October 9, 2016
We had a wonderful day today here in Cambodia. It started out a bit slow here in Phnom Penh and I was wondering if everyone had moved or something. However, the auditorium filled up about twenty minutes after the service started. I think all the rain and sickness here in Cambodia has everyone just a bit under the weather. Once we got going the service picked up momentum and we had a wonderful time.
We have been reaching out to Heng for the past several weeks. We met him just last month. While I was in a “creative access” country recently I kept in touch with him through phone calls and we are working hard to win his heart. He works six days a week from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Sunday is his only day off and that makes it a bit difficult to find the time to meet with him for any extended period of time. We don’t normally invite the lost to attend church when they have not had any background with Christianity as it is always better to present the gospel to them in their homes. I know that he was totally lost today during the service and likely a bit uncomfortable. He said that he will return next Sunday with his wife, Mara, and their three children. We have made plans to go out to eat together after the service. PLEASE PRAY THAT HENG AND MARA WILL UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL AND BE SAVED.
We have been reaching out to 24 year old Pheaktra for the past year. He works at a local coffee shop that we frequent on our date night. This past week we had the opportunity to meet with him for an extended period of time because he had no customers. He planned to be in the service this morning but he got lost and returned back home after he could not reach us on the cell phone. (It came as a shock to him that my cell phone would be turned off while I am preaching 🙂 ) I returned his call after the morning service and helped him find our place. He joined our family for lunch today and, again, I had the opportunity to witness to him. He told me that the reason he is interested in the gospel is because of the example he has seen in our lives while we are on our date night and in his coffee shop. He said that he has never seen married people who are happy and he desires to have that kind of happiness in his life. You never know who is watching you and what they perceive about your life. PLEASE PRAY THAT PHEAKTRA WILL UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL AND RESPOND TO THE WORKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN HIS HEART.
This evening we heard reports from three of our outreach ministries. SreyMohm shared about the progress of the work in Stung MeanChey as well as her gratitude to God for allowing her family to have a part in the work of the Lord.
Jason gave us an update on the outreach in Ta Skov Village. It is definitely a blessing for us to see him faithfully involved in that ministry each week. Brother Taiwan, the national man in charge of the Ta Skov Village outreach, has asked Jason to preach there in the village every other week. It sure would be nice if Debbie and I would have the opportunity to hear him one of these days.
Brother Bounna gave us a report on the work in Psa Tricht Village. He noted that the nationals who are leading that work are growing in their ability to lead their own people. He told us that even though there were a number of folks sick and not at the church today the auditorium there was full!
Yesterday a few of the ladies gathered together for a baby shower for Phalley. Phalley and her husband, Kosal, were married here at the church this past year and are both very faithfully involved in the ministry. Kosal works as an English professor at one of the premier English schools here in Phnom Penh and Phalley is a homemaker. They both serve together in the new Stung MeanChey outreach as well as other areas where they are needed. This evening Kosal preached for our Sunday evening service here in Phnom Penh. We are thankful for this young couple. Their lives are about to change with the birth of their soon-to-arrive baby girl! PLEASE PRAY FOR PHALLEY’S SAFETY AS SHE GIVES BIRTH AT THE END OF THIS MONTH.
We rejoiced to have the opportunity to celebrate Tara’s graduation a couple of weeks ago. He graduated with his Master’s Degree. Tara teaches undergraduate classes at his university and we were also happy to have the opportunity to meet a few of his students who were graduating at the same time. He presently teaches a combined total of around 900 students each week. Tara and SreyMohm have been saved just over a year now and are a wonderful testimony of the power of God to change lives. Debbie has the opportunity to teach their youngest daughter, Srey Roth, the piano. Both Tara and SreyMohm are helping to serve in the new outreach in Stung MeanChey and are a blessing to the folks there in that ministry. PLEASE PRAY FOR THIS FAMILY AS THEY CONTINUE TO GROW IN THE LORD. The devil would love to try and cause them to stumble as there are a lot of people watching their example.
There has been A LOT of sickness going around here in Cambodia. Even as I write this update we have two of our members’ babies in the hospital. One has dengue fever and the other one has been having seizures and a high fever. Several of the adults are quite sick right now as well. Michelle (in the blue shirt) has been here in Cambodia serving for the past 5 months. Eating the wrong food finally caught up with her! She had the opportunity here in this picture to experience what it is like to be in the hospital here in Cambodia! Even though she is having serious stomach cramps in this picture she still has a smile on her face. It’s a pleasure to serve along side Michelle and many others here who, despite facing difficulties, continue to smile and go on for the Lord. PRAY FOR MICHELLE TO FULLY RECOVER. Sometimes foodborne illness here can drag on for a long time. She made it to church this morning but stayed home this evening as she was not feeling well.
In our last update we asked you to pray for Ta Lote and his salvation. I’ve been back to see him a couple of times since that update. It seems that he is coming to understand what it means to be be saved and he is rejecting it. He told me that there is no way that he can give up his god and accept Jesus Christ. It is not likely that he will be willing to spend much more time talking with me. I plan to try and drop in on him from time to time. This is particularly sad due to the fact that he plainly told me that his god (idols) has never helped him and constantly demands that he make sacrifices and do good works in order to gain merit for his “next life.” The issues for him is that he feels he can not turn his back on what he has believed for his entire life. It is sad to see him continue to live without God and without hope. (Ephesians 2:12)
Please continue to pray for the Stung MeanChey outreach. Beginning a new ministry is always a slow process and requires a lot of time and effort. Brother Man and his wife, Kanha, as well as Brother Kosal and his wife, Phalley, are going a wonderful job of loving their own people and investing in their lives. The Children’s Ministry and Adult class is going well and continues to be led by the nationals.
We are beginning two ministries in Stung MeanChey beginning this week. This coming Thursday we will begin having an evening mid-week service. The Stung MeanChey national leaders will only speak in this service once a month. The other weeks we will have various leaders from our other churches in Phnom Penh and Psa Tricht. This will give the Stung MeanChey folks an opportunity to be influenced by a broader group of leaders. It will also help our national leaders who are not part of the Stung MeanChey outreach to have a part in that ministry. Debbie and I will have the opportunity to go teach for the first service this coming Thursday. Additionally, Bro. Man and Kosal are beginning a new teen service in Stung MeanChey this coming Sunday at 11:00 a.m. We have a good group of teens who have been reached through the Stung MeanChey ministry and this new service will help disciple them. It is likely that a couple of our Phnom Penh teens will join with that service in order to help the newer believers grow. PLEASE PRAY FOR THE NEW MID-WEEK SERVICE FOR ADULTS AND THE NEW TEEN SERVICE TO BE EFFECTIVE TOOLS TO HELP GROUND NEW BELIEVERS IN THE LORD.
This coming Sunday afternoon we are planning to begin a new small group especially for the deaf. We took this picture last year when we had a special day and had a large group of deaf who attended. The majority of these folks do not attend church but will visit on occasion. Miss Grace (in the green dress) has been working with the deaf now for over a year and has won several in this group to the Lord. She feels that beginning this new group will help us to see more deaf won to Christ as well as see those who are saved get grounded. There are a couple of cults here that are targeting the deaf and causing a lot of confusion to some of them. We plan to start the group in our home and run it just like we run our Sunday evening small groups. Lord willing it will prove to be an effective tool to reach this unreached people group here in Cambodia. It is my understanding that there are around 85,000 deaf in Cambodia. We have been told that only about 2% of them have access to learning Cambodian Sign Language. Imagine the impact that our church could have in the deaf community if just a handful of these folks were to be saved and discipled to walk with God and reach their own people. Though I will be the one teaching in the small group, Miss Grace is really the one who is working with them day in and day out. PLEASE PRAY THAT GRACE AND MYSELF WILL HAVE WISDOM AS WE BEGIN THIS NEW GROUP.
One of the most important ministries in the church is the nursery and some of the most valuable workers in the church are the ladies who serve in that ministry! We are so thankful to have about 30 different ladies and teen girls who serve in our nurseries. Their task is not an easy one. So many of the toddlers who come to church with their parents or siblings come from homes where there is virtually no structure and definitely no Biblical discipline. This makes the nursery workers job even more of a challenge as we strive to have the nursery run decently and in order. Most of our faithful parents, especially those who are a part of our married couple’s small group, are growing in their understanding of Biblical parenting and are making great strides with their young children.
In order to help the nursery ministry become more effective Debbie has begun training and recruiting new workers. This past week she held training for several young teen girls who will begin teaching the 2-3 year old class on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. We hope to begin the new class for 2-3 year old children starting this next Sunday. This new expansion will afford a great opportunity for these young ladies to learn how to work with children. It will also be great training for when they become mothers themselves.
Winning and discipling nationals is the most important task of a missionary. A country will only be reached with the gospel as the nationals are reached and see their responsibility to personally obey Christ’s command to GO WITH THE GOSPEL, BAPTIZE NEW BELIEVERS, and MAKE DISCIPLES. One of the joys of serving with fellow team members in the ministry is the opportunity to have a broad sphere of influence and to have it in more than just one location. This past week we had the opportunity to serve in a “creative access” country here in Southeast Asia as we filled in for the missionary while they are in the States for a short time. It was a joy to see what God is allowing our team there in that country to accomplish for His glory.
I had the opportunity to teach and preach 10 different times. It was a blessing to see the hunger of these young believers to know the Word of God. The young man in the red shirt translated for me and did a good job.
This young man is a star athlete and has won 4 national gold medals in his particular sport. He is a new believer but desires to be faithful to the Lord. The director of his school recently told the other students that if any of them listened to him talk about Jesus or dared to even visit the church then they would be expelled from the school. Furthermore, he told this young man that if even one more student in the school became a Christian then he would be expelled. There are presently only 2 Christians in the entire school. I seriously doubt that the school would actually expel him due to the fact that he is rated number one in the entire country in his particular sport. However, you can see the pressure and persecution that so many of these folks live with when they become a Christian. It was a blessing to see him smiling while sharing his testimony of his desire to live for the Lord! PLEASE HELP PRAY FOR PERSECUTED BELIEVERS HERE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA WHO ARE TAKING A STAND FOR THE LORD.
I had the opportunity to teach these students Monday-Thursday in for 3-4 hours each morning. I taught on the topic of “Bible Study Methods” as well as “Spiritual Leadership.” It’s always refreshing to teach young people who have to make a special effort to be in class. Each of these young adults face serious persecution for their faith every time they engage in public ministry yet they are beginning to really get a vision of what God wants to do in and through their lives in their own country. The lady who translated for me during these classes has spent time in jail for publicly sharing her faith in Jesus Christ yet she remains a joyful servant of the Lord.
These four young men are from another ministry of like faith in the area and joined in our Bible Institute training each morning. Their pastor, though still a young adult man, has been arrested in the past because of his faith and for gathering folks together for church. It was a joy to have them join together with us.
The young folks who were in class each morning have a lot of potential to reach their own people if they will remain faithful and obedient to the Lord. I’m looking forward to discussing further with our team there in the “creative access” country about further ways that we can help them to develop their members who feel called to full-time Christian service.
Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason had the opportunity to interact with the students who study English in the English school that is run by our team mates. It gave the students the chance to speak with native English speakers from America as well as be asked questions in English. Most of the students in the school are not saved. After one of the sessions one of the national leaders actually had the opportunity to present the plan of salvation.
While in that country we had the opportunity to visit with a national preacher and his wife who live way out in the country. We were told that this man often rides his bike from province to province sharing the gospel and preaching in churches. We were touched by the poverty of his family and by his dedication to the Lord’s work. Sadly, it does seem that he and other national leaders are lacking in so much of the training that is available in the west when it comes to knowing how to effectively and Biblically lead the family and the church. Those of us from the west often take for granted the many conferences, books, mp3 sermons, and other resources that are available to us any time we want them. So many folks in much of the world have access to none of those tools.
While there we were able to do some premarital counseling with this young couple. Our hearts really go out to them as they have never really seen how a family is supposed to interact. I think they will likely face a very difficult marriage and family life. It is our hope that they will allow some of the leaders there to influence them. PRAY FOR THIS YOUNG COUPLE AS THEY DO NOT HAVE A CLEAR TESTIMONY OF SALVATION.
It was a joy to be able to visit a village ministry that our team has started about 90 minutes outside of the city. In order to get there we had to cross over the river on a ferry. That was not as fun as it sounds. 🙂
The young man who started and is leading this village ministry is doing a great job. Though he is only 21 years old he has a real burden to see his home village know the Lord. He started this outreach 5 months ago and they are running about 35 folks. As he continues to walk with the Lord and grow in his ability to interact with people, I believe that God will use him in a great way. It was a joy to watch the young people sit for nearly three hours as they sang and listened to the Word of God taught.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason