August 8, 2016
Our Phnom Penh service opened on Sunday morning with the ladies group singing the hymn “Burdens are Lifted at Calvary.” Thank the Lord for the freedom that is available in Christ because of Calvary. We are grateful for the part that you are playing in helping to provide spiritual freedom to the people of Southeast Asia.
Our services went very well this weekend. It is always an amazing and humbling thing for us to see so many folks not just come to church every Sunday but also give their entire day to the Lord. We are planning to have a worker’s fellowship soon for all of those who volunteer to serve the Lord in the various ministries God has entrusted to us, but we are realizing that it is going to be a difficult thing to do due to the large number of folks who are involved. We will likely have to split the workers up into two or three different groups. As full as the schedule is, that might be a real challenge.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world…these things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Titus 2:11, 12, 15
Sunday morning I spoke on the dangers that the simple person faces as well as the solution to stop being simple and become wise. The message was very direct and pointed especially at the parents who were in the congregation. We have to, on purpose, warn and direct many of the parents in the way of the Lord. Biblical parenting is virtually unheard of here in this country even among the majority of those who claim to be Christian. The message confronted and challenged several aspects of the Cambodian culture and I wasn’t entirely confident that it would be well received. In a loving way at the close of the morning message I reminded our church that no one is making them attend our church and that there are other options in Phnom Penh, and if they didn’t like to have direct preaching they could certainly find a church that would tell them what they wanted to hear. I’ve never said something like that to our folks but it seemed appropriate due to the issues that I had addressed in the message. It was a blessing on Sunday evening to see the church packed once again with smiling faces and to hear several share testimonies of their gratitude to the Lord for saving them and allowing them to be a part of a church family that works hard to help the next generation succeed for the Lord. During our couples small group on Sunday evening one of the wives thanked the Lord that they are not left to try and parent their children alone. They feel like they have a team (the church) that is helping them to guide their children. That was a blessing for us to hear.
It is always a blessing to see the young children of our faithful families being taught the Word of God as well as how to serve the Lord. Debbie and Sue worked with these children over the past couple of weeks to teach them the song “One Way God Said to Get to Heaven.” They sang for us Sunday morning and did a good job!
Lord willing we will be splitting the baby nursery from the toddlers (2-3 year olds) in September. We have so many ladies who are expecting babies that if we don’t get a handle on the younger kids soon we will be in serious trouble. It will bring a whole new dimension to the nursery as well as provide new opportunities for our young ladies to learn how to teach children.
There are so many fresh and challenging testimonies that we could share with you of the faithfulness of the folks here in Cambodia but we will only share four of them with you in this update.
SreyTouch was saved several months ago and has been very faithful despite facing persecution from her husband and extended family. It’s been such a blessing to see her joyful spirit and smile as she always jumps right in and serves anywhere she is able and needed. During our couples small group last night she shared how that her husband and family members are putting serious pressure on her to leave our church. They would be totally fine with her going to a number of other churches where there is little, if any, preaching but they don’t like the fact that she is learning the Word of God and applying it in her daily life. She constantly faces opposition from her husband when she tries to bring her children to church, although they love it every time they come. Her family is trying every method possible to get her to quit church and “quit” being a Christian. This past week they even went so far as to hire a witch doctor to place a spell on her to cause her to quit. Who knows, they probably placed a spell on all of us as well. Despite all that she faces at home she remains joyful and burdened for her family to be saved. PLEASE PRAY FOR SREYTOUCH TO BE PROTECTED AND FAITHFUL TO THE LORD AS SHE SEEKS TO LET HER LIGHT SHINE IN THE DARKNESS OF HER OWN FAMILY.
We led Navy to Christ a couple of months ago and she has been growing in the Lord ever since. Each Monday morning Debbie and I meet with her and teach her the basic steps of walking with the Lord. This morning she shared with us of an incident that happened to her yesterday after the morning service as she and her two children were walking back home through the neighborhood. It’s a well known fact that Navy’s family is very poor. Her husband leaves for work every morning at about 5:30 and walks about 30 minutes while pushing his ice cream cart to a specific location where he remains until around 6:00 in the evening when he pushes the cart back home. At that point he spends the next 4 hours making ice cream to sell the next day. If he takes a day off it is likely the family won’t eat the next day. It’s been encouraging to see the ladies in the church, of their own initiative, take clothing to Navy for herself and her children.
As she walked home from church she walked past a new business that had just opened. The business owners had just performed a Buddhist ritual that involves sacrificing a chicken on an altar to the ancestral spirits. (The altar looked similar to the one pictured above.) Seeing Navy and knowing that she is poor, they offered to give her the chicken so that her children could eat it for lunch. Navy boldly told them that she is a Christian and that she will not knowingly eat food that is offered to idols and kindly declined their offer. Without a doubt the chicken would have cost more money than she would even dream of spending on a single meal. Turning down the chicken meant returning home and eating whatever food they could scrounge up but it certainly would not be equivalent to a chicken dinner. As Navy shared this incident with us this morning she said, “No one ever taught me not to eat that chicken but God told me in my heart that He didn’t want me to be involved with anything that relates to the devil and false religion. That’s why I told them I would not accept it.” Wow! May we all have hearts as sensitive as Navy’s. PRAY FOR NAVY AS SHE SEEKS TO BE A GOOD TESTIMONY TO HER LOST HUSBAND, SOK.
Tara and SreyMohm were saved several months ago and have been growing spiritual by leaps and bounds. Each Tuesday afternoon I meet with them and answer questions they have about the Bible as well as teach them from our church discipleship curriculum for new believers. Tara is a university professor and is bold in his witness on the job. This past week he had the opportunity to sit down with Rithy, a fellow professor, and discuss his faith in Jesus Christ. Rithy had many questions; some of which Tara was able to answer and some which he could not yet answer. It was a blessing to hear Tara tell me how he used things he learned from my message last Sunday to confront Rithy with his need of salvation. Thank God for Tara and SreyMohm’s bold testimony and their servant spirit. PLEASE PRAY FOR TARA TO HAVE WISDOM AS HE CONTINUES TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO REACH OUT TO RITHY WITH THE GOSPEL.
Sane is a faithful young adult man. He and his entire family were reached with the gospel about four years ago. Every Sunday and Thursday he drives a Tuk Tuk to pick folks up from Chumga Village and take them to the Psa Tricht Church. After the Sunday morning service in Psa Tricht he and another national man, Chhay, drive 71 kilomoters one-way to the church in Prey Bang Village in order to lead the Children’s Ministry there. Then they return back to Psa Tricht in time for the evening service. Recently Sane and Chhay have become burdened for all the families that they pass along the road as they travel 71 kilometers to Prey Bang. They have decided that rather than taking a short nap between the Psa Tricht service and the time they leave for Prey Bang, they will leave early in order to spend 20-30 minutes going door-to-door handing out tracts to the several hundred homes along the road. I preached at the Psa Tricht Church last Sunday and took this picture of Sane as he cheerfully changed the tire that went flat just before they arrived to the church. He didn’t get done changing it until the service was nearly half over. Thank God for faithful young adults who are willing to invest in the lives of others. PRAY FOR GOD’S CONTINUED DIRECTION IN SANE’S LIFE.
Soveat is a friend of one of the new Christians here in Phnom Penh. Yesterday was her second time to attend our church and she listened intently to the testimonies and preaching. Saturday evening Kanha spent about 2 hours answering some of the many questions that she has about the Bible and about the gospel. As a Chinese-Cambodian her family is deeply steeped in Buddhism and ancestral worship but as a young adult she realizes that she has to make her own choice. It would seem that God is really dealing with her heart and that she is close to being saved. PLEASE PRAY FOR KANHA AND OTHERS TO HAVE WISDOM AND COMPASSION AS THEY CONTINUE TO PATIENTLY LEAD SOVEAT TO THE LORD.
Saroeun recently graduated from university with a degree in Computer Technology. He is friends with Oudom, one of the single young adult men in our Phnom Penh Church. Yesterday was his first time to visit our church. After the service he requested to meet with me and told me that he has been to several churches in the past but has never seen anything quite like what he saw and experienced during the service that morning. He told me that he had never heard the type of preaching that we have here and that it really spoke to his heart. He is not clear on salvation and has asked to meet with we to further discuss what it means to be saved. We have an appointment to meet together this coming Saturday morning at 11:30. PRAY THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL BE AT WORK IN SAROEUN’S HEART AND THAT HE WILL GAIN THE ASSURANCE OF HIS SALVATION. LIKEWISE, PLEASE PRAY THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO CONNECT WITH HIM AND SEE HIM BECOME A FAITHFUL MEMBER OF THE CHURCH FAMILY.
Every Saturday morning we will normally have around 50-60 folks who break up into groups and go out soul-winning in Phnom Penh and in the villages around Psa Tricht. My group leaves at 6:40 and includes myself, Debbie, Jeremy, and two or three of our national men. For the past several weeks we have been traveling to a particular village that is located about 40 minutes from Phnom Penh. Ra, the young man in white, has had the opportunity to witness to Wang and SokLang on several occasions now and this week he brought me to meet them. We tag-teamed together as we presented the plan of salvation to this couple. Wang finally expressed that he believed everything we were teaching him. However, when I asked him if he was ready to turn from his idols to the living God, he said that he was not ready to stop sacrificing to his ancestors. It is clear that he understands the gospel and knows that he can’t be a child of God while continuing to place his trust in the spirits. PRAY THAT WANG AND SOKLANG WILL WELCOME US INTO THEIR HOME ONCE AGAIN AND THAT THEY WILL STOP RESISTING THE CONVICTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THEIR HEARTS AND BE SAVED.
Sovann and Sina are the parents of Veasna, one of our very faithful 18-year-old young men here in Phnom Penh. Veasna was reached with the gospel through our Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry about 5 years ago and today faithfully serves in several ministries in the church including preaching several times a week in various children’s outreaches. Sovann and Sina were saved this past year through the faithful testimony of Veasna. Their work schedules are very tight and they have very little, if any, free time. They work 7 days a week from early morning until into the evening. Since starting our Sunday evening small groups Sovann has made it a priority to become a part of our married couples group. We were so excited to see him bring Sina with him last night. I’m not sure what has changed to make it so that she didn’t have to work but she looked like she was having a great time. When our group was over Sovann told me that she will be back again next week. During the time when we share blessings he told our group that he was so happy that his wife could join the group. He told us all that even though she has never been able to attend church because of her job she faithfully listens to the MP3 preaching that we have provided for her. PRAY THAT SOVANN AND SINA WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE THE TIME TO GET MORE PLUGGED INTO THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH FAMILY.
Each week during our couples small group we teach a lesson dealing with the family and the responsibilities that we have as outlined in the Word of God. Virtually everything I teach is new to the members of our group due to the fact that they have not been saved that long nor did any of them grow up in a Christian family. Last night we dealt with the role that a father and a mother each play and how that role uniquely relates to their son and to their daughter. So many of the people in our group have been serving in various ministries throughout the day and they are often very tired by Sunday evening. We always try to create an environment that is uplifting as well as inspiring even though the message is often quite serious and sometimes difficult for them to receive.
The husbands competed against the wives last night in this game – unfortunately the husbands lost, but as you can see in the video, everyone had a great time!
Since Ta Son passed away in Elephant Den Village a couple of months ago we’ve had a challenging time trying to get his fellow villagers to talk to us. Because of their superstition many in the village believe that he died because he stopped offering sacrifices to the spirits who control the village. Slowly we’ve seen the children in the village begin to open up to us once again. We were happy to have 14 children attend the outreach yesterday. Ra and Jeremy taught the children while Debbie and I met with our one remaining adult, Sakhan. It was great to have these three young ladies with us yesterday. They saw our Tuk Tuk arrive in the village and walked over to see who we were and what we were doing. Come to find out, they used to attend our Children’s Ministry in Prak Pnou Village two years ago but have now moved to Elephant Den Village. They seemed to be very happy to have the chance to once again be a part of our group. We hope they will continue to attend.
As we met with Bro. Sakhan, I asked him a bit about his childhood. He told me that the only religion in his village other than Buddhism and demon worship was Catholicism. When asked if he had ever heard the gospel he emphatically responded by saying, “No. Never!” Thankfully Sakhan’s house is now being used to teach the gospel to any children who are willing to listen! Those of you who speak Khmer can hear him respond to my question in the video below. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THE OUTREACH TO ELEPHANT DEN VILLAGE.
The cults and false religions are everywhere here in Cambodia. It is a regular thing to see them riding their bikes or walking through the neighborhood. In order to draw a group of people whom they can teach, their tactics often include targeting new converts from churches like ours. We’ve seen them do this more and more in recent days here in Phnom Penh as well as in some of our village ministries. Sadly, they are even targeting some of the deaf folks in our church who are newly saved but not yet really grounded in their faith. Yesterday one of our deaf young ladies asked me about the literature one of the groups had given her. When she found out what they believed she quickly told me that she didn’t want their book any more and asked me to get rid of it for her. PRAY THAT GOD WILL PLACE A HEDGE OF PROTECTION AROUND OUR NEW FOLKS WHILE THEY ARE BEING DISCIPLED IN THE WORD OF GOD.
We’ve had a Children’s Ministry outreach to Stung MeanChey now for a few months and it has been going well. Bro. Man is doing a fantastic job of leading workers from the Phnom Penh church every Sunday afternoon as they teach the children. For the past two weeks we have had about 100 children each Sunday afternoon at this outreach.
When we made the conscious decision to begin sending workers into Stung MeanChey we always believed that God would one day open the door to not just have an outreach to children but to have a vital outreach to the tens of thousands of teens and adults who live in that district. For some time workers have regularly sought to reach teens and adults in this area and we have seen several folks come to Christ and continue to grow.
About a month ago we made the decision to step out and begin a small group specifically targeting teens and adults in Stung MeanChey. Without going into all the details, the decision was made to have Man and his wife, Kahna, as well as Kosal and his wife, Phalley, move into a rented property in Stung MeanChey and begin a small group that would meet each Sunday afternoon. Man and Kosal, as well as the Phnom Penh church, have rented a building with a one year commitment and with the goal of seeing this group become a church.
We cast the vision to the church to help purchase chairs and a few basic items to help us get this new group started and announced that we would be taking a special offering. We have been simply amazed to see the response from the national believers. No doubt some of them really sacrificed in order to be able to participate in this offering. The money in this picture was given by an older lady in the church who has no income of her own. She depends on her children to sustain her. I know for a fact that this past week she was counting her money to see if she could afford to go to a doctor or not after coming down with a bad stomach flu. The folks gave more than we could have ever imagined and for that we give God thanks. We are blessed by their desire to have a part in the Lord’s work.
No one knows for sure how many folks were in this first public service. Because of the fact that I’m in Elephant Den Village on Sunday afternoons I was not able to attend our first service. However, there was somewhere between 30 and 43 teens and adults from Stung MeanChey in attendance. This does not include a number of workers from Phnom Penh who are helping to get this new work started. Nor does it include any of the 100 children and workers who gathered a short distance away for our children’s outreach.
I believe that with God’s blessing and through following an already proven method of church-planting, we will see this new work take off. I think there is a very good chance that most of the 30-43 folks will continue to attend due to the fact that for a couple of months the workers have already been teaching them in smaller groups.
I believe that this work will become a church within the next year or so. This could never happen without God’s blessing and without the countless hours that our national folks have invested in soul-winning and discipling new believers. The entire country of Cambodia is in great need of many more gospel-preaching churches. We have been told that there are 8,500 villages in Cambodia without any church or gospel witness whatsoever. While there are numerous churches in Phnom Penh, it would be safe to say that many of them are not gospel preaching. Most would be a convoluted mixture of baptismal regeneration, charismatic nonsense, “come to church and we will teach you English for free and even pay you a monthly stipend to attend”, etc… Many of the churches that faithfully teach a pure doctrine (especially as it relates to salvation) tend to be very small and lacking in vision and leadership. There is definitely a need to see more churches planted in the city that are aggressive in evangelism, have the leadership necessary to effectively equip new believers, and that have a vision for this part of the world. By God’s grace we hope to see the Stung MeanChey group become one of those churches! PLEASE REMEMBER TO PRAY FOR MAN AND KOSAL AS THEY LEAD THIS NEW WORK.
In two weeks we hope to begin a new men’s group on Saturday evening for the four men in the white shirts. Each of these men have been saved over the past couple of months and are relatively the same age. They all come from different backgrounds and have different life experiences. One of these men lived in Vietnam for many years and in addition to speaking Khmer speaks Vietnamese very well. One of them is a retired University professor who taught the Khmer language for many years. One of them is a professional Tailor who used to work with Bro. Sinath (in the blue shirt) 20 years ago. The amazing thing is that they are all now brothers in the Lord. PRAY THAT THIS NEW MEN’S GROUP WILL BE HELPFUL IN DISCIPLING THESE MEN.
This past week, like nearly every week over the past year, we prepared MP3 messages and lessons to give to those who are newly saved or who are close to getting saved. There are certain frustrations with buying the MP3 players in Cambodia as they tend to not last as long as if we were able to purchase them in the States but the benefits far outweigh the liabilities. It’s always a blessing when one of our new believers brings me their SD card and asks if we can please load new preaching onto it for them.
We are looking forward to picking up these tracts from the printer this Wednesday. The first tract, “Do You Know God?”, is a reprint of a tract I wrote in the past with a new cover and some minor changes on the inside. We have seen a good response to it in the past. The tract in the middle, “After You Leave This Earth,” is a brand new tract that was written by Bro. Vannak. I believe it will be very effective. He told me that he felt led to write this tract after completing an assignment dealing with reincarnation in Bible Institute this past term. The tract on the right, “What If,” was written by Bro. Has and is a reprint with a new cover and minor changes made on the inside. It poses several questions that are intended to awaken the readers’ conscience in regard to eternity and the consequences of dying without Christ. Lord willing these 30,000 new tracts will result in not just seeds being planted but in souls being saved. PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD WILL USE THESE TRACTS IN A MIGHTY WAY IN THE MANY VILLAGES WHERE WE HOPE TO USE THEM.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason