August 24, 2014
We had a wonderful weekend here in Phnom Penh. It was very tiring but it was wonderful! It is such a privilege to be able to serve along side so many people whose lives have been changed by the power of the gospel. Thank you for standing along side the work here in Cambodia. We know that it is God Who is working in lives and that people are being drawn to Him because of His goodness and the prayers of His people.
We were blessed with several special songs from the folks. One of the specials was sung by our English speaking ensemble. They sang the song, “I’ll Say Yes, Lord, Yes!” I’m thankful that it is not just a song they sing. It is a life they have chosen to embrace. We enjoyed hearing a testimony from one of the men whose life has been changed by the Lord. He challenged each of us to choose to live for the Lord. I continued in our sermon series from the Book of Mark. We considered the four types of hearts – the hard heart, the stony heart, the heart filled with thorns, and the good heart. The response to the truth of God’s Word was encouraging.
So many of you have let us know that you are praying for Soam and Hem and the salvation of their children. You may recall that Soam accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour and immediately began receiving serious persecution from those in her village. Perhaps her greatest persecutor was her husband, Hem. There was one time that she had to escape the village and seek refuge here in the city out of fear for her life. God truly did a great work in her heart when she got saved and His grace enabled her to let her light shine. Because of her strong testimony and love for the Lord her husband saw that her life was changed. Several months ago her husband accepted Christ as well and followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism. He now faithfully attends church and seeks to share the truth of the gospel with those in his village. Both Soam and Hem have been burdened for their five children and their salvation. It was a great blessing to have two of their adult children accept Christ as their personal Saviour over the past two months! This morning their 24 year old son, Zen, and their 19 year old daughter, Phalay both followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism! This was such a joyous occasion for Hem and Soam as well as everyone in the church. This family is a perfect example of how truly living for the Lord in the home will be used by God to bring conviction to the hearts of unsaved family members. Please continue to pray a hedge of protection around this family as they seek to win other Muslims to the Lord.
Every Saturday Debbie and I go soul-winning on the north-east side of town about 15 minutes from the Phnom Penh church in an area called Toul Kork. It is a blessing to normally have around 25-30 soul-winners from the Phnom Penh church go to Toul Kork with us as well each Sunday afternoon to hand out tracts and seek to present the gospel to the lost. We are looking to this part of town as a probable church plant in 2015. A vibrant soul-winning church is needed in this part of town to reach the thousands of families who live there. To the best of our knowledge there is no church in the area we are targeting. We have had a lot of open resistance to our soul-winning efforts and the efforts of the folks from the church. The truth of God’s Word is never a popular message when heard by those who love their sin but there is another reason why the people in this part of town may have a hatred for the gospel. I just found out this past week that there used to be a “church” (I use that term very loosely) in the area where we are soul-winning that was a total fraud. They had no real congregation. They only had a building and a sign out front. Once in awhile they would hand out fliers in the community inviting everyone to come to their building and receive gifts of rice and food. When they gathered a crowd they would take pictures and apparently use those pictures in various ways to effect personal gain. Those living in the community knew that this group was a total fraud but, though they knew they were being used as pawns, apparently many people would attend their occasional gatherings in order to receive the gifts they were handing out. I’m sad to say that these methods are actually quite common here in Cambodia and they cause an unnecessary reproach to come upon true Christians as they are often viewed as “rice Christians.” (A “rice Christian” is someone who associates themselves with an NGO or a church because of the physical benefits they gain or hope to gain by their affiliation with that group. It is a significant problem in more than one country here in southeast Asia.) This fake “church” has either closed their doors or changed locations because they are no longer in Toul Kork, but their terrible example lives on. We regularly have folks outright refuse to accept a tract or once they receive it they throw it on the ground, sometimes tearing it into small pieces first because of what they perceive to be the hypocrisy of Christians. Of course they don’t understand that the church was Christian in name only.
A month ago Debbie and I met LyLy while going door-to-door. We have been able to spend a lot of time with her presenting the gospel. The devil is definitely working overtime to try and keep her from the truth. It was a blessing to be able to spend an hour and a half or two hours with her yesterday in her home as we again attempted to present the gospel to her. She admitted to us certain things she is struggling with in regard to accepting salvation and we feel like we are getting closer to her and winning her trust. We don’t normally go out of our way to encourage the lost to attend church. Though the gospel is presented sometime during every Sunday service, most of the preaching at church is geared toward the edification, instruction, and correction of the saved in order that they may live a victorious life as a Christian and be able to win their family and loved ones to the Lord. Most of those whom we and the soul-winners lead to Christ here in Cambodia are led to Him in their homes as we GO to where they are. However, it is common for someone here to want to visit the church as they consider what it means to become a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ. They know that there will be a price to pay as their family and friends will likely reject them and consider them to be traitors to their culture and religion if they become a Christian. It is often a very good sign when an adult desires to visit the church even though they have been told that we don’t hand out money, rice, food, or teach free English classes. I’ve found that it often means they are close to getting saved but they are afraid that they will be all alone if they become a Christian. They desire to visit the church to see if anyone else believes the things we are telling them. We are always happy to have them come and visit because we know that they will be shocked by what they experience. They will meet a bunch of happy and joyful people who are at church not because they hope to get a gift or learn English. They are here because they desire to be here. They enjoy being at church and hearing the Word of God preached and fellowshipping with other believers! I remember one man telling me when he visited from another church that is quite a bit different than ours, “I’m so surprised. It seems like all these people are happy and actually want to be here.” I asked him what he meant by that statement. He told me that he has never been to a church but what the people were there and willing to endure the service out of their desire to get the free medicine, rice, or free English classes that the missionary was offering to entice them to come.
While meeting with LyLy yesterday she suddenly asked us if she can go to our church. It was a blessing to pick her and her daughter up for the morning service. I made it a point to watch their faces during the service. The expressions seemed to go from amazement to enjoyment. Please pray for LyLy and her daughter, SreyHang, as we continue to try and win them to the Lord.
Sarom and his wife, SokunThea, are another family Debbie and I met while going door-to-door in Toul Kork over the past month. We have had the opportunity to spend time with them on several occasions. This past week I had the chance to spend 3 straight hours with them answering questions and, in turn, asking them thought-provoking questions. Sarom works for the government and has an advanced degree. He also speaks near fluent English. His wife is very personable and immediately took to Debbie. After the second time of meeting with this couple in their home I had the opportunity to discuss with them the “cycle” of life as understood by those who follow Buddhism. A very common phrase that is universally understood by those who hold to that religion is – “born, old, sick, die.” I very often use this in my soul-winning. We discussed this cycle then I asked Sarom the question, “What happens after you die?” Immediately his wife said, “This is what we are wondering!” I really believe that this family is opening up to the gospel. This past week I brought Brother Sinath with me to meet with Sarom. After some small talk Sarom asked Sinath this question, “Do you have very many friends?” I immediately understood what was driving that question. Sarom was wondering if he became a Christian would be he all alone or are there other Cambodians who believe also. Thankfully God gave Sinath wisdom to answer the question in an honest but forthright manner.
Yesterday Sarom asked me if it would be okay for him to visit the church. It was a huge blessing for us to have him in the service this morning. I really believe that he is being drawn by the Holy Spirit to salvation. Please pray a hedge of protection around Sarom, SokunThea, and their three children. The devil is trying hard to scare them off. Wednesday, after spending three hours with me and really opening up to the truth I was presenting to them, out of nowhere a mophed raced down the street and hit their 5 year old son. He was immediately rushed to the hospital where he spent two days undergoing tests and brain scans. He is now back home and thankfully only has a seriously swollen head, lots of bruises, and some stitches on his legs. I have no doubt that the devil orchestrated this event in an attempt to scare them off. Saturday when I met with Sarom and SokunThea I was able to tell them that it is God Who preserved the life of their son – It is Jesus Who gives life and the devil who seeks to destroy life. (John 10:10)
Our family is planning to meet together with their family Monday night for dinner in their home. Please pray that God will direct our conversation and actions in such a way that Sarom and SokunThea will better understand that God loves them and that they need to turn to Him for forgiveness of their sins.
Ra, along with 13 other new believers, followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism this morning. He is from the Cham village and until now has kept his faith from his family out of fear that he would be persecuted and likely cut-off from the family and the village. His with, Pich, knew he became a Christian and has been witnessed to by several of the believers in the village. However, she has resisted getting saved because she is scared that her Muslim parents will disown her. I was very surprised to see not only Pich in the service this morning but to see her mother sitting right next to her! I did not get a chance to ask Ra how it was that his mother-in-law came to church with them…apparently the “cat is out of the bag!” Pich’s mother was sitting far enough away from the platform that I was not able to really see the expressions on her face during the service. One thing is for sure. It is likely that the entire village knows that Ra was baptized this morning. There is no way to hide it! Please pray for Pich to be saved and that her life might be used to help win her parents to the Lord as well. Ra has indicated that he desires to study in our Bible Institute beginning September 1st. Pray that God will use him to lead his family and influence many for the Lord.
Please pray for San and Yom. They are faithfully serving the Lord but desire to be even more committed to eternal things. They own and operate a small electronics repair shop in order to support the economy of their family. Though they enjoy a comfortable income they feel like they are wasting their time making money when there are so many villages all around them without any true gospel representation whatsoever. They are presently praying about what God would have for their future. I will begin meeting with them one-on-one on a weekly basis beginning this next week to help encourage and equip them as they are going to start systematically and purposefully discipling teens and young adults in four villages near our Anlong Tnout church. Pray for God’s direction and provision for this godly family as they are used by God for His eternal purposes. They are expecting the arrival of a new baby in two months.
It is so exciting to see how God is opening doors within the deaf community for the gospel. Miss Grace (front row far right side in the pink blouse) and Sina (back row in the blue t-shirt) have have been given rare access to this community as God has directed their lives. As I have mentioned in the past, the deaf community is considered to be an “unreached” people group here in Cambodia. It seems that every week we are introduced to a new deaf person here in Phnom Penh. This past Monday evening Debbie and I had the privilege to take 9 of our deaf friends out for pizza and spend several hours with them. Four of these young adults have recently accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and are excited about trying to win their friends and hearing family members. One of these young ladies, Sopheap, is not saved but visited the church once. After that visit she began experiencing paranormal activities within her home that were very evidently orchestrated by the devil in an attempt to scare her away from us. While she told her friends that she does not want to go back to the church, she did agree to go eat with us. More than one of our church members have experienced unusual spiritual warfare over the past month and it is possible that we can attribute it to the enemie’s attempt to keep the gospel from going to the deaf community here in Cambodia. Please pray for our deaf friends who have made a profession of faith to have the courage to witness of their new faith as they continue to grow in the Lord. Also, pray for Grace and Sina as they are investing many hours each week in winning these folks to the Lord.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason