February 14, 2016
February 14, 2016
We had a great service this morning here at PBCPP! I am constantly amazed at God’s goodness in our midst. Acts 15:14 says, “…God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.” It is evident that He desires to have a people here in Cambodia who worship and glorify His name and He is changing hearts in order to have that happen. One of the objectives of this report is to share with you some of the things that God is doing and to thank you for having a part in the work here in Southeast Asia.
This morning I preached on “Five Reasons Why a Spirit-Filled Christian Should Rejoice.” There are, no doubt, many truths in our life that ought to cause us to have joy, but I highlighted the following five reasons: 1) We are no longer a child of the devil and a servant to sin. 2) We serve a living God Who desires to have fellowship with us. 3) Our names are written down in Heaven and our salvation is secure. 4) Jesus has promised to come again and receive us unto Himself. 5) Jesus has commanded us to rejoice. The response of the congregation to these truths was encouraging. We are serving in a country where most “churches” are either stoic and dead, or dancing in the aisles. Thank God that His church here in Phnom Penh is neither. In the more than 30 years that we’ve been with the Cambodian people, I don’t remember a church service when there were more “amens.” The people truly made it easy to preach to them the Word of God.
As I think of the many folks who have been saved and who are being discipled here in Cambodia, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Romans 15:14-15 that says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” We see three important truths in these verses that are reflected in the lives of so many of the national believers in the work here. Truly GOD IS THE SOURCE OF THEIR HOPE – they have very little else. THEY ARE ABOUNDING IN HOPE – by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit working in their hearts. THEY ARE ADMONISHING ONE ANOTHER in the things of God – on a daily basis many of our folks are actively discipling their own people as well as leading new folks to Christ.
It is always a blessing to have a full house but there is also a great sense of responsibility. Whenever there are this many people gathered together in one place here in Cambodia there are always distractions but it was a blessing that they were minimal.
Some of the folks from Psa Tricht sang a new song this morning. They did a great job. It was such a blessing to see them learn a song that none of us had ever heard. Debbie was scrambling this morning to learn it on the piano. Thank God for their desire to do their best for the Lord! God is doing an amazing work in the lives of the folks in Psa Tricht. This past week they spearheaded an evangelistic outreach to a new village named TraBang 4. This new village is very large and it appears that it has no gospel witness whatsoever. During our Saturday evening men’s prayer meeting a couple of the men reported that they have found a family in the village that seems to be open to the gospel. PRAY FOR BROTHER SAN AND SOME OF THE NATIONAL BELIEVERS AS THEY SEEK TO SATURATE TRABANG 4 WITH THE GOSPEL.
During the service this morning we enjoyed hearing several testimonies that related directly to the morning message. Sane and his family were saved out of Islam and have truly been radically changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. He shared of the joy and peace that his family now enjoys because of their salvation. He also expressed his gratitude to those who have made it possible for his family to hear the gospel. Not long ago Sane’s father, Ra, was sharing a testimony and spoke of his hatred for me ten years ago as he saw Kosal and myself in his village teaching about Jesus Christ. At that time he was preparing to become an Imam. Though he hated Christians and Christianity he still encouraged his son to go study with us – in hopes that maybe he would learn English or something “useful” from the foreigner. It was truly the power of the gospel that caused Ra, his wife, and his three children to be saved from the power of darkness and to become children of the living God. PRAY FOR SANE, AND OUR OTHER SINGLE ADULT MEN, TO REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE LORD.
Tara and his wife, SreyMohm, shared a testimony based on Colossians 1:12-14 which states, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” They spoke of the freedom they now have in Christ because of the power of the Gospel. Thank God for the teen boy here in the church who initially reached out to them and showed the love of Christ at a time in their lives when they were in special need. Tara’s four children are also saved and growing in the Lord. Bro. Bounna and Thy are investing into their lives and the growth is evident. In fact, their adult son, Hout, and their 18 year old son, Narin, followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism this morning. Tara is a university professor and has around 900 students between all of the various classes he teaches each week. He has a desire to let his light shine through his example but also by clearly speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ during his classes. PRAY FOR TARA AND SREYMOHM TO BE FAITHFUL AS THEY GROW IN THEIR CHRISTIAN LIFE. They recently asked me if I would begin meeting with them as a couple each week for a time of discipleship and we are hoping to begin meeting together in March.
Sal and Vorn were led to Christ by Bro. Sinath and the folks who labor in Prey Bang village. They are the first married couple to come to Christ from Pom Doll village. I asked them to share a testimony of what God has done in their lives since being saved. Sal is a spunky little lady who is full of energy and joy! Vorn is more reserved but his love for Christ is evident. What a blessing it was for us to all hear Sal share of the joy her family now experiences because of the love of Jesus Christ and because of the hours and labor invested by the national believers to win her family to Christ. This couple followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism immediately following their testimony this morning. PRAY FOR SAL AND VORN TO CONTINUE TO GROW IN THE LORD AS BRO. SINATH DISCIPLES THEM.
SoiNy followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism this morning. She was led to Christ by another group some time ago but was never Scripturaly baptized. She has been attending our church for a few weeks now and came to the conviction that she ought to be baptized by immersion. She lives in Stung MeanChey district and will likely become a part of that new outreach when it starts. PRAY THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO FIND AN ACCEPTABLE LOCATION IN STUNG MEANCHEY THAT WOULD ALLOW US TO START A NEW WORK.
I first wrote about Den last September when he visited church for the first time in his life. (https://goodnewsfromafar.com/2015/09/28/september-28-2015/) After our service that morning I asked him what he thought of the service and this was his response: “My religion is a lot different than what I saw today. I really love what I saw. I understood the preaching and I agree with the things that you said. You know, in my religion, I am never allowed to mix with the rich people. Because I am poor and dark-skinned I am not welcome to eat with them either. However, today I see everyone, rich and poor, enjoying food together.” I asked him what was keeping him from accepting Christ and he responded, “Nothing is keeping me from being saved. I just need to understand it a bit more. I now believe in Jesus 50%.” I encouraged him to accept Christ and assured him that people will be praying for his salvation. I requested that you pray for Den to be saved – I’m thrilled to report that he accepted Christ two weeks ago and followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism this morning! If you faithfully prayed for his salvation you had a part in seeing him saved. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR DEN AND HIS WIFE, POV, AS THEY LIVE FOR THE LORD IN CHUMGA VILLAGE.
It was a great blessing to have Chea and Ny in the service this morning. We were referred to them by a national pastor in another ministry. They are not yet saved but appear to be very open to the Lord. Debbie and I had the opportunity to visit with them in their home twice this past week. They have a five year old son named Hoit and she is expecting a baby daughter in two months. PRAY FOR CHEA AND NY TO UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL AND THEIR NEED TO BE SAVED AND TO COME TO CHRIST! This week Bro. and Mrs. Vong are planning to invite them to their home for dinner and fellowship. Mrs. Vong is also expecting a baby daughter in two months so they have something in common…I’ve decided that my wife is not allowed to be part of that expectant mother click. 🙂
Grandma Rum is 83 years old. Bro. Sinath and some of the nationals have been reaching out to her and she professes to believe on Jesus as her Saviour. We are not certain that she truly understands the gospel but since we can not see the heart we can only go by what she says. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” PRAY THAT THERE WILL BE SOME DEFINITE FRUIT IN HER LIFE THAT DEMONSTRATES SHE HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON IN CHRIST.
You can click on the short video clip below to hear one of our opening songs from this morning. It is always a joy to hear the folks sing. I have no doubt that people several blocks away can hear them sing! I’m sure that some of the neighbors get annoyed. Others have perhaps tuned us out. But we hope that even the singing will be used to plant seeds of the gospel in the hearts of those who are open. The songs we sing represent a vast contrast to the music to which the world is accustomed as our songs speak of hope, love, forgiveness, and freedom from the devil. I have heard some neighbors describe the singing as “beautiful.” I’m sure others might offer a difference perspective…
Perhaps the most important time of the week in any church is when they meet together for corporate prayer. Each Saturday afternoon some of our Phnom Penh men meet at the church for prayer. The men in Psa Tricht village also meet for prayer. In addition to men’s prayer we meet together as a church each Wednesday morning at 6:30 for prayer. There is also a short time of prayer during our mid-week service. However, I believe that our church is very weak in the area of prayer and we are working on changing this. This change must take place in the lives of those who lead before it becomes a part of the church as a whole. WOULD YOU PLEASE PRAY THAT AS LEADERS WE WILL BE PEOPLE OF PRAYER AND THAT A CULTURE OF PERSONAL AND CORPORATE PRAYER WILL BE FIRMLY ESTABLISHED IN OUR MINISTRIES HERE IN CAMBODIA.
It was great to see some of the ladies joyfully cutting vegetables up on the roof Saturday evening as they prepared for the Sunday noon meal. Kahna does a fantastic job of rallying a group of ladies around her as they serve the Lord and their church through the ministry of hospitality. I THANK GOD FOR OUR LADIES AND FOR THEIR SPIRIT OF JOYFUL SERVICE FOR THE LORD.
The fruit of the ladies service for the Lord was delicious food and great fellowship after the service! Many ladies woke up at 4:00 a.m. today in order to spend time with the Lord and then to cook food for the church. Kanha and her workers always prepare great food but we would never have enough for the entire church were it not for so many of the ladies preparing food at home as well and bringing it to the church. THANK THE LORD FOR FAITHFUL LADIES IN THE CHURCH WHO COOK, TEACH THE CHILDREN, AND SERVE IN THE NURSERY EACH WEEK!
We also have so many folks who diligently practice for special music each week. I was working down in my office Saturday afternoon and heard our English ensemble rehearsing upstairs. It sounded so beautiful I just had to go upstairs and watch them practice. They are learning the song “Lift Up the Cross.” Lord willing they will sing this song in a couple weeks in English. We also plan to have them sing it in Khmer for Resurrection Day in a couple of months. (Hint for Bro. Kosal – I’ll be asking you to translate it!! 🙂 ) The words of this song are so great – THEY REMIND US THAT IT IS THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST THAT IS TO BE LIFTED UP! Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) Praise the Lord that He was lifted up on the cross to pay the price for our sins. It is our aim to lift up the cross before the lost and dying around us in this dark nation. You can click on the video below to hear a short portion of this song.
After the English ensemble completed their practice time I thanked them for their time and reminded them of how important their English songs are for the church. While many in the service do not understand English, we are teaching them what type of music is appropriate for a Christian. Many of the Khmer churches worldwide are limited to singing only the songs that are in their song book and they’ve been singing the same songs for decades. We remain committed to providing the Khmer church with options of Christ-honoring music that can be greatly used in the churches. I thank God for young men such as Kosal, Man, and Chhay who speak very good English and who are gifted at translating materials for the benefit of their own people. They are a gift to the Cambodian people. We would love to be able to obtain the necessary software and computer interface to be able to score the music that is being translated. It’s not really a necessity for our church to have the written music for these songs because we have musicians who can play without music but many churches don’t have that luxury. If you would like to have a part in purchasing software that would make this happen please get in touch with me.
A few months ago I began going door-to-door in Elephant Den Village (situated about 45 minutes from Phnom Penh). It was a joy to see Ta Son come to Christ. I have written about him in the past. (https://goodnewsfromafar.com/2015/12/23/december-23-2015-2/) This past week I found out that not only is he the oldest member of the village, but that for many years he has been the lay priest responsible for leading the village in Buddhist traditions. God truly led me to “a man of peace” when He directed me to Ta Son. PRAY THAT TA SON WILL GROW IN THE LORD AND IN HIS BURDEN FOR THE LOST ALL AROUND HIM.
Last week as I traveled to the village I prayed that God would lead me to someone who was open to the gospel. I was very excited to arrive to the village and see Ta Son and Sakhan sitting in the middle of the road waiting for me to arrive. Sakhan just moved to Elephant Den Village this past week from a village located about 100 kilometers from Phnom Penh. He became a believer about 20 years ago and, according to his personal testimony, was faithfully serving the Lord for many years until he lost most of his eye site about 3 years ago. He told me that he used to go out soul-winning with his pastor every week and that he really misses being able to reach the lost for Christ. I have been hoping that the door would open for us to be able to start a house-church in Elephant Den and it seems like God may be opening the door for that to happen. Without me even asking him Sakhan told me that I’m free to use his house to start a church if I wanted to! Praise the Lord! PLEASE PRAY THAT WE WILL HAVE CLEAR DIRECTION IN REGARD TO THIS POTENTIAL OPEN DOOR. There is definitely a need to have a church in this location. Elephant Den is located only about 10 minutes from Prak Pnou Village. It would be a blessing to have a church centrally located that could reach out to Elephant Den, Prak Pnou, Law GomBou, and Phnom Brasut Villages. Each of these villages are about 45 minutes from Phnom Penh.
This past week I was able to meet Vanny and Vanna. They both live in Elephant Den Village and have promised to attend our small group once we get it started. They both were apparently involved in some type of church back when they were teenagers but they are not clear on salvation. PRAY THAT VANNY AND VANNA WILL OPEN THEIR HEART TO THE LORD AND BE SAVED.
I had the opportunity to meet with Khith and his wife, Dara this past week for about an hour or so. They both live in Elephant Den Village as well. Dara really seemed to listen to what I had to say and I believe that the Holy Spirit was working in her heart. Khith lived in the United States for about 30 years before returning to Cambodia. He was very friendly as we spoke together about life in America, yet he is confused about salvation. He readily produced a certificate from a Cambodian church in California that certified he was a member. He said he is best friends with the Cambodian pastor. However, he has no idea what salvation is all about. To him, Christianity is just another option from which to choose. He believes that Buddhism is good and Jesus is equally good. This is actually a very common notion in this part of the world. It is in keeping with the tenants of Buddhism to recognize that Jesus was a “good teacher” and a “good moral example.” As I spoke with Khith about what the Bible says in regard to sin, salvation, Heaven, Hell, good works, and the wrath of God, he began to sober up a bit. I could see that he realized his casual approach to Jesus was without Biblical grounds. PRAY THAT KHITH AND DARA WILL COME TO CHRIST. I hope to meet with them again soon if they are willing.
In the next meeting I intend to present to them three options regarding Jesus: JESUS CHRIST IS EITHER A LIAR, A LUNATIC, OR LORD. He claimed to be God – if He is not God then He is a liar. He claimed to be the only Saviour of the world – if He is not the only way to have sins forgiven and get to Heaven then he is a delusional lunatic. By virtue of the claims He made, it is simply impossible for Him to be a mere “good teacher” or “good moral example.”
I’m so happy to see the effort that Sinath and her family make to get to church. They live in Prak Pnou village and Bro. Vong and Bro. Bounna meet with her each Tuesday for discipleship. Each Sunday morning Bro. Hem and Jeremy travel to Prak Pnou to pick them up for church in Phnom Penh. She told me this morning that she is familiar with Elephant Den Village and that if we were able to start a house-church there it would be a great blessing to her family and she would plan to be a part of it. She came to Christ a couple of years ago through the soul-winning efforts of our group that went to Prak Pnou every week.
Our Sunday evening small groups have been going very well. As was our plan, we are returning to regular Sunday evening services for the next few weeks. At the beginning of March we will once again have the small groups. They are proving to be an effective way to disciple our new believers as well as reach out to those who normally do not come to church.
It has been especially good to see new folks attending the English-speaking small group led by Bro. Esposito. It is not geared primarily toward Cambodians but rather toward those who come from other countries but who speak English. So far we have had people from Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and Uzbekistan. There have been several unbelievers in this group as well. Lord willing, we will see these folks reached with the gospel and grounded in their faith. There is a need for a solid work to be established in Phnom Penh for English-speaking expats who are working and living in Cambodia. Two of the men who came from Uzbekistan are working in Phnom Penh and intend to move their wives and children here within the next couple of months once they get themselves established. It would be a wonderful thing if God would allow our church to help meet the void that is in these folks’ lives due to the fact that they are far away from home and working in a strange country. PLEASE HELP PRAY THAT GOD WILL GRANT DIRECTION AND WISDOM AS WE SEEK TO REACH ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLE THROUGH OUR SMALL GROUPS.
It has been very difficult to make close connection in recent months with the employees who work at a local coffee shop that we frequent on our Thursday evening date night. As business has increased they no longer have time to talk like they used to. We see these two young ladies on a regular basis and often have short conversations with them but don’t seem to be able to get much past small talk due to their work schedule. This past week they asked to take a picture with us. Tyany is the shift supervisor and Lakena is an employee. The whole crew calls us by name and is always very friendly. PRAY THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR US TO GET CLOSER TO THE EMPLOYEES OF THIS COFFEE SHOP.
We were blessed to be able to attend a conference out of the country a couple of weeks ago. Bro. Bounna and Thy attended as well. A gift from friends in the States made it possible for us to bring along one of our English-speaking national preachers and his wife. The preaching and teaching was very refreshing and just what we needed. We also met up with team members serving in a Creative Access nation and some of their national believers who speak English. In fact, one of them, Jui, (the young man in the red shirt standing on the left hand side of the picture) surrendered his life to full-time Christian ministry during the conference.
One of the highlights of attending the conference was being able to take part in the Sunday church services at one of the local Baptist churches not far from where the conference was held. I had the opportunity to preach in this church a couple of years ago and am familiar with their ministry. I wanted the national couple, in particular, to see what it is like to be in a church here in Asia that has been established for more than 25 years. They were greatly impacted by the services and have said on several occasions that it was their favorite part of the trip. I had the opportunity on Sunday evening to share a testimony of how the young couple came to Christ and that was an encouragement to the congregation.
Another blessing of attending the conference was the opportunity to see our friend Dr. Ron White. He has been a missionary here in Asia for more than 50 years and has been a great encouragement in our lives and ministry. It was encouraging for our team to meet Dr. Ogawa, a national Japanese pastor who has been pastoring for 49 years. He was reached with the gospel more than 50 years ago by Baptist missionaries from the United States. We want to be certain to disciple the new believers in Cambodia so that they will have a solid foundation that will sustain them many years as well.
I shot a couple minutes of video as we landed back in Phnom Penh. You can click on the video below to see what it looks like to fly into the city.
Thank you for praying for baby Annabelle. She is recovering very well from her fall down the stairs. Please remember her parents, Vannak and Samantha, in your prayers. They are both faithful servants of the Lord here in the ministry and we thank God for them.
I would like to remind you to pray for San and Yom as well. San is heading up the work in Psa Tricht Village and is doing a wonderful job. He has grown in the Lord and in his ability to lead his own people over the past several months. Yom is doing a wonderful job of leading the young ladies in the village ministry. The enemy would love to discourage this young couple because they are being used in a mighty way to see their own people come to Christ. Please continue to pray for San’s father, Pheap, to be saved. Pheap is the only member of the immediate family who has not come to Christ.
I will begin meeting with Chhay for some mentoring and discipleship beginning in March. He recently asked if I could teach him more about how to lead his home and how to serve in the ministry. This couple has become very faithful over the past year and it is exciting to watch. Each Sunday Chhay drives over 140 kilometers from his village in Psa Tricht on a motorcycle to preach to the children in the Prey Bang church. He is scheduled to preach to the adult service in Psa Tricht in a couple of weeks and is very nervous about it! Chhay supports his wife and two children by teaching English. We thank God for the character that we see in this young man. Many of you have heard me tell the story of going to the Cham village over ten years ago to meet with a group of young men who were interested in hearing about the gospel. Chhay was one of the young men in that group who eventually got saved. His father, before he died, was a very well known witch doctor in the Muslim community. When his father died about four years ago his mother told him that the “powers” were to be passed down to him. Chhay reminded his mother that he was a child of God and would not be participating in anything dealing with the occult and demon worship. The powers were transferred to his mother and to this day she serves as the witch doctor for several Cham villages. PRAY THAT CHHAY AND KIMLA WILL CONTINUE TO GROW IN THE LORD.
It is very likely that Bro. Man and his wife, Kahna, will head up our new outreach to Stung MeanChey district. We are hoping to get it up and going in March. PRAY FOR MAN TO HAVE WISDOM AND STRENGTH FROM THE LORD TO LEAD THIS NEW OUTREACH THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO EVENTUALLY OUTGROW THE WORK IN PHNOM PENH.
Hem and Beh continue to faithfully serve the Lord in various areas. Last month Hem asked me if I would be willing to begin meeting with them both on a regular basis to teach them more of the Bible as well as how to have a Christian family. It is always a blessing to invest time and energy in the lives of those whom you know will use it for the Lord and to help reach others. PRAY FOR HEM AND BEH TO CONTINUE TO REMAIN FAITHFUL AND THAT GOD WILL USE THIS TIME OF DISCIPLESHIP IN THEIR LIVES TO BEAR MUCH FRUIT IN THE YEARS TO COME.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave , Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason