportunity to speak with her last week when she first arrived but only for a short time. Sunday morning she attended our service in Phnom Penh and was very attentive. When her sister-in-law, Beh, came and found me on Sunday and told me that Srey Leak wanted to talk to me about salvation and some specific questions she had, I was able to help clarify some things for her and after about an hour of teaching her she placed her faith in Jesus Christ. We understand that it is God Who drew her to Himself. He used the faithful examples of many other believers in our church here in Phnom Penh as well as in the village to help soften her heart and cause her to question what she has believed her entire life. I am thankful to have been the one who was able to be with her when she trusted Christ, but I was just one of many who helped play a part in seeing her saved. Please pray for Srey Leak and her spiritual growth. She immediately asked me what she needed to do in order to get a Bible and I was able to provide her with a brand new Bible that was purchased by friends from the United States. Pray for her safety. Srey Leak is Cham and her home is located right next to the Mosque. She told me that she understands clearly that there will be many people in the village who hate her and may try and force her back to her old ways. It is impossible for me to actually visit her at her house right now. I can not go into detail in this blog, but I will tell you that persecution against the believers in her village has begun to increase once again. One of the faithful grandmothers has been so harassed and threatened that she has not been to church in nearly two months. Not only do they “shun” the believers but, in the case of grandma, they pelt her house with rocks all throughout the night in an attempt to intimidate her and force her back to Islam. It is interesting to note that one of the points I discussed with Srey Leak as I was answering some of her questions is the fact that once people from her village have come to Christ, their entire life changes. Their life is characterized by love, peace, and joy rather than jealousy, anger, and hatred. She readily agreed! Please pray for her mother, Meng Sat, to be saved as well.
FYI – Shunning in Islam, at least here in Cambodia, is much more than “excommunication.” It involves refusing to have any communication whatsoever with the individual. Furthermore, if anyone in the village is seen to have any interaction with the one being shunned they face the wrath of the village leaders and will likely be cut off from the regular financial assistance that comes to that village from other countries that are sympathetic to the cause of Islam.
John came to know the Lord through the influence of Bro. Bounna, Bro. Adrian and others here at the church. He is originally from Canada and is married to Aly, a Cambodian national. John and Aly have had their ups and downs but now that John is saved he desires to live a life that pleases the Lord. Please pray for Aly to be saved. She has attended a few services here at the church but is not presently willing to allow any of us into her life. We see a real need to have a ministry here at the church that specifically targets English speaking expats and their spouses who live here in Phnom Penh. Please help us pray about the possibility of seeing an English speaking ministry like that started in the future. For the time being John comes and sits in our services but understands virtually nothing since everything is in the Khmer language. He does attend our Wednesday morning English chapel service but it would be great to have an actual preaching service in English on Sundays for people like him.
There was a good group at the Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry this weekend. Not only did they enjoy a time of singing, testimonies, and preaching but they also had fun playing a new game. In this game words are written on balloons. Some of the words are words describing good things such as Heaven, God, love, joy, church etc… Some of the words are describing bad things such as Hell, the devil, sin, pain etc… The goal is to keep all the bad balloons off of your side and to collect as many good balloons as possible before the buzzer rings. The kids had a great time! (I did notice that when we played this game during our English speaking chapel service one of the balloons had the word “Hillary” written on it as a joke… I am not going to tell you if it was considered a good balloon or a bad balloon… 🙂 For the benefit of those of you in Long Beach – I also saw one balloon with the name “Adrian” written on it…Bro. Bounna had us all vote if that was a good balloon or a bad balloon…The vote didn’t go the way Adrian had hoped. 🙂
The Prak Pnou church plant continues to have first-time visitors each Sunday and Thursday. However, many of the “looky loos” only come once or twice. Once they discover that we are not teaching free English classes, giving out free food, medicine, or eye glasses they suddenly lose interest. There are some adults who we have hopes will be saved soon. Some have visited the services and some have not. Please help pray for Besut, Vy, SokLy, Sina, Grandma Mou, Srey Mao, Phat, Sinath, and Srey Leak to be saved.
I was privileged to meet and lead Vuthy to Christ a couple of years ago as a result of door-to-door soul-winning. Before he was saved he was a professional singer here in Cambodia. In fact, he has won four high profile singing contests. Once he got saved he no longer desired to be a part of the whole party scene which in addition to having sensual music performed by his band always involved drinking, dancing, and immorality. It was a blessing to have Vuthy, his wife Phanny, and two of his sons sing a song just before the message in Prak Pnou. His son, Panouth, played the piano. Vuthy wrote the song himself and it was beautiful. He told me that what inspired him to write the song was the verse 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I have asked his family to be ready to sing the same song on April 13th at our Phnom Penh church during a combined service that will include folks from each of the village churches and one of the village ministries.
One of the “joys” of living in Cambodia is constantly having sellers try to rip us off. Debbie needed to purchase a feather duster this past week as the one she has been using got ruined. She asked the very kind and smiling man pulling the cart how much he charges for his duster. Without missing a beat and while maintaining his huge smile he answered back “Ten dollars.” Of course Debbie knew that price was way off. She immediately asked the fruit seller lady who happened to be standing nearby how much the duster should cost. The lady told her “Three thousand riels” ($.75)! The guy somehow maintained his smile as Debbie walked away… I just asked Debbie if she was smiling as well. She said she was but that her smile was a smile of disbelief!
Please pray for us this Tuesday (Monday night California time) as 5 of us take a survey trip to Takeo province. We are going to check out a village about an hour from Phnom Penh. (ភូមិព្រៃតាខាប ខេត្តតាកែវ) We will be meeting with a family that has told me they are interested in the Gospel.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason