April 1, 2015
It is hard to believe that a month has already passed since our last update. We have been blessed to be able to meet many of you in person as we have been traveling and reporting on the work in Southeast Asia. We look forward to meeting more folks in the few short weeks that remain before we return overseas.
It was a blessing to receive updates from several of our folks in Cambodia about what happened this past weekend. We are so thankful for faithful team members and national believers who are faithfully serving the Lord in the various ministries in which God has allowed our family and team to be a part.
Sunday morning 13 folks publicly identified themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ by following Him in Believer’s Baptism. There were at least 300 in attendance in our morning service in Phnom Penh, the majority of whom have professed faith in Christ. However, there were some folks present who are not yet saved.
One of those who attended the morning service but who is not yet saved is Mr. Sok. Brother Man and Kosal, as well as others, have been faithfully witnessing to him for many months. I remember going with Man to Sok’s house last year to help explain to him the Bible and his need of salvation. When we got there he was wearing a t-shirt that said “ព្រះយេស៊ូវ” (“Jesus” in the Khmer language). I asked him why he was wearing that shirt if he did not yet accept Jesus as his Saviour. He said “I decided to wear this shirt and ride my bike through the neighborhood to see what everyone’s reaction would be.” Translation – “I’m counting the cost of what it would mean if I become a Christian…will my people accept me or will I be an outsider.” You see, with people like Mr. Sok who have been witnessed to time after time, the problem is not that they don’t understand the gospel. The problem is that they know they will suffer persecution from their own people if they become a Christian. Of course this is a biblical principle that is universally true. In 2 Timothy 3:12 we read, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” It is sometimes good for us as Americans to ask ourselves this question – “How have I suffered persecution by those around me because of my strong testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ?” My guess is that many of us can’t remember the last time we suffered any persecution because of our faith. Please pray that Mr. Sok will surrender his will to the will of the Lord and that he will be saved.
As I look at this picture that was taken Sunday morning, I am reminded of the new life and the hope that has been given to so many in Cambodia because of the gospel. I know very well the living conditions of this young girl. Humanly speaking, she and her four siblings have nothing in their lives worth living for. They live in an impoverished family just about a block from our church. It is not uncommon for us to see her wearing the same outfit for an entire week. Yet, in Christ, she is full of joy and contentment. Indeed, many of our folks are poor in the things of this world but rich in faith. Thank you for your investment in the souls of Cambodia. It is making a difference in the lives of many.
It is truly a blessing to see the deaf of Cambodia being exposed to the gospel. According to the Ethnologue Languages of the World: Fifteenth Edition, there are approximately 85,000 deaf in Cambodia and are considered to be an “unreached people group.” We thank the Lord for His leading in helping our folks to gain access and favor with the deaf community in Phnom Penh. This past Sunday we had at least 9 deaf adults in the morning service. We hope to see a deaf children’s class started this year. Please pray that Grace, Sina, and others who are reaching out to the deaf will have wisdom to know best how to disciple these young believers and equip them to live for the Lord as well as effectively reach out to their own people.
Somphors is a faithful deaf lady who was won to the Lord several months ago by Miss Grace and Sina. As the only Christian in her Buddhist family she has been ridiculed for “abandoning her own religion” and following the “foreigners God.” I remember several months ago her mother trying to pressure her to leave Phnom Penh and return to her village that is located many hours from Phnom Penh. She explained to her mom that she did not want to leave Phnom Penh because for the first time in her life she had found joy. She has been faithfully witnessing to her roommate, Sopheap, who is also deaf. Recently Grace and Sina have had the opportunity to witness more thoroughly to Sopheap as well as her deaf co-worker, Channa. Please pray that Sopheap and Channa will be saved soon.
Bou Kong is a faithful teen boy in the Phnom Penh church. This photo was taken as he was visiting some children on his route. A couple of months ago he shared a blessing during our Sunday evening service and told of the joy he receives from serving the Lord. He shared that it is the highlight of his week when he is able to attend church, even though he is often beaten by his mother when he returns home for attending the church. He told us all that it is worth enduring the persecution to have the opportunity to fellowship with his Christian friends. Please pray for Bou Kong as he continues to let his light shine for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the past month we have had the opportunity to report to folks in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio. It has been a blessing to get reacquainted with old friends as well as meet new ones. We have been amazed at God’s goodness as He continues to provide for our needs through His people. We are grateful for the gestures of kindness that we have met along the way and are reminded that God desires to use each of us to encourage others. We want to express a special thank you to those of you who have helped us through our travels over the past weeks. You have been an encouragement to us.
We had the opportunity to visit the Creation Museum this past month and were reminded of the power of God and His glory as it is declared through His creation. If you have the opportunity to visit this museum I recommend that you be certain to avail yourself of the special presentation in the planetarium. It is simply amazing to behold.
We snapped this picture of one of the displays in the museum. Sadly, we are seeing many churches in the United States that were at one time strong soul-winning churches compromise in an attempt to attract more people. One of the tragic consequences of compromise in the pulpit is the effect that luke-warm preaching has on the families who are a part of that church. Speaking of ancient Israel the Lord says, “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” (Ezekiel 22:26) This passage could apply to many of the churches in the United States as well. Coming from Cambodia where we have scores of young people who have been saved and are living for the Lord, it is disconcerting to see the lack of young people in so many churches here in America. In fact, it is scary to think about the long-term ramifications for the church in America. This past week we spoke with a mother of two teenagers who told us, “My church is doctrinally sound but it is so lifeless and boring. The pastor uses a monotone voice when he preaches and never seems to get excited about the truth he is preaching. I am afraid that my children will stop going to church as soon as they reach 18.” If you are part of a church that has a pastor and leaders who preach truth and are trying to lead the church to stand for the Word of God, I would encourage you to get behind them. Thankfully we have been blessed to be in some of these types of churches on our short visit to the States.
Another consequence of compromising churches is that we are actually seeing churches not only close their doors, but sell their properties to pagan religions. We have been shocked to be in large cities over the past month and see church buildings that at one time were the meeting place for solid Baptist churches, but that have now become the meeting place of religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and the Sikh faith. This happens, in part, because the church fails to reach out to the changing demographics of its community. Over time ethnic minorities begin moving into the neighborhood and the church is either ill-equipped, or for whatever reason, unwilling to take the gospel to these people. The result is that many large cities in America are quickly being taken over by false religion.
We were at a meeting this past week in Michigan and saw this Buddhist temple. This property was, until recently, a Baptist church and was no doubt built with the sacrificial offerings of its members. This property not only has a very nice church building but includes a parsonage and an educational building as well. It is now a Buddhist temple. One has to wonder what happened.
This large church building was at one time a Baptist church but recently closed its doors. It was part of a group that sends Baptist missionaries all around the world yet they failed to reach the changing demographics of their own community. This building was sold to the Muslims and is now used as a Mosque. Within this particular state there have been at least three other Baptist churches sold to the Muslims and one Baptist church building sold to the Sikhs in recent years.
It was, however, a real joy to be able to report to the church family at Fellowship Baptist church in a small city in Iowa. This church has faithfully partnered with us since 1992. It was such a blessing to see many folks we knew as well as the faces of many new folks who have been reached over the past several years.
Several years ago the demographics of their city began to drastically change. Rather than ignore the spiritual needs all around them, they began reaching out to the various ethnic groups that were moving into their community. They not only have a ministry reaching out to those who speak Spanish but they have also started a ministry targeting Karen refugees from Burma. It was a blessing to be able to fellowship with some of these folks while we were there. We were especially blessed to get to know Naw and Crist (two teen girls in the front row) and to see their heart for the Lord. Thank the Lord for those who have taken the time and effort to cultivate a relationship with this people group and see them reached with the gospel.
We had the opportunity to speak to the Junior church young people at Fellowship Baptist as well. It was wonderful to see the workers lovingly and effectively reaching out to such an ethnically diverse group of Karen, Sudanese, Hispanic, and Caucasian children. We were especially touched by the evident love of one of the bus workers, a lady in her 70’s, as she spoke to us about her bus kids.
It was a blessing to be able to have the high school senior class from our home church visit the ministries in Cambodia for the past two weeks. This is a great group of young people who desire to do right and to serve the Lord with their lives. We received good reports of how they were used by God to encourage some of the young people in Cambodia while they were there. They will be boarding a plane to return to Long Beach, California about the time that you receive this blog.
Several of the seniors sang a special during the Sunday morning service and were a blessing to many. I believe that God is working on the hearts of several of these young people in regard to missions. Please help pray that God will continue to send forth laborers from Pacific Baptist Church to Southeast Asia.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason