August 20, 2019
It was a great blessing for us to be with the folks in one of the village ministries this past weekend. About every five weeks Debbie and I leave very early Saturday morning and commute to one of our extension ministries, then return back to the city on Sunday afternoon. We were encouraged to have the opportunity to visit folks in their homes and spend time with them. Times like that are mutually beneficial and we are challenged as we see the grace of God at work in their lives.
It is always an encouragement to preach at this location. The majority of the members in this extension church have been saved out of Islam and have paid a price to be a real Christian. Brother San and his wife, Yom, are being used of God greatly to see folks saved and discipled in this village and surrounding villages. I preached on the blessings of contentment and the curse of covetousness. This country is quickly changing as it is more and more becoming modernized, and the allure of things temporal cry out for affection. It seems that materialism is becoming more of a stronghold here than in the past as opportunities are slowly opening up for the next generation to make money and obtain what they think will bring them happiness. Please pray that the believers will continue to place their affection on things above and not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
We were so happy to see Ly receive a new Bible on Sunday morning! He earned a free Bible through reading a study booklet on the Book of Mark and answering about 100 questions. As we reported in our last update, Ly accepted Christ this past month and his life has totally changed. His demeanor and spirit now is as different as night and day. This change can only be attributed to the power of the gospel! Please pray for Ly and his family to remain a faithful witness and bright light as they live in their Muslim village.
Please pray for these three young adult ladies. I am not at liberty to write much about their situation but will only tell you that they love the Lord and desire to serve Him faithfully. Despite living in very difficult circumstances, they continue to have soft hearts and are hopeful that their circumstances will one day change. Two of them greatly desire to study in the Bible college in order to prepare themselves to more effectively serve the Lord however He chooses to use them.
Sadly, for the time being, they are forced to be the primary breadwinners in their family. From their perspective it seems that they will be trapped in this scenario for years to come. As I sat in their front yard talking with their grandfather, I watched about two dozen of these trucks drive past me. Each truck, depending upon its size, was transporting between 25-40 young ladies back home after work. It was not a pleasant feeling to see SreyNite, Tina, and SreyMohm descending from the truck after working long hours in the factory. I tried to envision how I would feel if it were my own daughter or granddaughter jam-packed into a truck and transported in this manner 6 days a week over dusty and bumpy roads. Serving in this part of the world should definitely cause one to have a different perspective the next time they go into a shopping mall in the States or place an order online for clothing or some other goods that they want to purchase at the cheapest price possible. These godly young ladies work 6 days a week, a minimum of 10 hours per day, and bring home about the same amount of money that many in the West would spend on one meal with their family at a nice restaurant. It might be good to take some time and reflect on that uncomfortable reality… Imagine standing before them on Sunday and preaching on the subject of contentment vs. covetousness – and watching them thoughtfully nod their heads in agreement as they once again resolve, by God’s grace, to set their affection on things above and not on things on the earth. James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?
THE NEXT GENERATION
This past Sunday evening in Phnom Penh it was a great blessing for us to have our entire service run by the young people! Of course, the majority of the teens and young adults in our church come from unsaved families. Many of them are the only believers in their entire extended family. As they sang, shared testimonies, and preached, we remembered those who have have faithfully served here in the church and who have invested countless hours into these young lives over the past several years. A good percentage of the young people were reached with the gospel through our Phnom Penh Children’s Ministry. Such is the case with the three Bible college students pictured below.
Veasna, Noi, and Seyha were all reached through the love and tireless investment of some of our national leaders as they served in the Children’s Ministry 8 years ago.
Veasna led some of the congregational singing for us on Sunday evening. A couple of years ago his parents both came to Christ, in part, because of the change they saw take place in his life as he grew in his walk with the Lord. Veasna now oversees part of our Children’s Ministry in Phnom Penh as well as part of the outreach to Ondong village (about 40 minutes from our church in Phnom Penh) as he continues to plod his way through Bible college. Pray for Veasna to remain faithful!
Noi and his sister, SreyNak, were both saved as young children back in 2011-2012 as well. Noi shared a very powerful testimony of his vision to see many more children reached as we relocate to the new church property in a few months. I will never forget what he told the entire church as he stood before us, “I was so happy when I heard that we were purchasing land to build a new church. I didn’t even think about what it would be like to have our very own building. All I could think about was all of the children who are living in the villages surrounding our new land and of their need to know Jesus. I have a vision to see hundreds of children saved and discipled to follow Jesus because of our new building.” Wow! I look forward to seeing how God will use his life to see this vision come to fruition. Pray for Noi to remain faithful!
Seyha is a great blessing to so many of us. He was also reached as a young boy several years ago. As the only Christian in his family, I believe that he is doing his best to let his light shine. During the service he preached some great truths from Jeremiah 18 and challenged each of us to remain as flexible clay as the Potter continues to fashion us as He desires. Pray for Seyha to remain faithful!
I love Dany’s enthusiastic spirit and joyful countenance! During the service she shared how she had been exposed to Christianity, albeit a watered-down version, from a young age by some Korean missionaries who had started a children’s outreach in her village. She was taught Bible stories and morality and the more she learned, the more she desired to learn. However, she shared that though she lived with the missionary pastor’s family and served in their church for about 5 years, no one had ever told her of her need to be saved. It was not until she moved to Phnom Penh a couple of years ago that she came to understand that sitting inside of a church several times a week, and even living with a missionary family, does not make anyone a child of God. God used Bro. Man and the workers in the StungMeanChey outreach to help her see her need of a personal Saviour. Today Dany is a student in the Bible college and along with her younger sister, Theara, faithfully serves in the church in StungMeanChey / ChoeungEk. Pray for Dany to remain faithful!
Please pray for these young people to remain faithful to the Lord. Five of them are graduating from the 12th grade this month. (Srey Roth, in the pink skirt, took the national test last week and graduated from 9th grade.) Jason, Borey, BouKong, SreyLeak, and SreyNak are now entering into a new phase of their lives that can often be confusing. They have all been faithful as high school students and we anticipate them continuing to do so. Some of these young people come from unsaved families and will no doubt be pressured to go a direction in life that is not within God’s perfect will.
SreyTate has been attending the church for several weeks and her heart seems to be opening to the gospel. I remember meeting her in her home just about a week after we led her aunt to the Lord. At that time, while she was very polite to us, she was very confused about Jesus Christ. For several years she had been attending a cult here in Cambodia that taught her that Jesus Christ had been reincarnated and was living in Korea prior to his death. She was taught that while “Christ” died, his wife continued to lead the true “church” and she had to remain faithful to that “church” if she hoped to get to Heaven. Because she desired to know God, she got baptized and fully bought into the heresy they taught her. I’m so thankful for young adult ladies in our church like Makara, SreyNech, and Sokhey who have, on purpose, reached out to her and sought to make her feel welcome at the church while she is counting the cost of what it might mean if she were to become a Christian. It is so easy to be in the flesh and try and rush someone into being saved without them truly feeling the conviction that they need a Saviour. I believe that SreyTate will be saved soon. Please pray for the workers to have wisdom as they patiently and lovingly deal with her and while the Holy Spirit continues to convict her of her need to be saved. (John 16:8, 1 Corinthians 2:14)
NEW PROPERTY UPDATE
We are so encouraged to see the progress that is taking place at the new property. Lord willing, the concrete slab for our new auditorium will be poured within the next few days. It will be poured on top of the black material in the picture above. Once it is poured it will need to cure for almost a month before the support beams can be removed. During that time we will be able to begin erecting the auditorium walls. As a church, we will be taking up a special offering this coming Sunday in order to purchase the 100,000 bricks that will be required to complete the auditorium. I have no doubt that many of the folks will be giving sacrificially to do their part to see the church completed. We have encouraged each member to do whatever God is calling them to do and we have encouraged them to do it anonymously. However, for various reasons, some folks have chosen to give their offering a bit early. I wish I was at liberty to share specific stories about those who have already given as I know your heart would be blessed and challenged. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to do so one day in person. Without giving names or too many details, let me briefly share three examples of folks who have already given their offering.
A widow lady who has no income whatsoever and who lives on handouts from her adult children (who are also very poor) handed me a twenty dollar bill and told me that it was to help purchase bricks for the new building. She said that she wants other people to be able to know how to be saved and have a home in Heaven.
A single father, who barely makes enough money each day to purchase food for himself and his children, handed me the equivalent of about two weeks worth of his salary and with a huge smile on his face told me that it was his offering to help purchase bricks.
This past Sunday evening a relatively new believer came to seek some advice regarding her participation in an upcoming family event and how she can avoid doing anything that would harm her testimony for the Lord while at the same time showing kindness and attention to her Buddhist family members. After we spoke for awhile she opened her purse and pulled out her building offering envelope and handed it to me. She is a lady who sells peanuts and sweet potatoes from a basket mounted on the back of her bicycle and makes barely enough profit each day to purchase food for her family. I am confident that the amount of money in the envelope exceeded the amount of profit that she made this entire month.
What a blessing it is to see new believers joyfully and sacrificially giving what they have been given! As we have taught on the topic of Biblical stewardship, I have reminded our church that we need to give what we can give – God will be faithful to touch the hearts of other people to help make up the amount that is beyond our capacity. By God’s grace we will reach our financial goal this coming weekend. Whether we reach it or not, one thing is certain: many of our people will be storing up treasures in Heaven through their sacrificial offering to the Lord. (Matthew 6:19-21) Please pray for our people as we take up the offering this coming Sunday morning.
As you may know, our new land is located about 50 minutes from our present location. Of course much thought and prayer was put into our decision to purchase the land as we took into account the impact that it would have on those who live in our present neighborhood. It is at times like this in the life of a church family that faith is tested and priorities are sometimes revealed. While moving to the new location will open so many new doors for ministry, it will also present certain challenges and will necessitate some changes be made to the weekly church and ministry schedule in order to benefit those who will need to commute to the new location. It has been a great blessing to see how our church families have responded to the vision of moving to the new location. At the present time we have 14 families who are purchasing land in our new neighborhood.
Most of them are making plans to build a home directly across the street from our new building. Some of them do not yet have the capacity to build but are planning to do so as soon as they can. I am humbled to remember the response by one of our families who currently owns a home just about 5 minutes from our current location. The husband works from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM, six days a week, and currently has a commute to work of about 7 minutes. When he expressed interest in selling his home, relocating to the edge of town and building a home directly in front of our new church, we reminded him that he should really think about his decision because his new commute to work would be just about 60 minutes one way. Without missing a beat he responded by saying, “God has changed our lives. I don’t know about any other members, but if I’m not willing to have a long commute so that my family can be close to the church, then I need to check my heart. I want my children to know that our church has top priority in our family.” What a great privilege and responsibility it is to serve alongside of families like this.
Please pray for the three families in the picture above as well as other families who will be relocating to our new location and building homes.
We look forward to showing you updated pictures and video of the property as soon as the slab is poured. Many of you received our prayer letter this past week either through email or a hard-copy via mail giving you an update on the outstanding financial needs for the building. We are grateful for those who have responded. As always, if there is any further clarification I can provide you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, and Jason