December 1, 2013
The Lord blessed us with great services again today. The attendance in Phnom Penh was down just a bit due to various reasons but we still had a few chairs set up in the overflow section. Please continue to pray for the spiritual stability of this new church. This past month we turned three years old. It is a blessing to see all that the Lord has done in this short amount of time. God has allowed our Phnom Penh church to plant two additional village churches in the past two years. Lord willing, we are planning to see another church planted this coming January in Prak Pnou village about 8 miles outside town. Please be in prayer concerning this new church plant. Like many places here in this country, Prak Pnou is a tough area. It has been pretty much saturated with NGO groups and “church” groups who give away medicine, free English classes, etc… in an attempt to bribe the people into becoming Christians. This is a popular method used here in Southeast Asia. It is so counterproductive to the Great Commission. Though there are several groups already represented in Prak Pnou, it is a rare thing to actually meet anyone who is a true believer. It is somewhat challenging for the workers to do evangelism there because we are constantly compared with the other groups who give away so much stuff. We have been going to Prak Pnou for some time now and have a small nucleus of adult believers as well as teens and children. We hope to begin the church with somewhere around 25-30 folks in addition to perhaps a family or two from the Phnom Penh church who will go there to help the church get off the ground.
It was a blessing this morning to have some of the ladies sing the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. They obviously worked very hard on this special because it sounded great. Srey Neang is one of our very faithful teen girls. This morning before the service I had to run downstairs to get something. As I came back up the stairs a few minutes later I saw her meeting with several girls younger than her. She had gathered them together and was asking them about their walk with the Lord. No one asked her to do this. She has taken the initiative to care about their spiritual well-being. That was a blessing indeed!
This past week we had two of the men preach during the Sunday evening service. It was encouraging to hear them both preach from their hearts. As missionaries we understand that we have to place great emphasis and importance on not just winning nationals to the Lord but also on equipping them to reach people as well. Sinath and Sovann are two national men who love the Lord and desire to see their own people saved.
We plan, Lord willing, to have a special Christmas service on December 22nd. Our folks are working hard at practicing the songs and learning their parts for the play. This year they will be singing several Christmas songs that we have had translated into the Khmer language. The tunes are very unfamiliar to them and so it is requiring all folks to work that much harder. We plan to have 7 special songs that will be sung by 6 different groups during the Christmas service. The play is entitled The Greatest Gift of All. Bro. Has is working hard at coaching those in the drama. Mrs. Keo and Debbie are working with the music groups. Mrs. Has is heading up the costumes and decorations. We plan to have a combined service that Sunday with many folks coming in from the village churches and works as well. Please begin praying that the music, drama, testimonies, and preaching on that day will be used as an opportunity to give a clear presentation of the Gospel and that folks will be saved as a direct result.
This past week we began a new term in the Bible Institute. This term we are teaching three classes: 1) The Christian Family in Today’s Society, 2) Bible Study Methods, 3) Missionary Heroes from the Past. I believe that each of these courses are very important and will prove to be helpful in the lives of those studying. This term we have around 26 adults and 3-4 teens from the church studying in the Institute. We have not, as of yet, opened up the classes to members of other churches but may do that this next term as there have been some requests from other missionaries to do so.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to have a time of fellowship with several of the folks who memorized the entire book of 2 Peter about three months ago. This obviously took a lot of hard work. While some folks were not able to attend this outing due to the fact it conflicted with their schedule, we still had three tuk tuks full of folks who were able to enjoy this special rewards trip. Sopheap, a mother of 4, was the first adult from the Phnom Penh church to complete this Scripture memory challenge. I very clearly remember the time when, just three years ago, she hated us for winning her husband, Sinath, to the Lord. She has now become a wonderful example to all of us of what God can do with a life that has been changed by the power of the Gospel.
We were able to take spend a few hours at a private park outside the city. This was a quiet and beautiful location and everyone had a great time looking at the animals in the small zoo, fishing, boating, and eating together.
They also enjoyed making teams and having boat races. This picture was taken just before one of the boats was “accidentally” tipped over, throwing one passenger into the water. 🙂 It is so important that these new believers are able to enjoy wholesome and godly fellowship with the church and we are looking forward to going again this next year with those who participate in the Scripture memory challenge!
I led Nigah to the Lord several years ago when I went to her clinic to get therapy for my back. As a Chinese Cambodian she initially wanted nothing to do with the Gospel, but about a year after we first met she finally got saved. She has had some challenges in her walk with the Lord but over the past year has seemed to really desire to be faithful. Debbie has been discipling her one-on-one each week for the past year. Nigah is totally blind, speaks nearly fluent English, and is highly skilled in her profession. As a small business owner she provides employment to 9 or 10 other blind Cambodians. Four months ago an organization in South Sudan, Africa requested that she go there to help train some blind folks to begin their own business as well. We were not excited about her going there for several reasons but ultimately she chose to go out of a feeling of obligation and desire to help other blind people become self-supporting. She brought along several books of the Bible in the Braille language as well as an mp3 player full of preaching in the English language. Though she is temporarily living in a Mosque, (apparently it is the safest place for her to stay as a single foreign lady in South Sudan), she has been listening to the English preaching in the open. Her students apparently speak English quite well and have grown to love the preaching as well. I am not certain if any of them have made professions of faith but I do know that they have requested copies of the preaching so that they can listen to it when she returns home to Cambodia. For us it has been encouraging to know that, though Nigah has been away from us and her Christian friends here in Phnom Penh, she is still trying to let her light shine for the Lord! Pray for Nigah to continue to be a good testimony for the three weeks that she remains in South Sudan.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
November 17, 2013
We had a great combined service this morning in Phnom Penh. Every six weeks or so we have a special service that includes folks from some of the village ministries. This morning’s service was so crowded that once we filled the overflow room we had to have about 10 folks sit on the platform. This special service is always a wonderful time of fellowship for all of us. We continued with the series dealing with tearing down spiritual strongholds and our victory over the power of darkness. The service included several special songs. It was also our privilege this morning to take a special love offering to help meet emergency needs for some national pastors in the Philippines whose homes were totally destroyed during the storms this past week. Though our nationals’ capacity to give is somewhat limited, it was a blessing to see the amount they gave this morning. For some, no doubt, their offering was a sacrifice. There are 4-5 other independent Baptist churches here in Cambodia who are joining us in this special offering. Tomorrow morning we plan to forward the combined offering to Missionary Rick Martin in the Philippines to be used to help bring some physical relief to faithful servants of God who have lost virtually every earthly possession. Please continue to pray for the people of the Philippines and the missionaries as they experience this great trial. Here in Cambodia the only effect we felt from the typhoon was rain. None of the devastating winds reached us.
Some of the ladies from Phnom Penh sang the hymn, “Old Time Power.” They worked for several weeks to learn this song! Thank God for their patience and dedication to have a spirit of excellence!
Three of the young ladies from the Prey Bang church sang a traditional Khmer Christian song entitled, “God is with Us.” The song talks about how we can remain joyful even in the midst of trials because God is always with us and He knows what we are going through. This song is a favorite in our church.
About 15 of the members of the Anlong Tnout church were able to join us this morning. They sang the hymn, “Only Trust Him” as a special number. It was a blessing to be able to spend some time in fellowship with them. You might remember that many of the members of this church are Cham and have been saved out of Islam. This morning one of the men shared with me that last night his grandmother’s house was pummeled with stones by people in the village because of her faith in Jesus Christ. We thank God for these folks’ resolve to be faithful no matter what. Please continue to pray that God will protect the believers of the Anlong Tnout church and that they will continue to win the lost.
It was a blessing to have 9 folks follow the Lord in Believer’s Baptism this morning. This lady, Meng Sean, actually accepted Christ before we met her and she began attending our church but she had never been Scripturally baptized. Several others were scheduled to be baptized but at the last minute backed out due to pressure placed on them by people in the village.
This afternoon we had a special ladies fellowship. Each lady prepared a special dessert and brought it to the fellowship. They competed for first, second, and third place prizes. Mrs. Has did a great job of getting everyone involved. Our teen girls handmade beautiful decorations to help create a special atmosphere. Then they staffed the nursery during the fellowship time. Debbie had the opportunity to give a devotional on the “sweetness” of the Word of God. Judging from the amount of noise the ladies made, they apparently had a lot of fun!
About 20 of our Phnom Penh teen boys and men took off this afternoon for a trip to the mountains. They will meet up with another 8-10 men from the Anlong Tnout church. They have been looking forward to this two-day camping trip for a long time. Bro. Has did a great job of organizing the trip and preparing lessons to be taught while they are there. I’m especially happy to see that two of our new young adult men, Vuthy and Sophal, were able to be a part of this trip. I believe it will bring them closer to the Lord and to our men.
Life is very difficult for the vast majority of our friends here in this country. Many of the young people who have been saved here at the church live in family situations that are so sad. This past week I was walking to the home of one of our faithful members and observed something very interesting. The walkway to their neighborhood is covered with trash and filth. The walls are permanently stained with mold and mildew due to the frequent flooding of the walkway. However, right there in the middle of all the filth were these beautiful flowers. It is a reminder that God can take any life and, by His grace, turn their life into something wonderful for His glory. Such is the case with many of the folks who have been saved here in Cambodia.
This past week Debbie and I were making a visit on an older lady to whom we have been witnessing for several months. Her granddaughter, Srey Souk, attends a private school not far from our church. We have been trying for a long time to get her to visit the church but to no avail. She is a professing Christian and is a member of another church here in Phnom Penh. She told me that she attends school with one of our members named Srey Leak. She shared that everyone at the school knows of Srey Leak’s faith in Jesus Christ and that she has a good testimony at the school. Apparently this past week Srey Leak was chosen by the school Principal to act in some sort of drama this next month celebrating Christmas. Her principle let her know that she would be required to wear certain clothing in order to play the role for which she had been chosen. Srey Leak boldly and cheerfully let the Principal know that she was a Christian and she wanted to honor the Lord with her clothing. She humbly requested to be allowed to wear clothing that was in keeping with her convictions or to be released from the role in the drama. This bold and cheerful appeal apparently became known throughout the entire school. Srey Souk’s question to me was this, “Does God really say anything about the way we dress?” “Why do you make Srey Leak dress a certain way?” Debbie and I happily shared with Srey Souk that the Bible does provide principles that ought to regulate our apparel but that our church has no “rules” for how members have to dress. Furthermore, we had no idea that pressure was being put on Srey Leak to compromise her convictions. We were able to share with her that Srey Leak was simply seeking to be faithful to the Lord. I think that her testimony made quite an impression of Srey Souk. Please help pray for the young people here who are striving to honor the Lord with their lives. They often time are mocked by family and people in the community. Yet, they continue to be faithful – and be faithful with a smile! Their example is challenging and convicting to say the least.
One of the blessings we are able to experience each week is that of having a weekly chapel service for our children as well as the missionary children from several other churches. Each Wednesday morning 25-30 missionary kids and some English speaking nationals meet at the church for singing in English, testimony time, competition, and preaching. It is always refreshing to be able to sing in English and hear preaching in English. We are grateful for the good friendships our sons are able to enjoy with some of the other missionary kids. It is our desire to use this service each week to help encourage not just our own family but other American families who are faithfully serving here in Cambodia as co-laborers for the cause of Christ.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
November 10, 2013
We had a full crowd once again this morning here in Phnom Penh. Our English choir sang a special entitled, “Here am I, Send Me.” Some of the men sang the hymn, “Lord, I’m Coming Home.” I continued in the second week of our new series entitled, “Tearing Down Strongholds.” Today we dealt with the topic, “Did God Create the Devil?” This topic is very apropos to the people here in Cambodia. Next week I will deal with the topic,“If God is Omnipotent, Why Does He Allow the Devil to Exist?”
Thank you for continuing to pray for Borey. You may remember that her mother passed away a couple of months ago. She has been left in the care of our church and seems to be really growing in her spiritual life. We are so grateful for a fine Christian family from our home church who is helping to provide for her financial needs. Her father basically has no interaction with her whatsoever. Since the funeral he has attended nearly every Sunday morning service and seems to be listening intently to the preaching. This past week I went to visit him at the house just a few blocks from our church. He was not home but I had the opportunity to speak with some of his neighbors. They were very quick to tell me that the entire neighborhood hates him and does not like having him live there. He does come from a very difficult background and lives a life that would lend itself toward having a lot of enemies. It is great that he can come to the church and be accepted by the Christians just as he is. We hope that the love being shown to him will help to soften his heart and that he will soon be saved. Please continue to pray for Borey and her spiritual growth as well as the salvation of her estranged father, Rom.
The Children’s Ministry workers continue to do a wonderful job in caring for the children from our neighborhood. Each Sunday they meet at the church with the children to sing, share testimonies, and listen to God’s Word as it is preached. Often they will play a game with the children as well. This morning I heard the kids all laughing and having a great time as they played this game – this boy had to blow up the balloon and see how many cups he could blow off the table in 10 seconds. The boys competed against the girls. It is a blessing to see the amount of effort that the workers put forth to love and lead the children each week.
This morning there was a Tuk Tuk full of teens from Ta Skov village who joined us in the morning service. Since our youth conference in September, we have made a special effort to see the faithful teens from this village have the ability to join us here in Phnom Penh once each week. Two of our faithful men get up very early each Sunday morning to drive to this village and transport the children here for the service. They leave the church at 5:00 for the hour and a half long trip to the village which includes a ride across the Mekong River on the ferry boat. Then two more faithful men take the children home after the service. We are so blessed to have a great team of nationals who have been saved and love the Lord and their own people enough to make the effort to faithfully bring these children to church each week. Lord willing, we will see a church planted in Ta Skov village this coming year. Please help us pray about that. Home Bible studies and the Children’s Ministry in this village have been helpful but what this village truly needs is a local church.
During our Sunday evening service it is our custom to take time to share blessings. This is always an encouraging time for us to all hear how God has been working in our lives throughout the week. There are normally testimonies about lessons learned and prayers answered. Often the folks will take this time as an opportunity to thank someone in the congregation who has been a special blessing to them throughout the past week. This evening Brother Sinath shared that he was so blessed to be able to take part in our Highways and Hedges soul-winning yesterday. The village we went to was new to our church but it turns out it was not new to him. Before he got saved he used to go to that particular village to participate in a demonic ceremony. He shared that he was so thankful that now he is free from the power of darkness. He expressed his thanks to God for allowing him to now take the gospel to the very village where he used to worship the devil.
Today we began something new. Beginning this month we will have our Phnom Penh teens run one Sunday evening service per month. They are responsible to do virtually everything in the service. As we look toward the future we know that it is vital to have nationals trained to do the work of the ministry. The Khmer culture does not tend to give much value or responsibility to young people. We are, on purpose, trying to let the young people know that they are special to God and special to our church. We are establishing a new culture, we hope. This evening some of the teens sang a special song entitled, “He Came to Redeem.”
Buth led in opening prayer as well as gave an update on one of the soul-winning ministries. Justin facilitated the testimony time during the service. Veasna led the congregational singing. Isaiah preached a message from the Book of James. Neang gave a report on the nursery ministry. We are so blessed to have these young people and others who love the Lord and desire to serve Him. If you want to reach teens for Christ – we have a place for you in Cambodia ! We need help !
In addition to the teens running one service each month, we all plan to have a time of fellowship with them immediately following the service. We are calling these times “Destination Unknown.” No one knows what we will do or where we will go until they arrive there on the Tuk Tuks ! Tonight, for our first Destination Unknown, we took some of the teens to the modern mall and bought them ice cream. I believe they had a great time and most of all they were reminded that their lives have value to the Lord and to us !
In this blog we try and keep you informed in regard to some of the various weekly ministries here in Cambodia. Perhaps the most important ministry we have seen started here is our 6:30 a.m. Tuesday prayer meeting. It is a blessing to have around 30 or so folks come out every week for this special meeting.
Every 6 weeks or so we have a special time of soul-winning to a remote village. We call this ministry the “Highways and Hedges” ministry. Yesterday it was a blessing to have 42 folks show up to be involved. It is a time when newer members can go soul-winning without having to speak as we pair them up with someone who is able to explain the gospel. We traveled about an hour and a half to a village in Kandal Province named Wat Brasat Poom Swi. I feel like we were able to meet some good prospects. Debbie, Jeremy, and myself met a man, Mao, and his wife, Boom. I believe there is a very good chance that they will invite us back to teach them more. The wife, in particular, seems to be very interested. Please help us pray about the various contacts that our folks were able to make in this new village.
Apparently not everyone was excited to have us there in the village. We found this tract torn up and laying on the road as we returned from the village to our Tuk Tuk.
Yesterday we were able to see Chenda for a few minutes as we passed through her village on the way to our Highways and Hedges soul-winning. I met Chenda a couple of months ago and she invited me back to teach her how to know God. Bro. Adrian and I have been to her home in Prek Pnov village on several occasions but we have never found her at home. Pray that God opens the door for us to teach Chenda and that she will be saved.
Each Friday afternoon we try and take a few hours for family time. We normally go to eat at some small restaurant. This past Friday as we were eating a family came and was seated right next to us. I thought I recognized the gentleman but was not 100% sure as to his identity. Debbie told me, “It’s funny – He has the same face as the King.” I told her, “That’s because it is the King’s son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh.” Prince Ranariddh was elected First Prime Minister in the 1990’s and was active in politics at the highest level here in Cambodia until this past year. He presently serves as a special adviser to the King. It was neat to have the opportunity to speak with him and his family for awhile. (I was actually in a meeting with him 20 years ago in Long Beach, California.) The owner of the restaurant spoke with him and his family but other than that it was like they were invisible to the people in the restaurant. I am not sure exactly why. Perhaps it is because he has his head shaved and no one recognized him. Although the armed body guard sitting 10 feet from his table should have given it away… Perhaps it was because they did not dare try and speak to him because of his “position” in the royal family. (There is system of hierarchy in the Cambodian culture that precludes people from “lower” social or economic status from approaching people who are of “higher” status.) Being Caucasian and foreign, we are able to play by a different set of rules which sometimes allows us opportunities that the nationals may not have. The Prince was very friendly and has a great sense of humor. Before leaving the restaurant we had the opportunity to give his family a gospel tract. You never know – perhaps they will read it…
Life was a bit challenging this past week as our internet was down for two days straight. Finally after working on the lines, connections, and router for hour upon hour, the “tech” (and I use that word quite loosely) finally took my recommendation and replaced the Ethernet cable coming from the hub into our house. We were up and running in no time! This picture sort of sums up the situation quite well – the tech shows up with no wire strippers, no soldering gun or solder, no line tester, and no ladder! Once he finally agreed to change out our line he climbed this pole without a ladder and stood on the electrical meter box while trying to get the new line connected. The box is about 20 feet off the ground. It is a wonder that you rarely hear about techs getting electrocuted to death, seeing as how I get shocked every time I touch the side of my computer without wearing shoes! Apparently OSHA does not have a branch here in Cambodia.
Here is the link to a video we shot this weekend at Highways and Hedges soul-winning. It includes a 6-7 minute clip of some of the bumpy roads we traveled to get to the village. https://vimeo.com/79005808
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
October 27, 2013
We had wonderful services here in Cambodia today. It was a blessing to have Srey Pou join one of our ladies singing groups for the first time this morning. In recent months she has really tried to get more involved in the work of the ministry. As a single mother her life is a difficult one but it is wonderful to see the ladies of the church forge a close relationship with her.
Since our youth conference last month it seems that God has been doing a wonderful work in the lives of some of our teens in some of the villages. Perhaps the most exciting work has been in the lives of some of the young people in Ta Skouv village. For the past three Sundays two of the workers from Phnom Penh have left the church at 5:00 a.m. to go pick up 10-12 of the teens from this village so that they can attend the Sunday morning service here in Phnom Penh. (Believe it or not, all these young people in this picture are actually teens!) Our Phnom Penh church has the goal to plant two more daughter churches in the year 2014. One of the churches will, Lord willing, be in Ta Skouv village. Thank the Lord for the faithful workers who travel over the Mekong River and the treacherous roads nearly two hours one way every Wednesday and Sunday so that these folks can hear the Word of God. Each Wednesday we have the opportunity to teach anywhere between 100-300 children in this particular village depending upon the month. (Each month the public school system changes the hours of school which affects the number of children available to meet with us.) Join us in praying that we might be able to see a church planted in this village in the months to come.
It was a blessing to have Srey Neang (13 years old) come and tell me that she led Srey Pich to the Lord this morning before the morning service. Srey Pich has been attending the church for the past several months. For the past three weeks she has been the first one to show up to church each Sunday morning. She attends a private school that is run by a large Christian organization here in Phnom Penh. No doubt some of the teachers at that school have faithfully planted the seed of the gospel in her heart for many months. Pray that Srey Pich will be faithful to the Lord and get plugged into the girls teen ministries.
Do you have a burden for young people? You ought to pray about coming to serve along side of us here in Cambodia. We presently have workers reaching out to about 12 different villages, but there are over 14,000 villages in Cambodia! This billboard for Coca-Cola is just blocks from our church. We are told that every day more than 1 billion Coke products are consumed worldwide. Each time I see this billboard I am reminded that this company has done what Christians have failed to do – they have literally penetrated every village here in Cambodia with their product. In fact, you would be hard pressed to go anywhere in the 10/40 window where you could not readily find Coke products.
As I am sitting here writing this update I can hear our English choir practicing their special for this next Sunday. The song is entitled, “Here Am I, Send Me.”
There’s a harvest, the fields are white, and there’s so much work to do.
And it’s so easy for me to pray that the Lord will burden you.
But this time when I kneel to pray, Lord, make this burden mine,
Let me see past my selfishness, and let my will be Thine.
Here am I, Lord, send me to share Your precious Word,
Here am I, Lord, send me to those who’ve never heard.
Let me lift my eyes to see a world that’s dying without Thee.
Here am I, O Lord, send me.
The second line is interesting – And it’s so easy for me to pray that the Lord will burden you. Our churches here are praying that more Christians in America will heed the voice of the Holy Spirit as He is trying to direct them to take the gospel to places like Cambodia and the 10/40 window. However, here is the exciting thing – Our nationals are not waiting around for more missionaries to come. They are heeding the command and obeying the call that was already given to every one of us over 2,000 years ago! They are trying to do their part to spread the message of salvation throughout this country! That being said, there are, no doubt, many more Christians from the States whom God is calling to obey the call and leave the comforts of America for the sake of the gospel. Are you one of them?
The last Sunday night of every month we have three laymen preach during the evening service. Each of these married men are students in our Bible Institute. This month we asked Taiwan, Man, and Hem to preach. All three of them preached fantastic truths that spoke to each of our hearts. Taiwan and his wife were saved out of Buddhism. Man and Hem were saved out of Islam. The key to reaching any country with the gospel is having faithful men and families who are able to reach their own people. Please continue to pray for us as we not only win folks to Christ but seek to train them to become committed followers of Christ who will win others also.
Please continue to pray for the Vong family as they are working hard to complete their deputation to come to Cambodia as missionaries. Debbie and I have known Bro. Vong and his wife, Neaty, since they were in Jr. High school. The Lord allowed us to have a part in reaching them and their families. The Vongs will be a great asset to the ministry here in Cambodia as they already speak the language and have grown up in the Khmer culture in Long Beach, California. In addition to helping plant churches in the villages we believe that God will open the door for us to start a Children’s Home when the Vongs arrive. The vision is still in the planning stages but we believe that the vision is becoming clearer. The home will primarily be geared, Lord willing, to minister to the needs of some of the families in our village ministries. We believe that the home and school will help create a whole new generation of young Christians who are trained from a young age to know God’s Word, win souls, and plant churches in Southeast Asia. It will be a very expensive endeavor but we believe that it is the right time to develop this new ministry.
This past week I was in contact with a man who has family in a village 6 hours from here. He strongly desires that the gospel go to his village. Yet, it is too far away for us to go. However, there is a strong chance that he has a young family member or two who could come and live in the home and be a part of the Phnom Penh church. We view the home as basically being a 24 hour discipleship ministry. Some of the young people may come into the home not yet knowing the Lord, and the goal, of course, would be for them to get saved.
Ten days ago a man in Prak Pnou village, who Bro. Bounna and others have been witnessing to, died from a disease. This morning his wife, Thy, and her two young children were in our morning service here in Phnom Penh. Thy shared with me that she has the same disease that he had and that it is very likely she will die as well. She told me that she is in the process of looking for some place to put her children once she dies. Stories like this, sad to say, are not that rare. You may remember that last month one of our members died from liver failure. Her daughter, Borey, is now living with one of our families. Her education, clothing, food, and medical care has become the responsibility of the church. I do believe that there will be many more “Boreys” out there who we can win and train for the cause of Christ through the Children’s Home. Please help pray that we will all have wisdom as we work toward seeing this new ministry started in the months to come.
Please continue to pray for our Pastor, Dr. Joe Esposito, and his health situation. As most of you know, Pastor has been in a coma due to an aneurism that he suffered three weeks ago. He has been not just our Pastor but also our mentor and friend for the past 25 years. His willingness to obey the Lord and encourage missionaries to go to Cambodia and Southeast Asia is, humanly speaking, responsible for much of what God is doing through our team here in Cambodia. Please pray that God would be honored to give him a complete healing. His family has been such a strong testimony of the grace of God through this entire event. Please pray that they will continue to be encouraged in the Lord and experience His comfort as they go through this trial.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, and Jason
September 29, 2013
Today’s update will be very short because of time… We had great services today here in Phnom Penh. In addition to our regular morning and evening service, we also began our Youth Conference.
Some of our teens sang the hymn “Since I Have Been Redeemed.” They did a great job. (The young man on the right hand side was wearing a Starbucks shirt because he was also part of a skit during the service…)
Our English ensemble sang the song “I Stand Redeemed.” It is so encouraging to see how this group is developing in their musical abilities. They have to practice so hard to get the words down in English and we are grateful for all those who make this group happen!
It was a blessing to have 18 folks follow the Lord in Believer’s Baptism after the morning service. Please help pray that all these individuals will continue to grow in the Lord and in their faithfulness to His purpose for their lives.
We have begun having all the men meet together prior to each of our Sunday services for a time of prayer. For the last two weeks there has been nowhere to meet because we have been so crowded. Therefore they have spread out on the platform, around the auditorium, and in a classroom. It is a blessing to hear the sound of men praying together. We believe that one of the reasons why God is blessing the ministry here is because we are all trying to depend upon Him to change hearts and minds. It is challenging to see the faith of some of our nationals as they call out to God in prayer.
We tried our best to put a limit on the number of teens who were allowed to participate in our Youth Conference. We invited only a select group from each of the village ministries. For some of these young people it was their very first time to come to the big city. The teens had to have a special invitation in order to participate in the conference. We had to limit participation because of the fact that we can only handle a limited number of people here on our property at any given time. Plus the fact that it is a huge challenge to transport the young people to and from the events we had planned for them away from the church. We put the limit at 75 – yet, somehow we ended up with closer to 90 teens. Not sure how that happened. I guess God knew who needed to be here this weekend. This is our very first Youth Conference and it has been great! We are so thankful for the involvement of the adults in our church here in Phnom Penh as well as for their patience in dealing with the young people. We have almost 30 teens sleeping here at the church and in our home who traveled in from the village ministries for the conference. Brother Torres and I are taking care of the boys. Samantha Thaing is taking care of the girls. She has 21 of them in her apartment tonight! We kicked Vannak out of the apartment and sent him back home to his mom for one night so the girls could sleep there with Samantha. He had a great attitude about it!
During each of the services Bro. Has has a special skit. They are very funny and the teens love watching them. The skit team put a lot of work into practicing these skits.
I preached a message this morning from Daniel 1:8 entitled “Daniel Purposed in His Heart.” This evening Brother Vannak preached a fantastic message entitled “Jesus is Calling Every Person to Follow Him.” This evening the altars were full of teens making decisions for the Lord. The conference will end Monday evening. Please keep our young people in your prayers over the next 24 hours as we conclude the meeting and they return to their respective villages.
The kids had a great time playing dodge ball and tug of war at the park! Believe it or not, as far as I know, all of these kids with the exception of one are over the age of 13! (One of the requirements to attend is that they had to be between the ages of 13-18.) The little guy in the white shirt and blue shorts is 10 years old…he is so faithful to the village ministry that the worker did not have the heart to turn him away.
Jason and Justin got to practice their hospitality skills this morning!
So many people worked so hard to make the morning service a special one today. Several of our men left at 5:00 a.m. to pick up teens in the villages. Many of our ladies were up at the same time preparing food for the Curry potluck after the service this morning. We are so blessed to serve with new believers who take their ministries seriously.
Last week we mentioned that Vuthy visited the Sunday morning and evening services. He returned for the midweek service, as well as Saturday men’s prayer group and young adult men’s ministry. He was also at all of the services today. He is so attentive and we are excited that God brought him our way. It is a very rare thing to have a Christian from another church be able to fit right in to our church as we tend to be quite a bit different than the status quo Cambodian church. Please continue to pray that Vuthy will get plugged in and discover in which ministry he ought to be serving.
We have been reaching out to Piseth and his family in Law Gombou village for the past couple of months. We are so blessed to have Hang, Piseth’s 16 year old son, attend the Youth Conference. It is the first time that he has slept away from his own home. I praised Piseth and his wife for having firm rules in their home and keeping their children protected from evil influences. Piseth told me that they are allowing him to come and sleep at our house and be a part of the conference because they trust our family. We feel a huge responsibility. I believe that this is just one more sign that this entire family is opening their hearts to the Lord. Please pray for Hang as he has been under direct preaching this weekend for the first time in his life. He looked very happy this morning and evening during the services. We trust he will be saved soon!
Debbie continues to meet with SreyMar for personal discipleship in our home. SreyMar’s schedule at the airport is a very hectic and unpredictable one. She has very few hours off each month which makes it impossible for her to have a set time to meet with Debbie. We are so thankful to see how she is growing in her new faith. Please continue to pray for SreyMar as she seeks to be a good testimony to her unsaved parents.
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy, Jason
September 22, 2013
We had great services here in Phnom Penh again this morning. The auditorium was packed and the spirit was good. It was a blessing to have a new young man, Vuthy, visit the morning service. Vuthy recently graduated from university with a degree in Management. When I asked him who invited him to our church he indicated that no one had invited him. He just moved to our neighborhood and saw the church and decided to come. He indicated that he has been a believer for 4 years. Pray that our young adult men will get close to him and that we will be able to see him get plugged into the ministry. He returned for the evening service as well.
After the morning service, once everyone has cleared out of the auditorium, some of us set up for the Children’s Ministry service while other folks go into the community to make some visits. Today as I was “managing by walking around” (making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing) I stopped to chat with SreyKa, SreyPouv, and Somphous. They were all three busy sweeping the auditorium and setting up for the next service. Somphous told me, “Pastor, SreyKa wants to accept Jesus as her Saviour. Can you help her?” I had never met SreyKa but the four of us sat down on one of the mats and I explained salvation to her. She said that her children’s class teacher, Mrs. Bounna Has, had taught her about salvation and she was ready to believe. Right there on the mats she bowed her head and told Jesus that she was a sinner, could not save herself, and believed that He had paid the price for her sin and asked Him to please forgive her sins and take her as His child. That was a blessing. Somphous and SreyPouv were very excited because they have been praying for her and encouraging her to come to church. Thank the Lord for young children who have a heart for the lost around them. Mark 10:15 reminds us that if we are going to be saved, we must also have the faith of a child who is willing to take God at His Word and receive Him in simple faith.
We plan, Lord willing, to have our first Youth Conference here in Phnom Penh this next Sunday and Monday. We were supposed to have it last week but chose to postpone it due to the political protests that were going on here in the city. The conference will be primarily geared toward the faithful teens, like Borey, Linda, and Liza, who are a part of the Phnom Penh church. The village churches in Anlong Tnout and the Prey Bang church will send their teens as well. However, we are also inviting teens who faithfully attend our village works (works that have not yet become a church) in Trabang Tma and Prak Pnou village. We anticipate having Hang, (16 years old) from Lawgombou village, attend as well. We have been reaching out to his family for the past several months. They are not saved as of yet but I believe they are opening up to the gospel. Please pray that our teens will have safety traveling from the various villages here to Phnom Penh and that the conference will be used to challenge them to be a bright light in their community as well as maintain a close walk with the Lord.
The next couple of weeks are a “slippery” time for many of the new believers who have been delivered out of Buddhism. The Pjum Ben festival is the first week of October and is one of the most important festivals here in this country. It is a time of devil worship and ancestral worship. In reality, it, along with ancestral worship in general, is likely the single most significant stronghold that Satan has on this culture because of the fact that it incorporates ones familial responsibilities with occultic practices. It is a yearly thing that we have faced with the Khmer people since we first began winning the Cambodian people to Christ back in 1984. New believers will be faced with a decision to go to the temple and participate with their families or to stand alone. This evening one of our young men said to me, “Pastor, will you please pray for me? I am worried that my parents will try and force me to participate in Pjum Ben and I want to be faithful to God.” Please pray for our new believers to be strong and trust in the protection of the Lord during the next couple of weeks.
The new church plant in Prey Bang village continues to go forward. Sinath has truly been a great example for the Lord in his home village. Pouv is his uncle and accepted Christ several months ago because of Sinath’s testimony. Prior to Sinath being saved he held a grudge against Pouv and his wife, Pa. Sinath recently gave testimony about how they hated each other for many years and had no communication whatsoever between each other. He shared that once he accepted Christ as his Saviour God gave him a forgiving heart and he desired to win Pouv and Pa to the Lord. We are so excited to see how Pouv and Pa are growing in the Lord. Bro. Keo and Sinath and others from the church are so faithful at going to the village twice each week to hold services. As with any new work it sometimes seems that we take three steps forward and two steps back, but overall the work in Prey Bang is moving ahead. You may recall the simple church building that we put up several months ago in this village. Pouv is the land owner and so his testimony in the village is very important. Please pray that Pouv and Pa will continue to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Lord, in their separation from the world, and in their boldness to shine as a light in a very dark place. All around the church is drunkenness, gambling, and other forms of debauchery. No doubt some folks in the village are not real excited to have a new church right smack in the middle of their “fun.”
It was a blessing to have Vannak and Samantha joined together in marriage yesterday morning. I don’t know if I’ve ever known a finer Christian couple than these two. During the wedding ceremony we gave them both an opportunity to publicly share their testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. Vannak boldly shared of his resolve to continue serving the Lord with his whole heart. This couple has so much potential for the Lord; they are teachable, humble, dependable, energetic, both of them are soul-winners, and now they can serve the Lord together. Their courtship was Christ honoring and a wonderful example to the young adults in our church. It was a blessing to us all to see them in the morning service today. They put off leaving for their honeymoon because they did not want to miss church. Please pray for Vannak and Samantha to continue to be faithful to the Lord and to His work.
It was a blessing to be able to fellowship with Vannak’s grandmother at the wedding. She lives in the Cham village two hours from the church. She is a part of our Anlong Tnout village church. After grandma got saved her whole attitude changed. I remember how 7 years ago she would openly mock me as I taught in the village but now God has done a great work in her life. Yesterday I told her that her eyes were bright. She replied, “That is because of the new life that Jesus has given to me!” Thank you for continuing to pray for the Cham believers.
You may recall that several months ago we requested prayer for Soam. As a new believer she was undergoing serious persecution by her lost husband, Hem. For a time she sought refuge here in Phnom Penh with the believers because of specific threats that were made toward her due to her refusal to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam. I remember her telling me, “Pastor, I can not abandon my faith. If I do, I know for sure that my husband and family will never be saved. I have to go forward for Jesus.” It was a blessing to see her husband, Hem, attend the wedding yesterday here at the church and then the reception afterwards. This is huge! I am certain that it took a lot of courage for him to do so as he likely assumed that we would all look down on him. Praise the Lord that everyone was loving toward him and very welcoming. I do think that God may have used the wedding to work in his heart and soften him to the message of the gospel. Please pray that Hem will be saved! Perhaps he will become like the Apostle Paul who once persecuted the church but who came to become a child of God who boldly proclaimed the good news of salvation!
If we can help you in any way please don’t hesitate to let us know. We always are encouraged to hear how you are faithfully praying for the work here in Cambodia!
Because of God’s grace,
Dave, Debbie, Joshua, Jeremy. and Jason