July 12, 2015
We just completed our three day Youth Conference here in Phnom Penh. It was a wonderful time of preaching and fellowship with the young people. Friday and Saturday we met at the church but we rented an auditorium at a local university for our Sunday morning service. It was really special to see the folks in this setting. The theme for this year’s conference was “Our God is Greater.” All of the teaching, preaching, and testimonies revolved around our theme.
Although English is not their first language, the young people did a great job of learning their song for the glory of the Lord. You can click on the video below to hear an excerpt from their special song today.
We were blessed by our teen girls group. This was their first time to sing in a huge auditorium and up on such a high platform. I know that they were scared, but they sang their very best for the Lord. They are a special group of young people! We are thankful for Mrs. Has, Joy, and Susanna who worked so hard to help them prepare for their special songs.
Likewise, the young men’s group did a wonderful job singing the song that they prepared. We are thankful for Brother Kosal and his talent to translate songs from English into Khmer. These young men not only sang their very best for the Lord, but they also live lives that are a good testimony.
You can click the link below to hear a short excerpt from the young men’s and the young ladies special music.
It was a blessing to have a baby dedication Sunday morning during the Youth Conference. Two young couples dedicated their children to the Lord. The couple on the left, Ly and Chooth, were both saved through the ministry of Pacific Baptist Church. Ly’s parents (standing on either side of them) were both saved through the soul-winning efforts of the church as well. In recent months Ly has been getting serious about his walk with the Lord. Please pray for his continued growth. Ly and Chooth named their daughter Hannah. The second couple, Vannak and Samantha, dedicated their twins, David and Annabelle, to the Lord as well. Vannak and his mother, Ya (standing on the far right), were saved through the outreach of those in the church as well. Samantha came to know the Lord in Long Beach through the ministry of Pacific Baptist of Long Beach. Both of these couples represent the fruit that is remaining to your account if you have been investing in and praying for the work here in Cambodia!
Friday and Saturday we had several funny skits that taught spiritual truths. Sunday the skit focused on the fact that it really does not matter who we know here on the earth. The most important Person we can know is God! Brother Bounna and the skit team did a fantastic job this year. I know they spent countless hours practicing and preparing! Their efforts helped to create a fun atmosphere for the young people. It was good for them to have the opportunity to see clean humor that also taught a moral lesson.
Brother San shared some of his personal testimony. It was during our Youth Conference last year that he and his wife, Som, really got serious about living for the Lord. San shared that the day came when his father, the village chief, forced him to choose between Jesus Christ and a relationship with him. Through tears San shared that he loved the Lord but he also loved his father. He did not want to have to choose – he wanted to have them both. Ultimately he chose to follow the Lord’s plan for his life. This resulted in his father cutting him out of the inheritance. San challenged the young people to live for the Lord no matter what obstacles they face because “Our God is Greater!”
We were blessed to have 9 folks visiting from a “Creative Access nation” not far from here. They do not enjoy the freedoms that most of you who are reading this blog enjoy. Sen shared a testimony of going to jail for three days because she handed out tracts and shared the gospel with her lost friends. She challenged the young people to use the freedom they have been given to do as much for the Lord as they can. We thank God for her sweet and humble spirit. She is a challenge to us all to do more for the sake of the gospel. Pray for one young man in their group who shared a testimony during the Youth Conference of how he had been challenged to return to his country and share the gospel with his lost parents.
Brother Vannak shared a testimony of important decisions he has made since choosing to live for the Lord. It was just prior to his fourth year of University that he felt the call of God to serve in the ministry. Believing he was doing what God called him to do, he walked away from his University studies and moved ahead preparing for ministry. Through tears he shared that his father disowned him because of his decision to put Christ first but that most of his family has since come to Christ. This is due, in part, because of his decision to do right no matter what consequences he faced. Vannak preached our opening message for the conference on Friday evening on the topic of “Living for the most important thing.” It was, without a doubt, the best message I have ever heard him preach. I know that it spoke to the hearts of the young people in a powerful way. We thank God for Vannak and his family. Please continue to pray for our national leaders to have courage to live for the Lord.
Brother Keo preached a good message about the vanity of living for anything other than the Lord. He covered his face in cream to symbolize young people who live their lives consumed with trying to be beautiful and popular. It was a good message that we will not soon forget.
Brother Bounna invested many hours in preparation for the conference. He and his wife, Thy, are definitely a gift from the Lord to the young people of Cambodia. I am personally challenged by his energy and zeal for the things of the Lord. Saturday evening he preached a good message reminding the young people of the true meaning of the gospel and encouraging them to be faithful to the Lord.
Brother Sinath came to the Lord at the age of 42. As a young man he never had the opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the gospel. Sinath shared a good testimony encouraging the young people to live for the Lord from a young age. He shared of his regret for living in sin for so many years before he came to know the truth. Sinath and his wife, Sopheap, are great examples to the young people of how Christians should live. We thank God for him and his willingness to be transparent with the young people during his testimony.
Kanha shared a testimony about the decisions she has made in her life after salvation and how those decisions have shaped her present life. Two and a half years ago when Kanha and Man desired to get married, they sought permission from their parents. Man’s mother had already accepted Christ and readily agreed to welcome Kanha into the family. However, though Kanha’s parents agreed to give their consent to the wedding, they placed some conditions upon Kanha: Have a Christian wedding at the church, but when the wedding is over, return to the village and participate in a village wedding as well. We all agreed that a village ceremony was important. However, Kanha informed her parents that she had a Biblical conviction against serving alcoholic beverages at her wedding and therefore there would be no alcohol whatsoever as long as she and Man were at the ceremony. Kahna agreed to welcome all the guests and honor her parents, as is the custom, but then they would leave and her parents could continue the party as they saw fit. This was not acceptable to her mother and so she was given an ultimatum: Choose your Jesus and the Bible or choose your family. I was actually sitting at the table with Kanha and her mother when the ultimatum was given. Kanha, true to her convictions, told her mother that she loved her but that she could not disobey God’s Word nor her conscience. Her mother then said, “Then you are no longer my daughter.” It was a very emotional meeting for Kahna and I know that she was hurt deeply. She shared that for more than two years she has not been allowed to see her parents or have any contact with them. She encouraged the teen girls to live for the Lord and not for the culture or to merely please those around them. Thankfully within the past few weeks, it seems that Kanha’s mom is slowly softening and has allowed them to visit the family home. Please pray for Man and Kanha to have wisdom, courage, and love as they seek to win the hearts of her lost family.
This year we were able to have split sessions for the young people. Brother Vong taught the teen boys while Mrs. Vong taught the teen girls. Both sessions were very practical and spoke to the hearts of the young people. Brother Esposito spoke to the group that attended from a “Creative Access” country not far from here. Next year we will plan to have more split sessions that can address topics that are age specific.
Brother Bounna organized several games for the young people to play during the conference. You can click on the video below to see one of the team competitions that took place during one of our sessions. The kids had a lot of fun!
It was a blessing to see some of the ladies up on the roof cooking throughout the conference. Mrs. Keo did a great job of organizing the meals and recruiting ladies to help. We were specifically blessed to see Vanny, the lady in the top picture in the pink skirt, come to help cook during her lunch break from work. There are so many people who helped make the conference a great one and we are grateful!
Music played an important role in the conference. In past years Debbie has been the only piano player. This year if was wonderful to have Susanna help play for congregational singing and special music. God has gifted her in the area of music and it it a blessing to see her using her gifts for the Lord. We will often hear her up in the auditorium helping one of the national girls with their piano lesson. Thank God for those who are willing to invest in the next generation!
It was a blessing to be able to have our own transportation this year. The people gave a sacrificial offering and combined with other gifts we had enough to purchase three new tuk tuks. We want to thank those of you who participated to help make that happen! They will be used, Lord willing, to help bring many people to Christ.
The young people enjoyed a couple of hours at a local amusement park. Many of the young people had never been to the park and were obviously terrified on the rides. Others were, no doubt, terrified but put on a brave face. I think that overall they enjoyed trying out the rides and having fun with their friends. I only heard of a couple cases of kids throwing up!
I did not go into the park but stayed out with the tuk tuks. While sitting and waiting I observed these three children pull up to the entrance and excitedly park their bikes. They began pulling their change out of their pockets to give to the attendant so they could purchase tickets for the park. However, much to their disappointment, they were two dollars short and were turned away. They stood there talking amongst themselves trying to figure out a way to make another two dollars so that they could come back and ride the rides. What a joy it was to be able to meet them, give them a tract, and pay the two dollars on their behalf. The smiles on their faces were priceless. We pray that this small gesture of love will be used by God to one day help bring them to Christ.
One of the tools God used to challenge us all during the Youth Conference was a video entitled “Letter from Hell.” This video, created by Brother Vong, Brother Vannak, and Brother Man, is a fictitious letter that was written by a young man who died and went to Hell. The letter was written to his friend who was a Christian, but had never shared his faith with him. Many of you who follow our blog can speak Khmer and so I have included the video below. If you would like to watch the “Letter from Hell” in the Khmer language please click on the video.
One of the huge blessings at church today was seeing Somphoahs and Nigah stand together and fellowship. Nigah is blind and Somphoahs is deaf. However, they met here at church and have become friends. Though they can’t communicate with each other very effectively, they both understand the language of love – it is a love that the world does not offer them but that they have found in Christ. I remember one Sunday several months ago when a truck had dumped a huge load of sand right in front of the entrance to our church. The folks had to climb up and over the sand pile in order to get to the stair case. Sompoahs saw Nigah approaching the sand pile and quickly went to help lead her safely over the top. That was a touching moment for all of us! Since then they have both had a deep affection for each other. Please pray for Sompoahs as she is facing persecution from her unsaved family for steps of commitment that she has recently taken.
Many of you heard me tell the story of Grandma Long when we were in the states a few months ago. Before accepting Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour about eight months ago, she was a Buddhist nun. She is a lady who loves the Lord and is grateful for her salvation. It was a blessing to see her in church this morning along with three of her adult children. Two of the children and their families live in a village about two hours from Phnom Penh. Brother Keo and Sinath are working closely with them and trying to make sure they understand the gospel. The other adult child who was at church today lives in Stung Mean Chey district not far from our church. Lord willing, Sinath and I will go to meet with her on Wednesday morning. Please pray that her heart will be open to the gospel.
We were able to take the group from the “Creative Access” country to visit the Toul Sleng prison camp here in Phnom Penh. It is a gruesome place that serves as a reminder of the depravity of man. There were approximately 16,000 Cambodians tortured and murdered at this camp during the Khmer Rouge regime. Of course that only represents a very small fraction of the several million people who were murdered during the 4 years that they controlled this country (1975-1979). There were only seven people who survived Toul Sleng. These children were amongst the survivors.
Our hearts were saddened as we saw pictures of the children who were recruited to be soldiers for the Khmer Rouge. Indeed, the devil desires to destroy the hearts and minds of young people. But we also realize that God loves young people and they can be saved and live for Him! Thank you for doing your part to help support and pray for the hundreds of children who are being reached through the ministry here in Cambodia!
Please continue to pray for the fifty or so young people who are a part of our Ta Skov village ministry as they grieve over the loss of Theary. Theary is the second teenager who was saved through the ministry here but who has been tragically killed. (Click this link to read the update about Theary’s death – https://goodnewsfromafar.com/2015/07/05/july-5-2015/) Mesa died nearly three years ago after falling out of a tree while picking fruit that he planned to sell to help support his family. Mesa and Theary both loved the Lord and tried to the best of their ability to share the gospel with those around them. Thank you for your involvement in helping to reach the people of Southeast Asia, both young and old alike.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason