May 19, 2019
There has been so much going on here in Cambodia over the past month or so. We are so thankful for the grace of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit as we, as a ministry, have faced new trials. So many of our folks have been tested by serious sickness complete with fevers peaking over 105 degrees. While our family was not hit with the fevers, we did experience an unrelated medical issue this past week that was quite frightening and resulted in about 7 hours of medical tests at our local hospital.
Some of the young people in our Phnom Penh church are working through the painful emotions and the spiritual hurt that has come to them as this past month one of our former leaders made the decision to leave God’s will, as revealed in His Word, and pursue their own plans for their life. It is always sad to see people allow their heart to lead them rather than the Word of God. But it is particularly troubling when it brings confusion to the lives of young believers. I’m thankful for the grace of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit that has sustained those who have been hurt. The situation that we have experienced is a great reminder that God desires that we have a genuine walk with Him and not merely serve in ministry.
Our building plans at the new property are moving ahead, albeit not as rapidly as we had anticipated. Things in this part of the world tend to move a bit slower than in the west – at least when you attempt to do things legally. The issue that we are currently facing is finding a contractor that we can afford who is competent to build the type of building we need as well as allow us to do as much of the manual labor as we are capable of doing in order to save as much money as possible. Lord willing we will have this nailed down very soon. Please pray for Brother Vong as he diligently strives to make this happen. We are so thankful for those who have felt led to help us with our building! We have raised approximately 70% of the funds needed to build two stories. If you would like to have a part in helping to provide for the amount that we still need please contact me.
This past Sunday morning and evening we honored our mothers. It was such a blessing to hear several of the young people publicly read the poems that they wrote to honor their mothers. One of the young ladies, Srey Nak, presented the plan of salvation in one of the stanzas of her poem. We were all touched to hear her tearfully and unashamedly plead with her mother to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour. Please pray for Srey Nak’s mother to be saved.
It was a particular blessing to hear Borey read the poem that she wrote to honor her mother. Her mother, Channy, came to know the Lord several years ago through the consistent love and appeal of one of the soul winners here at the church. After she was saved I remember Channy sharing a testimony of how she used to curse and yell at the soul winners when they attempted to share the gospel with her. One day she actually asked them why they continue to go to her house even though she treats them so badly. They told her that they keep sharing the gospel with her because God loves her and desires for her to be saved. It was their love for her that the Holy Spirit used to help soften her heart to receive the gospel. Over five years ago Channy died from liver failure and today is with the Lord. It was touching for me to sit on the platform behind Borey as she read her poem, and look past her to the picture of her mother on the wall. The picture includes the faces of six of our former members who today are in Heaven. The picture is a great reminder to our church that we are to remain “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” because we know that our “labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Here is a video of the English choir practicing the song “Nail it to the Cross.” I love the truth of this song.
Sunday evening in our Married Couples small group it was a blessing to hear Ming Thach share some of her salvation testimony. She shared how that forty years ago, with her hands bound behind her back, while standing in the execution line of the Khmer Rouge, she pleaded with God to save her from impending death. She admitted that she had no idea Who the true God was. She knew in her heart that the things she had been worshiping were not truly God. They were gods that had eyes but could not see. They had ears but were incapable of hearing her cry out for help in her time of need. God did save her from the executioner’s axe that day, and for the next forty years she desired to know the God Who had created her – but she had no idea where to find Him. What a blessing it is to remember that it is God Who seeks out the lost and places within them the desire to know Him. He is faithful to create circumstances that lead the unsaved to a place where they are willing and ready to accept the gospel as is it brought to them by Christians who are obedient to Christ’s command to take the gospel to the lost. One day several months ago she sat in her home all alone. In despair she held a handful of pills and contemplated how she could get up the courage to take her own life. She was tired of the day-in day-out struggle just to survive. Her religion had provided her with no real answers and she wanted to end it all with the hope that she could maybe be reincarnated and start all over again – perhaps her next life would be better than her present life. As she sat all alone several of our folks from the outreach in StungMeanChey knocked on her door as they were going door-to-door with the gospel. After meeting with her on several occasions she came to understand that Jesus Christ was not only her Creator but He also had sustained her throughout her life making it possible for her to live long enough to hear the gospel. She came to believe that His death, burial, and resurrection had provided the only way to pay for her sin debt and place her in right standing with God. With great joy she shared how that she no longer desires to end her life but now desires to live for the Lord Jesus Christ! Thank the Lord for the power of the gospel to save anyone who is willing to “turn to God from idols” and “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We love seeing the young adults and teens in our church serve the Lord by reaching out to the children in our neighborhood with love and with the gospel. Seyha, the young man pictured above, was reached as a young person through the Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry and today leads the teen class of our children’s ministry here in Phnom Penh. Please continue to pray for our young leaders to remain faithful to love their own people and to patiently work with the children in our neighborhood as they strive to help them understand and accept the gospel.
This past week we enjoyed a special time of fellowship with some of the married couples who are part of the church. Their joy and love for the Lord was evident as we spent the evening together.
One special aspect of our time together was when each couple stood up front and expressed their gratitude to each other and to the Lord for the marriage that they are enjoying. What a joy it was to remember that though most of our folks have very few material possessions, yet they possess the joy of the Lord and constantly look to Him as their Sustainer and the Source of their joy.
This past Tuesday evening we enjoyed a time fellowship with some of the singles in our church. Debbie and I rarely have the opportunity to be with them outside of our regular church services and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing them have a great time together. The majority of these young adults come from families that do not know the Lord. They are often pressured by family members to abandon their faith in Jesus Christ or at least live a life that is less committed to a walk of obedience. Please continue to pray for these young adults and others to continue to have a close walk with the Lord and to shine as lights in the darkness.
This past week Michelle marked her three-year anniversary of serving the Lord here in Cambodia. We have had the privilege to be a part of her life for many years and it’s been a great joy to see how she has joyfully yielded to God’s call upon her life. The impact of her investment into the lives of the young girls in our church will only be revealed in eternity. Recently these four young ladies began attending church, in part, due to the love and acceptance that they have felt as they have come to know Michelle. Please continue to pray that Michelle will remain faithful to the Lord and find her satisfaction in Christ alone.
We are trying, on purpose, to meet the families who live in and near the village where we plan to relocate this next year. It was great to get to spend some time with Sinath recently and to hear her once again express her joy that there will soon be a church near her house. She came to know the Lord a few years ago while being incarcerated for a crime that she committed. However, when she returned home a few months ago there was no one to help disciple her. She told us that she has been praying that there would be a church in her village. We are looking forward to getting to know her better as Debbie and I plan to soon begin discipling her in the Word of God. Please pray for Sinath’s spiritual growth. Two weeks ago we had the opportunity to meet several other folks who live not too far from our new land. Please pray for us to have wisdom as we seek to forge relationships with these folks that will result in them being saved: Sophal, Narun, Rithy, Chamran, Sothea, and SreySrahs.
We are so thankful for the generosity of a godly older Cambodian lady from Long Beach, California who purchased land in Preah Vithear Province and then built a simple building that provides an adequate place for our folks who are a part of that village outreach to meet for church services. For the past many months we have been meeting in the home of one of the believers, and the people are so grateful now for the Lord’s provision of a proper building that is more centrally located to their homes. Most of the new believers who are a part of this outreach are under heavy financial debt due to unwise decisions they made prior to being saved. Sadly, most of the families who live in this particular village, whether saved or unsaved, are facing eventual eviction and loss of their personal land and possessions as their debt has risen to a place that they can no longer manage to even pay the interest on the loans they took out several years ago in order to try and simply survive. It’s troubling to learn how many of them have been deceived by loan sharks who demand exorbitant interest rates. Imagine spending nearly your entire income just to pay interest payments month after month and at the end of two years owing the exact same amount that you borrowed. Humanly speaking there is no hope in sight for most of them. Pray for our leaders as we try and do what we can to help one particular family find a solution to some of the financial bondage they are facing. Poverty in this part of the world is a definite reality and we need wisdom in order to discern how we can be a blessing without becoming a spiritual stumbling block.
This past week I met with some of the men to discuss the timing for the start of our Christian School. It would seem that many of them are burdened in regard to their responsibility to train their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” They have come to the conviction, on their own, that they can not continue to allow their young children to be exposed to the many influences that are found in the public school system. In several of the villages where our folks live, drug abuse and immorality is rampant even among junior high young people. In their mind, it is no longer simply a matter of combating the lies of evolution and idol worship that is blatantly forced upon the young people. In fact, the young people have been sustained by the grace of God and most of them are standing for the Lord, and just like the three Hebrew children have refused to bow to idols. They believe it is now a matter of physical safety as many of the youth, even in the most remote parts of this country, are falling to drug addiction and other related vices. We are not in a position to begin an actual school but we are taking steps to begin a “learning center” that will serve, Lord willing, as a precursor to a future school. Please pray for our leadership team and the men of our church as we seek to know the Lord’s will and timing regarding our future school.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, and Jason