January 10, 2016
Psalm 103:2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” As we closed out year 2015 it was encouraging to take time during our final church service of the year and reflect upon God’s blessing in each of our lives. Many of the folks shared testimonies during the service of how God had worked in their hearts over the past twelve months. It was a wonderful way to close out the old year and bring in the new.
I was out visiting a shut-in this past week and ran across this sign that was posted on the alley wall leading to her house. It is an advertisement for a fortuneteller. Sadly, many people in this part of the world are held captive to their superstitions and to the fear that the “god of this world” constantly inflicts upon them. This sign is posted in a part of town that is filled with some of the poorest of the poor here in Phnom Penh. It would almost seem as though that is their targeted client. However, it is not just the poor who fall prey to the deception that their world-view facilitates; many wealthy people here are seeking for peace, wealth, and good health. In doing so they allow each aspect of their lives to be dictated by their daily horoscope. Additionally, they seek the guidance of palm readers, fortune tellers, and witch doctors. I have met many people here who barely make enough money to survive another day but, out of desperation, take the small amount of money they do make and, rather than feeding their children, visit the fortuneteller. The feeling of spiritual desperation and hopelessness is not restricted to any certain social or economic group. Indeed, many of those who the world deems “wealthy” and whom surround us on a daily basis are, in fact, “…without Christ…, having no hope, and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) One of the families who was reached with the gospel over the past several months told me of their long search for peace and spiritual freedom from the power of darkness that permeated their lives. When I asked them how much they estimated they had spent on religious ceremonies, counseling, fortune tellers, and witch doctors in order to get the “help” they were seeking their answer was, “We have spent between $80,000 and $90,000 over the past five years.” This particular family has been brought to physical poverty after selling land, possessions, and taking out loans in order to get try and find peace from demonic oppression. Now that they are saved they eagerly and enthusiastically share their testimony of spiritual liberty with anyone who is willing to listen to them!
Our ministry theme for this new year is “We Have Seen a Great Light.” It is based upon Isaiah 9:2 that states, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Thank you for doing your part to help the Light of the Gospel shine forth in this spiritually dark part of the world. Please continue to pray for our team and the national workers as we strive to go to areas of this country that are in desperate need of the gospel. As you pray, please keep in mind the truth of 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 which states, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
At our last service of 2015 we enjoyed not only hearing many testimonies but also hearing various families get up and sing special music. This next year we are hoping to equip more folks to play instruments and sing so that, as we continue to expand, there will always be those who can help lead in the music ministry.
Please help us pray about a new ministry outreach that we are hoping to start perhaps as early as February. For some time now some of our workers have been soul-winning and visiting an industrial part of town known as Stung MeanChey. Many of the folks who live there are well below the poverty line as established by the local authorities. Some of them have had unfortunate circumstances throughout their lives that have contributed to their present situation. For others it has been slothfulness and addictions to various sins that has kept them trapped living in less than desirable conditions. It seems that Stung MeanChey is overrun with non-governmental agencies; some are of a religious nature, but not all. Unfortunately some of these N.G.O. groups perpetuate a feeling of entitlement and contribute to the confusion that accompanies a “social gospel.” We have a number of adult contacts who live in the area and who are presently attending our Phnom Penh church off and on. However, most of them are not faithful and none of them attend more than a Sunday morning service. Likewise, we have perhaps 25 or so children who live in the area who would eventually stop coming to the Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry and be merged into this new work. If these folks are ever going to grow and be faithful to the Lord and a local church the way that they ought, it would seem necessary to have a church closer to their homes. Starting this new ministry will hopefully enable us to more effectively disciple the adult believers as well as free up some space here in Phnom Penh. We are presently looking for a location to meet as well as recruiting national workers who will volunteer to lead this new ministry. Some of our missionaries will play an auxiliary role but, Lord willing, the work will be led by the nationals. I look forward to providing you with new details in the weeks to come as they are available.
We are constantly evaluating the effectiveness of many of the things we do here and make changes when they seem necessary. Of course, one of the main thrusts of the ministry here is not just winning folks to Christ but teaching them God’s Word and equipping them to lead their own people. In order to more effectively disciple our new believers we began having small groups on Sunday evenings. We will do this for 6 weeks at a time. After the 6 weeks are up we will return to “regular” Sunday evening services for a few weeks then return to another 6 weeks of small groups. We are only on our second week but the groups seem to be effective so far. Each of the groups meet here at the church with the exception of the children’s group. It meets across the street in the Vong’s home. At this time we have a children’s group, a teen group, a single’s group, a married couple’s group, and a group for people whose primary language is English. I lead our couple’s group. This past Sunday evening we had 9 couples present. This is an exciting group to lead and I think it has a lot of potential should we determine that we want to continue having small groups in the future. We have already seen the unsaved husband of one of our ladies become a part of the group. Lord willing he will be saved because of the things that he hears and experiences in this group. Pray that we will have wisdom to discern what will be of the most spiritual benefit to these young believers. It is possible that we will split the teen group in the future, as well as start an evangelistic small group.
I first made reference to Ta Son in our post on December 6th. (https://goodnewsfromafar.com/2015/12/06/december-6-2015/) In our post on December 23rd I mentioned that he had accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. (https://goodnewsfromafar.com/2015/12/23/december-23-2015-2/) It has been a blessing to disciple him and see him begin to more clearly understand his new faith. At 80 years old his mind is still sharp. This week as I met with him for discipleship time we discussed various topics. I especially focused on the importance of him being a spiritual light for the Lord right there in his own village. He agreed that his village is filled with darkness and that he is burdened to see his friends saved as well. As we talked about the changes that have taken place in his heart since he has been saved he shared with me a regret. The conversation went something like this, “I regret all the years that I sacrificed chickens to the devil.” (That’s a lot of chickens over the past 80 years!) When I asked him why he regretted sacrificing them he told me, “I regret killing those chickens because I have no idea if they went to Heaven or to Hell after I killed them.” Now, that response might seem strange or perhaps funny but he was as serious as he could be. As a new believer who had only known the deception of the devil and false religion for 80 years he still has a lot to learn about so many things. Imagine coming to find out that virtually everything you have thought was truth your entire life was actually lies…how would you feel? I had the opportunity to share with him two truths that he understood right away: 1) The real reason why he should regret sacrificing the chickens to the devil is because the devil is a liar, is not god, is the enemy of God, and can’t do anything to help us nor does he desire to. He simply wants to hold people captive to fear and vain traditions. His goal is simply to rob God of the glory that is due Him alone and to “steal, kill, and to destroy” the lives of those whom God has created in His own image.” (John 10:10) 2) Chickens do not have eternal souls or spirits. When they are dead – they are dead. Men and women alone are created with a soul and spirit that will dwell forever either in Heaven or in Hell. This was brand new information to him. As I taught him this truth I could see a “light” switch on in his eyes and he got it. He seemed to be very relieved that he was not responsible for possibly sending chickens to hell! 🙂 Please continue to pray for Ta Son’s friends as well as other contacts in Elephant Den Village whom we are trying to reach with the gospel: Bonny (53 year old man), Sarum (lady in her 40s), and Sarin (23 year old man), and the following individuals who are in their 70’s or near to it – Mr. Thy, Mr. Prouen, Mr. Wan, and Mrs. Date.
One of a missionary’s primary responsibilities is to train national men to lead their families and to lead their own people. There is nothing that brings more joy to our hearts than to see national believers who have been saved through the ministry here grow in the Lord and begin to get a burden for their own people. Brother Sinath is one of the men who brings us much joy. For some time now Sinath has traveled to his home village two hours away from Phnom Penh a couple times a week in order to share the gospel with the lost and to disciple the saved. He recently led Sal to Christ after working with her for several weeks. Please pray for Sal as she grows in the Lord. Sinath and his adult daughter, Srey Nech (pictured on the far left) have become very close to this family and have been such a spiritual encouragement to Sal since her salvation. Please pray also for Sal’s husband, Vorn, to be saved. It seems that he is very close but is still hesitating to turn from his idols to the living God. He has told Sinath that he wants to be saved but not yet. It is my guess that he is wanting to watch and see what happens in Sal’s life first. This is a somewhat common response. Pray that Sinath will have wisdom and direction as he seeks to win Vorn to Christ.
Last month while out soul-winning in a village near his home village Sinath ran into one of his former high school teachers, Mr. Tha. Though it was 30 years ago, Mr. Tha remembered Sinath and they were able to strike up a friendship. Sinath gave him some tracts as well as a “Do You Know God?” booklet and asked him to read the materials. When he gave him our tract entitled “One Minute After You Die,” he responded immediately by saying, “This is what I have been wondering – What will happen to me when I die?” That was about three weeks ago. I’m happy to report to you that Mr. Tha trusted Christ with Sinath yesterday afternoon! Please pray that Sinath will have wisdom as he seeks to disciple Mr. Tha.
It was a blessing last night to complete our fourth and final pre-marital counseling session with Kosal and Phalley. Lord willing they will be married here at the church in less than two weeks! It is a great joy to see their desire to live for the Lord and to be used for his honor and glory. Kosal teaches English in one of the top English schools here in Cambodia and is very gifted by the Lord in so many areas. Phalley, though saved less than two years, has shown unusual spiritual desire and fervency. We expect this young couple to be used mightily to see others come to the Lord and discipled. Please pray that their wedding will be honoring to Christ and that their unsaved family members will agree to attend. They will both be sharing their personal testimonies during the wedding ceremony.
Some of you were aware of the accident that happened last week when Annabelle and her walker fell down twelve very hard cement stairs at their home and she landed on her head. We had a couple of very tense hours when we didn’t know for sure if she was going to be okay or if there was serious bleeding on the brain. Though she does have a skull fracture, it appears there will be no lasting damage! Thank you for praying for her and please continue to pray that she will have a total healing!
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason