April 6, 2014
Thank you for praying for our special Friend Day today! The Phnom Penh morning service was so packed that even the overflow room was nearly full of people. So many people prayed, fasted, and worked hard to make today a success. We had 57 first time visitors in the services this morning! This evening I reminded the church that the work has just begun. Now it is time to try and follow-up on these folks. I gave them a three step process to follow-up this week. Pray that we will see some of our guests come to know the Lord in the weeks and months to come.
Some of the teen girls sang the hymn “Only Trust Him.” My message this morning had three very simple points that were all specifically directed toward our first time visitors: 1) There is ONE true God, 2) Each of us will die ONE time, 3) There is only ONE way to Heaven.
One of the highlights of the Friend Day service was hearing the salvation testimonies of several of our people. Each of them shared how their lives had been totally changed by Jesus Christ after they got saved.
Sopheap, who is in her late 30s, shared that before she was saved she was an angry and stressed out person who, even though she tried to gain merit by following her Chinese Cambodian form of Buddhism, had no hope. After her husband, Sinath, accepted Christ he witnessed to her for 5 months before she finally admitted that she was a sinner in need of salvation.
Taiwan, who is in his late 20s, shared that before accepting Christ as his personal Saviour he hated Christianity and considered it a foreigners religion. He shared that he tried to hide many things from his wife and treated her quite badly. After he accepted Christ his whole life changed. He not only had his sin forgiven but he received a new love for those around him.
Beh, who is in her early 30s, grew up in a Muslim village and adhered to Islam. After her husband, who also was a former Muslim, accepted Christ he began witnessing to her. She rejected salvation for some time but eventually accepted Christ as her personal Saviour. Although her family has experienced persecution she shared that she has never regretted being a follower of Jesus Christ.
Srey Neang, 15 years old, shared how she used to try hard to be a good Buddhist and gain merit so that her “next life” could be better than this life. She shared that when soul-winners from the church first witnessed to her she rejected Jesus because she thought He was only for foreigners. After some time she got saved and rejoices that three of her younger sisters are also now professing Christians.
Kanya, 25 years old, shared that before she was saved her life was full of bitterness against her biological parents who had literally abandoned her in a trash bag shortly after she was born. Being raised by her aunt and grandmother, her life was not always the easiest. She shared that she worked very hard to do good things because her grandmother taught her that if she did that she could be reincarnated and have a better life. She shared that once she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour and experienced the forgiveness of her sins she lost all of her feelings of resentment against those who had wronged her. She gave testimony that even though her entire family has literally disowned her and removed her name from the family book (a family registry / document here in Cambodia that is used for legal transactions), she has never regretted becoming a Christian. She thanked the Lord that she and her husband are enjoying a Christian marriage.
Vannak, 28 years old, shared that as a young man he had seen a Christian film that depicted the life of Christ. He remembers seeing and learning that Jesus was crucified on the cross of Calvary but no one could tell him why. It was not until some years later that a soul-winner from our church met him and explained to him that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for the sins of the world. Once he understood that truth he gladly accepted Christ as his Saviour.
Bo, who is in his mid 50s, shared that he used to be full of bitterness and resentment. However once he got saved God helped to remove that bitterness and gave him a love for those he once hated.
Debbie and I had three friends signed up to come but only two of them came. We were so happy that they came, especially since one of them tried to hide from us yesterday when we went to their home to remind them about Friend Day! Please pray for Sokha and Chamrong to be saved. Sokha and her husband, Dara, have visited the church in the past but are not yet saved. Chamrong told me that he has never once been in a church nor studied about Jesus. I hope to meet with him for lunch sometime this week.
After the service we dismissed all the members who did not have a visitor with them in the service and requested that only the first time visitors and the people who brought them remain. We were able to take a few more minutes to remind them that God loves them, our church loves them, and we were very happy that they came for our special service. Two of our visitors did not speak Khmer very well and definitely could have benefited by having an English speaking service. One of them, Rith, was a 40 year old Cambodian man who grew up in the United States but moved here four years ago to work. Another was a Caucasian man from Washington state who is in his late 20s and moved here to Cambodia two years ago to get married and work. Please help us pray that we will be able to start an English speaking Bible study and/or church service. There are literally thousands of foreigners here in Phnom Penh and very little effective Gospel witness reaching them.
We are thankful for the many folks who worked so hard to help make Friend Day a success. These ladies spent several hours Friday afternoon and evening to purchase and prepare gift bags for each of our first time guests.
Sitha and her husband, Maldy, are both public school teachers and are very faithful to all of the services of the church here in Phnom Penh. Not only do they travel a great distance to be a part of the ministries here but they always stay after each service to help clean the building. The property was a total wreck after this morning’s service and Debbie and Sitha had the opportunity to clean it together. We thank the Lord for Sitha and Maldy’s faithful servant spirit and example of humility and initiative.
I took this picture in Prak Pnou this afternoon just after the service. It struck me just how diverse the Prak Pnou church actually is. Thy is Vietnamese and was reached through the outreach to Prak Pnou village. Samantha is ethnically Cambodian but grew up in the United States. Her family moved to the States during the war in Cambodia. Vannak is Cham and grew up in a Muslim village here in Cambodia. And Kanha is just plain Cambodian! All four of these folks have very different cultural backgrounds and life experiences but they are unified through their faith in Christ.
This past week four of us took a survey trip to Takeo province and visited a village that is 81 kilometers (54 miles) from our church. I was referred to In On and his wife, Mohm, by some Christian Cambodian folks in the United States. This family was led to Christ several years ago but has never had the opportunity to be taught. As far as we can tell they have never had a pastor or spiritual leader. It is my understanding that they contacted some of my Cambodian friends in the States and expressed their desire to have someone help disciple them. They are also requesting that someone help start a church in their village. They have plenty of land and, in fact, they have a meeting place – but they have no leader. In addition to this family there are several other folks in this village who profess faith in Christ. We are trying to determine if this village is a potential door that the Lord has opened for us to start a church. Please help us to pray regarding Prey TaKap village. It is our understanding that there is not a gospel preaching church within many miles of this village. There is a good chance that I will be returning this week to once again meet with this family and try to more clearly discern their motives and desires.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason